Dundalk Course Designer Dave Thomas Remembered

Golf’s Gentle Giant –

Family and friends gather for Dave Thomas memorial service.

 

05 Feb 14 – PGA Ireland

0502Dave Thomas Memorial Sir Bobby

World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton (above with his wife Norma) was among those celebrating the life of the late Dave Thomas at a memorial service at Lichfield Cathedral.

Family and friends from the golf world gathered at the service of thanksgiving for the former PGA captain, Ryder Cup player and legendary course designer who died last August, aged 79.

Great friend Peter Alliss gave an address as did Ken Schofield while another past PGA captain Alan Walker recited John Betjeman’s poem Seaside Golf.

European Tour chief executive George O’Grady was among leading figures from golf in attendance including Ryder Cup director Richard Hills, The PGA’s Sandy Jones and past players such as Neil Coles.

Schofield, in recognition of Thomas’ roots, likened him to another Welsh sporting hero from the past – John Charles, the late Leeds and Juventus player who was equally adept at centre-half or centre-forward earning the nickname Gentle Giant in lieu of never being sent off or cautioned during his career.

“He was golf’s John Charles,” said Schofield. “We loved him, we miss him and today we salute him.”

0502Dave Thomas Memorial

PGA captain Neil Selwyn-Smith (left) receives a Ryder Cup image from Dave’s son Paul after the memorial service.

Favourite Schofield memories included Thomas pushing for a special Ryder Cup tie exclusively for players introduced at his behest and marvelling at his calm when an earthquake shook a hotel they were staying in. “It was only 4.6 on the Richter Scale, I shouldn’t worry too much,” said Thomas.

Alliss said it had been a privilege to be Thomas’s friend, describing him as great company with a lovely nature but who could on occasion be roused.

He then recounted a tale of Thomas arguing the toss with duty customs for an hour-and-a-half as tried to bring four sets of clubs through one of London’s airports.

“Dave was trying to explain that tennis players bought 20 sets of rackets through unquestioned and that golf clubs were his tools.

“He ended up having to pay duty and moved on huffing and puffing but it was always somewhat enjoyable to see Dave blow a gasket.”

He also recalled the early days of their golf course design business and how a letter from a civil engineer sparked their interest, particularly Thomas’s.

“Dave discovered he had a great talent for drawing, composing and visualising courses. We became a very good partnership. I was the front man, the Ernie Wise to his Eric Morecambe.

“He had a very good eye and considering we never had great budgets we turned out some pretty good work.”

Sir Bobby Charlton and his wife Norma attended having first met Thomas back in 1967, describing him as a ‘great character full of stories’.

Afterwards his son Paul thanked The PGA for arranging the service, adding: “It was inspiring, thoughtful, the clergy and church do this sort of thing terribly well and the addresses by Ken (Schofield) and Peter (Alliss) were wonderful, Ken’s was reflective from a golfing point of view and Peter’s from a friend’s perspective and Alan (Walker) wrapped it up nicely with his thoughts and the John Betjamen poem.”

 

Dave Thomas