Strange, Tom (1997)

About Strange, Tom (1997)

No tribute video has been produced.

1931-1969. In an eleven year professional career that ended all too soon, Tom Strange compiled an impressive set of credentials in Middle Atlantic PGA and Virginia golf circles.

A Cincinnati native, Tom started as a caddie at Hyde Park Golf Club. He became a leading amateur when he won the city title at age 18. Even before that city championship, he won a match in the 1948 U.S. Amateur. In 1950 and 1951, Tom again played in the U.S. Amateur. Of greater magnitude, he qualified for three U.S. Opens, 1949-1951 at the end of his teenage years.

Military duty in the Coast Guard brought him to Norfolk. He won the City Amateur in 1955 and 1956, played in the U.S. Amateur in 1955, and won the Virginia State Open at Ocean View in 1957, shooting a playoff 64 against local professional Harold “Shorty” Oatman. As the 1957 golf season wound down, Tom also triumphed in the inaugural Eastern Amateur at Elizabeth Manor. Soon thereafter, he accepted the head professional position at Elizabeth Manor CC.

In 1960, he and Sam Snead played an exhibition against Chandler Harper and Jack Isaacs at Ocean View. Snead offered him a position as the “Host Professional” at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, which began in early 1961. After a nearly two-year hiatus, Tom Strange returned to Norfolk as the head PGA Professional at Bow Creek Golf and Country Club.

Nationally, once a professional, he played in three more U.S. Opens during the 1960s: 1964 at Congressional, 1967 at Baltusrol finishing in a tie for 48th, and 1968 at Oak Hill. He led the field in the 1964 U.S. Open Sectional qualifier at Woodmont with a 69 and 70. In the 1967 U.S. Open Qualifier at Crofton CC, he, Lee Elder, and Lanny Wadkins led the field.

As a MAPGA Section player, Tom Strange won state crowns four more times. In 1963 at Blue Hills he opened with 68 and 67 on his way to the VAGP title. The next year he captured the VAGP Championship at Cavalier Yacht and CC. A third VAGP Championship came to him in a playoff over Herb Hooper at Bide-A-Wee in 1966. The last title, this time at the VSGA Open, took place at Chatmoss in Martinsville in 1967. In the 1968 Virginia PGA Championship he lost by a stroke to Chandler Harper on the last day as the two battled over four days, never more than a stroke apart. And finally, he played on the 1968 MAPGA Schmidt Cup Team against the Philadelphia Section at Atlantic City CC and won both his matches.

Regionally, he won the Tom Ferguson Memorial Tournament at Bow Creek in 1963 with 67 and 65 on the first two days, pulled further ahead with 67 the third day and with a final round 71 only Avery Beck, a PGA Tour player, moved within three shots. Claude King and Jack Isaacs, also MAPGA Hall of Fame honorees, and Lou Graham, a U.S. Open winner, trailed by several more strokes. At the Fredericksburg CC pro-member in 1967, his 68 led Deane Beman and the rest of the field by three.

Not only one of the country’s finest players, Tom Strange became well-regarded as a teacher as well. There are many in golfing circles who have testified to his excellence, creativity, and far-sightedness in working with those who aspired to play the game.  (rev. 2004)