Tuesday, December 23, 2014





Tom Nieporte, the long-time head professional at Winged Foot Golf Club, passed away Sunday in South Florida. He was 86.
Nieporte had three career US PGA Tour victories, and he’s the last club pro to win a Tour event, capturing the Bob Hope Desert Classic in 1967. 
He was a teaching pro for 45 years on Long Island, including 28 at Winged Foot (1978 to 2006), which last hosted the U.S. Open in 2006. 
Nieporte has nine children and 28 grandchildren. His son, John, the current head pro at Trump International in West Palm Beach, qualified for the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. 

Nieporte, who was named Golfweek's Father of the Year in 2010, is survived by his wife of 60 years, Joan, and their nine children.
"Tom never had a negative thing to say, even after the worst shot imaginable," Winged Foot president John Schneider told The Journal News. 
 "We were just so proud to have him as our pro. If you played a round of golf with Tom, you checked your own values and walked away saying, 'I need to be more like that.' He was what a golfer should be. He was everyone's pro."
Nieporte, a Cincinnati native, caddied as a youth and worked at the former MacGregor factory in his home town before attending Ohio State University and winning the 1951 NCAA individual title. He won twice on the forerunner to today's US PGA Tour: the 1959 Rubber City Open and the 1960 Azalea Open.
 But the travel and lack of steady paycheck prompted Nieporte to accept a job as club professional at Piping Rock on Long Island. He still competed as time from his full-time job would allow and won the 1967 Bob Hope Desert Classic.
No full-time club pro has won on US PGA Tour since.
Bobby Heins, the head professional at Old Oaks in Purchase, New York State, and a protege of Nieporte's, shared this story about that 1967 victory in the California desert with The Journal News:
"Tom didn't know he was in the tournament until the last minute, so he packed in a hurry. He ended up with two different white shoes. Tom makes a nice putt on the last hole to win, and during the award ceremony, Delores Hope points out that he's wearing two different white shoes, and Tom says, 'I have another pair just like that at home.' That was typical."

 Winged Foot Golf Club is a 36-hole golf course located in Mamaroneck, New York State. The course architect is A. W. Tillinghast, who also designed Baltusrol (Lower), Bethpage Black, Suburban Golf Club, Shackamaxon Country Club, San Francisco Golf Club, Cedar Crest Park, and nearby Quaker Ridge Golf Club, Scarboro Golf and Country Club in Toronto and Wykagyl Country Club. 
Winged Foot Golf Club was founded in 1921, by a consortium consisting mainly of members of The New York Athletic Club. The club gets its name and logo from the NYAC's logo, but the two have never had any direct affiliation. 
Opened 91 years ago in June 1923, application for membership to Winged Foot G.C. is by invitation only.



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