Grady Brame leads Golfweek Senior Division National Championship after day one
Grady Brame Jr. (left) and Grady Brame (Golfweek Photo)
Grady Brame Jr. (left) and Grady Brame (Golfweek Photo)

Story by Julie Williams of Golfweek

Grady Brame’s day at Desert Willow Golf Club in Palm Desert, California, was nothing if not tidy. Brame has found the Firecliff course at Desert Willow, site of the Golfweek Senior Division National Championship, is getable, provided a player can put it in the right spots.

“You have some opportunities to make some putts if you can hit the green,” he said.

Brame, 66, did that 16 times on Monday, converting three birdies in the process and taking a one-shot lead on the 83-man field with a 3-under 69.

Brame is currently ranked No. 77 in the Super Senior Rankings.

Desert Willow is a long way from Brame’s Hammond, Louisiana, home, but it hardly looked that way as he reeled off a “low-stress” round all the way across the country. He only missed the green at Nos. 1 and 17 and chipped inside 3 feet on both holes to make up for it. Two of his three birdies came off putts inside 5 feet. Brame felt he drove the ball well on Monday, too, and hit a number of good iron shots, generally leaving himself in places that made it possible for him to score.

“My speed was really good,” Brame said of his performance on greens he called fast enough but not scary fast, “so when I was missing them, for the most part with the exception of three holes, my pars were tap-ins, inside of a foot.”

When he was able to make a short tester of a par putt at the par-5 18th to remain at 3 under and with the solo lead, it made his lunch taste that much better.

Brame is a well-traveled player. He’ll tee it up about a dozen times each year in senior amateur events, and he keeps throwing his hat in the ring in U.S. Golf Association qualifiers despite still working in commercial real estate for Sterling Properties, a company he has been with for 42 years.

Brame has played 23 USGA events over the course of his career, noting he had a knack for playing well in the qualifiers for those events. All told, he has played six U.S. Amateurs, 13 U.S. Mid-Amateurs, one U.S. Senior Amateur, and three State Team Championships. He continues to play qualifiers for the Mid-Am, Senior Am, and Senior Open.

“Still trying to chase the dream,” he said.

In Louisiana golf circles, the name “Grady Brame” is synonymous with very good golf – doubly so, in fact. Brame’s son Grady Brame Jr., played professionally for more than six years, competing largely on the PGA Tour Canada but also Monday qualifying his way into three Korn Ferry Tour events plus the Sanderson Farms Championship on the PGA Tour.

Brame Jr., who played collegiately for Southeastern Louisiana, won the Louisiana State Amateur in 2014 and 2015, making the Brames the only father-son duo to win that event. Brame Sr.’s title came in 2002.

Brame Sr. has also won the Louisiana Mid-Amateur twice, and there was a time when he had a perfect streak of starts in that event, which dates to 1991. (Somewhere along the way, he finally missed a tournament.) The Louisiana Golf Association events still find their way onto Brame’s calendar, and he’ll head home for the Louisiana State Senior after playing this week’s Golfweek desert doubleheader.

Behind Brame, California residents Dick Engel and Robby Funk are tied for second with Kirk Maynord of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. All four men had rounds of 2-under 70. Engel and Funk both birdied the par-5 closing hole to get there.

Montana resident Craig Hurlbert, a playing captain at the Golfweek Challenge Cup in 2022, is one of four men tied for fifth at 1 under.

The group at even par includes New Yorker Kevin VandenBerg, the 2023 Golfweek Senior Player of the Year. VandenBerg was 2 under through his opening four holes, but lost ground with five bogeys over the remainder of his round, including at No. 17.

Results: Golfweek Senior Division National Championship
1COJon LindstromBroomfield, CO70071-70-67=208
2TXJohn BrellenthinDallas, TX40073-70-68=211
3OKKirk MaynordOklahoma City, OK30070-68-74=212
4MIJerry GunthorpeOvid, MI30073-71-70=214
5CARobert FunkCanyon Lake, CA30070-74-72=216

View full results for Golfweek Senior Division National Championship

ABOUT THE Golfweek Senior Division National Championship

Started in 2022, this is a 54-hole stroke play championship for seniors with a single age division of 55 and older. 72-player field limit with a maximum handicap of 8.0.

View Complete Tournament Information

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6965 El Camino Real 105-631
Carlsbad, CA 92009

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