We lost a great man on May 14th, former PGA TOUR Executive, Brian Henning. Nicknamed “Bruno,” he was the driving force behind the development and growth of what is now PGA TOUR Champions, the 50+ circuit that began officially back in 1980.
I was fortunate to meet Bruno in 1990 when I was the Tournament Manager of the Senior PGA Championship in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. He was a bigger-than-life personality and the older brother of Harold Henning, who was a stalwart on the “Senior Tour” (as it was called back then).
It would not be until 1995 that our paths would once again cross after I took over as Tournament Director of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf tournament out in La Quinta, CA (at PGA West). We would continue to work together until his retirement in 2002.
All of my memories of Bruno are fond ones. He always had time for a chat and was always there to give advice or just listen. He made a huge impression on me, as he did others, and his insights and knowledge allowed me to be a better Tournament Director. I watched closely as he always put the TOUR and players first, which I highly respected. He called me “Timmy,” as so many of the Senior Tour players did back then, and what I remember so vividly was his quick wit, easy smile, and singing to the staff each morning, “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma. He would insert a different staff member’s name into the song, and you were always hopeful that it would be yours.
When Deane Beaman, former PGA TOUR Commissioner, tapped Bruno to take the reins of the Senior Tour back in 1980, he made a great decision. Nobody was more capable than Bruno to grow the new Tour from 6 – 7 events all the way to 30+ events during his tenure. He understood the product. He understood sales and marketing. But most of all, he wanted to ensure that when the players turned 50, they had a place to play and continue to display their talents and personalities to the world.
To me, he was a mentor and a friend and someone I kept in touch with throughout my PGA TOUR career. Fittingly, there is an award named after him, The Bruno Award, given out annually by PGA TOUR Champions to an individual who gives back to the game. While he is no longer with us, his award and spirit will live on not only in me but in the thousands of others whose lives he touched and those who have heard their name over the radio during “Oh What A Beautiful Morning…”
Rest in Peace, Bruno!