Vermont’s “First Family” of Golf

Politano family of Brandon making a name for itself in the game
Politano family of Brandon making a name for itself in the game
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 11:29 PM EDT
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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - If you’ve been to a golf tournament in the state of Vermont over the past few years, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen the name “Politano” sitting somewhere near the top of the leaderboard. So we ventured down to their home course to introduce you to a group that is becoming arguably the “first family” of competitive golf in Vermont.

Golf has long been a focal point for the Politano family of Brandon.

“I started playing in college,” said Paul Politano, the head pro at Ralph Myhre Golf Course in Middlebury. “My freshman dorm was right outside the golf course at St. Lawrence. So me and a few friends used to grab someone’s clubs and sneak onto the golf course.”

Paul Politano grew up in Southern Vermont. After a couple years in real estate post graduation, he moved out to Arizona to pursue a career in golf. He came home a few years later on what he thought was a temporary basis...but he ended up running into an acquaintance from college.

“My mother was sick and I took a Summer job at Stratton Mountain Golf School,” Paul said. “And she and her family were taking lessons there.”

“We met at Stratton Golf School,” said Erika Politano, a Middlebury native and Paul’s wife. “When he proposed to me, it was at Haystack in Wilmington, Vermont. And that was a lot of what we did, we went out and played golf together.”

Paul and Erika settled in Brandon and had four kids. Paul worked as a pro at a few different local courses before settling in as the head pro at Ralph Myhre in Middlebury. While the kids were growing up, the best chance to spend time with their dad was on the golf course.

“He put a putter in my hand as soon as I could walk,” said Mia Politano, Paul and Erika’s first child. “So I’ve just always been around the golf course.”

“I remember always having the drive to try to just be better in the game,” said Thomas Politano, the eldest son and one of the middle children. “And I tried to just outshoot...well...them.”

“Growing up with my dad being a professional has been super special to us,” added Elena Politano, Thomas’ twin sister. “Since we’ve all been able to learn and grow from him and also my mom, because she had all of her big wins.”

Erika claimed the Vermont Mid Am back in 2009...and the kids inherited that championship pedigree. Mia, soon to be a college junior, starred at otter valley, claiming a pair of high school individual state titles. Elena and Thomas followed in her footsteps, with Thomas and younger brother Lucas leading the Otters to back to back D2 boys golf state crowns in 2021 and ‘22.

“Having the opportunity to be able to play with my brother is not something that a lot of people get,” Lucas said. “So I’m super blessed to have that chance. And winning a couple state championships with him is just something I’ll never forget.”

“I mean that’s something that I’m very blessed to have,” Thomas added. “Having my brother on the team is an opportunity that I’ll never forget. And just having him on the team is amazing.”

The youngest and oldest have found success beyond the high school level as well. Mia is about to enter her third season with the Middlebury Panthers, and claimed her biggest victory to date when she took the Vermont Women’s Am last Summer in her home town.

“Yeah it’s something that I think every amateur golfer aspires to achieve in Vermont,” Mia said. “It’s something that I didn’t really expect going into the tournament that I was going to win or be one of the top players in the state. But being able to do that, especially at Neshobe, which used to be my home course, was really special.”

Lucas is still chasing his first Am, but he has been competing in some of the most prestigious junior tournaments in the country over the past few years. He finished in a third place tie, one shot back at the Arnold Palmer Junior Invitational last month...and he has big dreams.

“I’m gonna be playing D1 golf,” Lucas said of his college plans. “And then hopefully at the end of it all, I’ll be playing at the professional level and making a living out of it.”

Lucas and Mia have another interesting dynamic: they often caddy for each other in tournaments.

“I love being able to be on the bag for Lucas,” Mia said. “It’s pretty easy for me to do it honestly because I can just give him a sightline or something and he can just hit it.”

“I think we make a great team,” Lucas said. “We trust each other with everything. I wish I was on the bag for her when she won her State Amateur. The one time I wasn’t there, she won it. But it was still awesome.”

Thomas and Elena’s competitive careers might be behind them...but don’t be surprised if you run into them on the course in the future.

“Next year, I’m going to SUNY-Delhi,” Thomas said. “I’m going for turf grass management, which is managing golf courses and it’s something that I’m really happy to do.”

“I think I’m gonna work on practicing and just see where it takes me,” Elena said. “Golf is a really cool sport because you can play it as old as you get. It never stops.”

And Paul and Erika are thrilled to see all that the game has done for their family.

“Our goal was always just for them to love the sport,” Paul said. “We love being at the golf course. And for them to share that same love of the sport is really great.”