- Golfer Benefits
When Rich Gagnon took the job as Meadow Brook Golf Club’s superintendent, he knew he was in the right place when he met the club’s longtime PGA Professional Steve Sheridan.
“One of the first things he said was ‘you know this is a hockey club, right?’” recalled Gagnon, a former college hockey player who now photographs hockey games from high school to the professional level. “That was great news to me.”
Make no mistake, Sheridan is a passionate golf professional who has ushered in a thriving youth golf program and introduced video and website technology to enhance the membership experience at the 9-hole Reading facility. Last year, he received the New England PGA Massachusetts Golf Professional of the Year Award and is now entering his 20th year at Meadow Brook.
But at the end of the day, the hockey rink is his happy place.
Sheridan moonlights as an assistant coach for The Rivers School boys hockey team. He joined the coaching staff 15 years ago when a Meadow Brook member asked him to take over the junior varsity team for the second half of the season. Since then, he’s won several league titles and built lifelong memories with players, many of whom go on to college and later became golfers themselves.
“There’s nothing better, whether it’s on the golf course or the hockey rink, when a kid calls you and says they’ve committed to a school,” Sheridan said. “We have over 40 kids playing college hockey right now. And they all keep in touch.
“You like seeing your investment, and for me that’s seeing kids succeed whether it’s on the golf course or at the hockey rink.”
But coaching doesn’t tell the full story. Whether it’s golf or in hockey, Sheridan is an analytics and numbers guy. He films his team’s hockey games and will use that video in-game to help his team make adjustments. He’ll also send out game film to college coaches, which is becoming vital in recent months where crowd restrictions make in-game scouting challenging.
“In between periods we’ll look at faceoffs and video footage,” Sheridan said. “That plays a role in how we define our game plan for the next period. We once got our butts kicked in playoffs because the other team got our center thrown out of faceoffs. We learned that if you don’t win faceoffs, it costs you puck possession.”
“Steve is an integral part of our coaching staff,” Rivers head coach Freddy Meyer said. “He’s organized, prepared and passionate for the game. His behind the scenes work with all things video and analytics has been a huge asset to me and all of our players.”
Sheridan’s said he also benefited working with former NHL coach Shawn McEachern while McEachern led the Rivers hockey squad. “I learned the way to prepare for a game and how to break things down,” Sheridan said. “Just to see that mindset and what it takes to compete at that level is amazing.”
His video work doesn’t stop there as he’s been behind the camera for Hockey East games broadcast on NESN and ESPN. While AI technology does much of the heavy lifting now, Sheridan still has an extensive resume behind the camera. He’s even worked camera during the 2013 Stanley Cup final between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks.
Growing up Sheridan was a standout golfer for Wakefield High, where he also played hockey. After high school, he worked video production for Boston University and worked as an advance scout. Sheridan was considering a career in television and video production but instead decided to change course. “I didn’t want to be on the road 5 days a week,” he said.
Instead, he followed in the path of his uncle and father, who were his biggest mentors in golf. His late uncle Didge Sheridan at one time was a golf professional at Pebble Beach, and following in his footsteps decided to attend the Golf Academy of the South in Florida.
Sheridan got his start at age 19 working under Kevin Wilczewski at Lexington Country Club. In 1998 he joined Frank Dully II’s staff at Kernwood Country Club in Salem and learned to manage day-to-day operations.
“I idolize those guys big time,” Sheridan said. “They gave me the experience I needed to become a head golf professional.”
Since taking the reins at Meadow Brook in 2003, Sheridan has overseen a 10-fold increase in the junior program, which now boasts about 250 members in its ranks, including PGA Jr. League squads. One successful campaign has been the Girls On The Tee program for middle and high school girls that has exceeded even Sheridan’s initial expectations.
“I love the juniors because they enjoy being out and they want to be there,” Sheridan said. “That’s the beauty of our program. I’m not afraid to try something because it might not work. We’re able to do what we can because we get support from the management and the board.”
Numbers play a big part in golf as well as Sheridan is big on statistics like fairways hit and total putts. But using TrackMan numbers allows a better insight on what clubs work better for each golfer.
“At the end of the day it does affect your golf experience,” he said. “I always say, you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it.”
Beyond the day-to-day operations, Sheridan is proactive in organizing club events and tournament, lending staff when needed and even taking on the responsibility of marking the course.
“I’ve been a head superintendent 19 years, and Steve has been the most helpful and made my job easier than any pro I’ve worked with, and I’ve worked with a lot of amazing pros,” Gagnon said.
Sheridan has much to look forward to on the golf front after two challenging years for the club. While rounds played surged to 24,000 last year, Meadow Brook has lost its clubhouse to fires twice in as many years. But the new clubhouse, providing sweeping views of the golf course, is set to open April 1. That will conincide with the club’s Member-Guest.
“The members are looking forward to that,” Sheridan said. “It’s going to be beautiful.”