Dave Philo, an accomplished golfer who owned The Golf Center in Pawleys Island for the past 27 years with his wife, Penny, died Wednesday night at the age of 76 at his home in Pawleys Island.
The lifetime member of the PGA of America had been battling several debilitating conditions in recent years.
Philo’s playing career included some PGA Tour and Champions Tour events, but he was most recognized on the Grand Strand for his golf store, where he was known to have copies of “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf” and cut down clubs at the ready to give to captivated youth. He was a Wilson Staff member for more than 50 years.
“Golf was David’s life and he always felt privileged to be able to play,” Penny said. “One of the things he did frequently was if a youngster would come in who really seemed to be interested in golf, he’d give him a copy of Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons. He gave away hundreds of copies of that book. He loved being able to keep that interest going.”
A funeral and memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Holy Cross Faith Memorial Church in Pawleys Island with a reception to follow.
The Golf Center will continue to be operated by Penny and one of Philo’s two daughters, Amie, who is also a PGA professional.
Philo was born in Amsterdam, N.Y., and raised in Scotia, N.Y. He won several amateur tournaments in New York before graduating from Florida State University in 1963 after earning Honorable Mention All-America golf honors and turning pro.
He began his career as a club professional in 1965 in Florida and became a PGA of America member in 1969.
While in Florida, he won the North Florida PGA Section Championship four consecutive years and several other pro events, and in 1969 he made the cut at the U.S. Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston.
Philo returned to New York in 1975 as golf director at the Lake Placid Club Resort and furthered his career as a teacher, player and merchandiser before moving to New Mexico in 1987 to help develop Elephant Butte Golf Course.
He moved to Pawleys Island in 1989 and opened The Golf Center while working on his game and playing in Sunbelt Senior Tour events.
PGA Tour records show Philo played in two PGA Tour events in 1982 and earned more than $23,000 in 16 Champions Tour events between 1990 and 1998. He twice narrowly missed earning tour status at the annual Champions Tour qualifying tournament and instead earned sporadic spots in events through weekly qualifiers.
Philo was an active senior player throughout the 1990s, winning the Carolinas PGA Senior Player of the Year for low stroke average six times; winning the CPGA Senior Championship from 1991-94; finishing third twice in the National PGA Senior Championship; and winning the 1995 National PGA Quarter Century Championship.
His numerous other wins include the 1990 and ’93 Carolinas Senior Open, 1991 Low Country Senior Open, 1992 Cooperstown (NY) Senior Open, 1993 Mid Pines Senior Open and 1998 Sandhills Senior Open.
In addition to his wife and daughter Amie, Philo is also survived by son Darian; daughter-in-law Jenny; son-in-law Richard Morris; grandchildren Kayla, Emma and Abi Philo; brother Ron Philo; and sister Bonnie Nenninger.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Midway Fire and Rescue Department at 67 St. Pauls Place in Pawleys Island.