The Golf Center
Dave Philo

Dave PhiloWhen Dave Philo was 10 years old, he used his baseball glove to shag balls for his father. It didn’t take him long to realize that he’d rather play than shag balls. Although he loved baseball, basketball, track and cross country, golf was his passion – a passion he turned into a life long career as a PGA Professional – a golfer who played, who taught, who merchandised, who always tried to help others enjoy the game he loves.

Born April 11, 1940 in Amsterdam, NY, David Kenneth Philo grew up in Scotia, NY. His first tournament win was his Caddy Championship at the Mohawk Club. He grew up playing at the Edison Club, where he won the men’s Championship in four consecutive years, as well as numerous other club tournaments. Some 30 years later, in 1987, he was elected to the Edison Club Hall of Fame.

In his senior year (1958) he won his state sectional high school championship. He started college at Mississippi State and in his sophomore year transferred to Florida State University where he was a walk on for the golf team. Prior to graduating in 1963, he was captain of the golf team, helped coach the team, and received Honorable Mention on the 1963 NCAA All American Team.

During his college years he successfully competed in many open tournaments. He was low amateur in the 1960 Guide Step Open (Binghamton, NY), the 1963 Lake Shore Open (Rochester, NY), and won the Schenectady County Amateur Championship in 1960 & 1962.

It was during this time that he established his relationship with Wilson Golf at the 1960 Cooperstown (NY) Open (where he was low amateur). At that event, he met Leo McNamara who gave him a dozen Wilson Staff golf balls. Dave was already playing with Wilson Staff clubs, and his introduction to Leo solidified his position as a Wilson Staff member. To this day, he has always competed with Wilson Staff in and on his bag, and has always been a strong advocate of Wilson golf equipment in his golf shops.

In 1963 David won the Pot of Gold Pro Am (Moultrie GA) and the Heart of Dixie Pro Am (Tuscaloosa, Al), and then declared his professional status in Kennesaw, Ga. He was successful in obtaining his Tour Card and spent the next year Monday qualifying. When he was unable to keep his card, he entered the newly formed PGA Qualifying School in 1965, where he succeeded in again obtaining his Tour Card. However, the day he earned his card, he also received his draft notice, and spent the next 6 years in the Army Reserves. For the first three years he worked at Ironwood Golf Course in Gainesville, FL and then became Head Professional at Timuquana Country Club, Jacksonville, FL (1968-1974). In July, 1969 he was elected to membership in the PGA as a Class A Professional.

Throughout his career as a club professional, David continued his playing career and also earned a reputation as a great teacher and merchandiser. During this period, he made the cut in the Jacksonville Open three times, won the North Florida PGA Section Championship four consecutive times, and finished 3rd in the Florida Open. In 1969, he qualified for and completed four rounds in the US Open at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, and led the tournament for 9 holes. He also won the Jacksonville Inlet Open, the Jacksonville Beach Open, the Indian River Open (New Smyrna Beach), the Pontiac Open (Ormond Beach), the Gator Pro Am (individual and team), the Riviera Open, and the Kissimmee Open.

In 1975 Dave returned to New York State as Golf Director at the Lake Placid Club Resort. Here he continued his career as a club professional, excelling as a teacher, player and merchandiser, earning the NENY PGA Section award for Merchandiser of the Year, Resort Category. He finished second in the 1979 NYS Open, won his section Match Play and Stroke Play events, finished 4th in the New York State PGA Championship, and competed in the NENY PGA Section Gazette Cup Team matches. (He would subsequently represent his PGA section on Cup Team Matches in the Sunbelt Section and twice in the Carolinas Section). In 1982 a top seven finish in the National PGA Club Professionals Championship qualified him for the National PGA Cup Team Matches at Holston Hills, Chattanooga, TN, and for the 1982 PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Also in 1982, the Lake Placid Club Resort hosted an exhibition match featuring Dave against tour player George Burns. With the home course advantage, Dave won the match. In the winter months, he competed successfully in PGA Winter Tour events in Florida, with wins in Palm Beach (1978), and Port St. Lucie (twice).

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In 1987 Dave moved to New Mexico to help develop the original Elephant Butte Golf Course.  He played in Sunbelt PGA Section events and spent countless hours working on his game in preparation for the Senior Tour.

In 1989 he returned east, where, with his wife and his sister-in-law, Dave opened The Golf Center, in Pawleys Island, SC. He put his skills to use creating a shopping environment that would have something for everyone – a wide selection of top brand merchandise, club fitting and club repair, clothing, accessories, an outdoor area for testing clubs and taking lessons – everything one could need, surrounded by memorabilia that showcase the game of golf.

In 1990, Dave started playing on the Senior Tour. He would twice miss getting his card in a playoff (tied 16h) but nonetheless qualified for many senior events. For the next ten years, he would continue to hone his skills, playing in section events, national club professional events and senior tour events, including the 1990 Crestar Classic, 1990 NYNEX Golf Digest Classic (Sleepy Hollow), 1990 Northville LI Classic (Meadowbrook), 1990 NYNEX Commemorative, 1992 Senior British Open (Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s), 1992 Nationwide Senior Classic (Atlanta), 1992 Digital Senior Classic (Concord)(27 hole leader), 1992 MONY Syracuse Senior Classic; 1993 Bank of Boston Senior Classic; 1993 Quicksilver Classic; 1993 Nike South Carolina Classic.

Dave was the CPGA Senior Player of the Year (low stroke average) six times, won the CPGA Senior Championship in 1991, 92, 93 and 94; finished third two times in the National Senior Club Professional championship; played in 9 National PGA Senior Championships; and won the 1995 National PGA Quarter Century Championship.

Other wins include:

1990 and 1993 Carolinas Senior Open
1991 Low Country Senior Open
1992 Cooperstown (NY) Senior Open
1992 Spalding Cross Creek Low Country Open
1993 Mid Pines Senior Open
1994 Cleghorn Senior Open
1995 Landfall Senior Open
1996 Santee National Golf Club Open
1998 Sandhills Senior Open
1998 Fripp Island Senior Open

When David stopped playing competitively, his love for the game did not diminish. He remained a Class A (Lifetime) member of the PGA, played, taught, and kept Wilson Staff on and in his bag. He passed away on November 30, 2016. While he is no longer with us physically, his spirit and passion for the game are ever present in those who knew and loved him, and still can be found throughout The Golf Center that he created.