Grosse Pointe Woods
Lochomoor golf pro Tommy Valentine will be missed by all
July 24, 2014
GROSSE POINTE WOODS — His skill set was unmatched. He was a professional armed with knowledge of the game, and wisdom of how to teach it and how to promote it.
But there was something more to Thomas Valentine that set him apart.
“He was just a great people person,” said John Pershern, a longtime friend of Valentine’s and current golf pro at Lochmoor Club in Grosse Pointe Woods. “He made everyone feel good. He was a great instructor and ran the golf shop wonderfully. He was a businessman in the shop, but his strength was the way he treated others.”
Valentine, 64, passed away July 12 after a long battle with cancer.
Valentine served as Lochmoor’s golf professional from 1991-2007, hiring Pershern to work as an assistant in 1996.
Pershern spent the next three years working under Valentine, forming a friendship that lasted until his death.
“He was a friend and a mentor,” Pershern said. “He was the kind of guy that made you feel better. He went out of his way to do anything he could for others.”
Born October 21, 1949, in Atlanta, Georgia, Valentine grew up in athletics, eventually earning nine varsity letters during his time at Gainesville High while playing football, basketball and golf.
He went on to star at the University of Georgia from 1968-71 on the golf course, helping the Bulldogs to three consecutive SEC championships from 1969-71. He was named All-American in 1970.
After college, Valentine spent a dozen years playing on the PGA Tour, competing in roughly 250 tournaments and racking up more than 40 top-25 finishes.
Shortly after his professional playing days ended, Valentine came to Lochmoor.
“As the head golf pro, he was the ambassador of golf for the members at the club,” said Pershern. “As far as members were concerned, he was the consummate golf professional. He’d play with them, teach them, get them whatever they needed.”
Pershern credits much of what he is doing now to Valentine.
“To work with him for three years was one thing, but to rely on him the way I did in the years after was so important,” he explained. “I bounced so much off of him. I mean, from the business side of it certainly, but also the way to treat people. He taught me a lot.
“Let me put it this way,” Pershern continued. “If I got to play my last round of golf ever, I’d play with my dad, my son and Tommy Valentine. That’s what he meant to me. That’s what he meant to a lot of people around here.”