Tom Connell’s sterling 42-year career as a professional, teacher, administrator, player and promoter of junior golf certainly underscores his Colorado Golf Hall of Fame credentials. But perhaps even more meritorious was his resolution to give up an impressive playing career to devote 100 percent of his efforts to his family and the Denver Country Club members whom he served so impressively as director of golf and head professional for 27 years until his retirement after the 2009 season.
His talent as a player came to the fore when Tom won the Colorado State High School Championship in his senior year of 1967 at Colorado Springs’ Wasson High. It earned him a full golf scholarship to New Mexico State University, where he distinguished himself admirably, playing in four NCAA championships and making it to the final 36 holes in two of them. As a professional, he led local qualifiers and played in two U.S. Opens, 1975 at Medinah and 1980 at Baltusrol, was runner-up in the 1976 Colorado PGA Championship and played in five PGA National Club Professional Championships.
More appealing than playing was a career as a teaching professional, which began the year of his graduation when he became an assistant pro under Paul Ransom at Valley Hi CC in Colorado Springs. Two years later he moved to the Country Club of Colorado in the Springs as an assistant to Winston Howe, then put the polish on his talents, as so many others did, under the tutelage of Warren Smith at Cherry Hills CC for three years.
Connell springboarded to the head pro position at Sheraton Resort course in Steamboat Springs, where in three short years he attracted a remarkable reputation that only improved as he moved in 1982 to Denver CC.
There he remained a force in Club and PGA Section affairs until his retirement. His legacy and the esteem in which he is held by fellow professionals and so many juniors and young assistants and members is legend.
Tom was 1986 Colorado PGA Teacher of the year, twice served on PGA national teaching seminars, served on the PGA National Education Committee, attended six PGA Teaching Seminars, and three times was Ping’s Club Fitter of the Year. A national PGA member since 1976, Tom also served as Colorado Section president in 1985 and was on the board of directors for 10 years and in 1975 served as president of the PGA Assistants.
He was Section Pro of the Year in 1988, won the Section’s 2008 Bill Strausbaugh Award for outstanding integrity and commitment to mentoring fellow professionals, won the 2009 Colorado Golf Association President’s Award for a lifetime of outstanding service to golf.