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The storied Homestead boys golf program, with its numerous state titles, is built on a foundation of tradition, hard work and a commitment to excellence.

It's driven forward by the strong will and relentless energy of veteran coach Steve O'Brien, who demands much out of his golfers, but more out of himself as he searches tirelessly for the perfect golf shot and the next great joke.

But O'Brien, who has been around the program since the late 1980s, knows that none of Homestead's tradition would have been possible if not for a man for whom the word "legend" may be too small.

Bobby Brue died at 82 on April 19 after a month-long illness. He was a long-time teacher, club pro, trick shot artist, master of the Champions Tour and wit.

O'Brien knows him for something far more important because Brue was also the club pro at Ozaukee Country Club from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s. Ozaukee has always been the home course for Homestead golf and Brue always made the Highlanders feel welcome, said O'Brien.

"I got to know him in his later days because he took a real interest and liking in Jordan (former Homestead state champion and now professional golfer Niebrugge)," said O'Brien. "He'd offer advice and have lunch or dinner with us. He was always a man with a quick wit and it was always a treat talking golf with him. Ozaukee has been the home course for Homestead since the school opened and Bobby really helped establish us there.

"He fortified that for us and he always wanted to share what he knew about the game."

Which was considerable.

The man played on-again and off-again on the PGA Tour for years, taking second in the Phoenix Open in 1964 to the mighty Jack Nicklaus and, in 1961, he held the first-round lead at the US Open, finishing in 22nd place. He was also 12th in the 1973 PGA championship and would go on to play more than 300 Champions (Senior) Tour events, making a very good living that way.

He also won numerous statewide events and his trick show events were the stuff of legend.

In short, he is seen as ground zero for establishing respect and credibility for state golfers on a nationwide basis. He was a guy who harkened back to a simpler time, when the game was a bit more free-wheeling and less buttoned-down than it is today: a little more fun.

O'Brien said it would be good for current young players to know that about Brue. To let them know it's not all about swing analysis and sports psychologists

"He was always talking to the kids, that's what always stuck with me," said O'Brien. "He really wanted to pass things on to kids like Jordan. He was a great guy to know that way.

"He's also someone who was very significant in the development of Ozaukee (CC) and he helped make it one of the premiere clubs in the area."

But as noted, there's one real reason why O'Brien is sad at Brue's passing.

"He's one who really helped us grow here (at Homestead)," said O'Brien.  "Because of that, the Homestead golf program owes him a great deal."

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