David Bromley Ends an Era at the Doon

Denis Dale and John Coomber share reflections on long time Bonnie Doon Golf Club member Dave Bromley … “Not many club golfers can say they played with Jack Nicklaus in the Australian Open and made the cut.”
Denis Dale and John Coomber share reflections on long time Bonnie Doon Golf Club member Dave Bromley … “Not many club golfers can say they played with Jack Nicklaus in the Australian Open and made the cut.”

I had known the name Dave Bromley and admired his achievements since I was a junior golfer in the 60’s but had never played with him until the 2005 Australian Senior Amateur Championships at Royal Queensland. It was the last year of match play for this championship and I played “Brom” in the first round of the Consolation Plate.

I recall that I had played well, enjoyed the game and that Dave was a deserving winner when he holed a long birdie putt on the seventeenth hole. We have since played each other several times in the Masters Pennant and I now have a career total of one win against Dave.

Dave Bromley and Bonnie Doon Golf Club go together. A member for 55 years and a six-time club champion he is now leaving the Doon. Following the death of his great friend David Meredith in June, it really does mark the end of an era for the club.

Bonnie Doon club member John Coomber prepared the following tribute to Dave Bromley for the club’s newsletter and he has kindly agreed to have it republished here.

Denis Dale

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[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]”Jack was very good,” Dave recalled. “He didn’t say too much – ‘good shot’ and that sort of thing.”[/typography]

 

By John Coomber

NOT many club golfers can say they played with Jack Nicklaus in the Australian Open and made the cut. Dave Bromley can.

Bromley partnered the great man in the first two rounds at The Lakes in 1964. Nicklaus went on to beat Bruce Devlin in a playoff and record the first of his six victories in a tournament then considered the world’s “fifth Major”.

Bromley, a 20-year-old member at neighbouring Bonnie Doon, was understandably nervous at the prospect, but he was soon put at his ease.

“Jack was very good,” Dave recalled. “He didn’t say too much – ‘good shot’ and that sort of thing.”

He must have said “good shot” quite a few times to the young Bromley, who had opening rounds of 78-74. It might not sound brilliant in today’s terms, but he was only six shots behind Nicklaus (75-71) and made the cut comfortably.

David finished the tournament tied 33rd. Conditions must have been tough – there were only a handful of rounds in the 60s throughout the four days in a field that also included British Open winner Bob Charles, Bruce Crampton, Ted Ball, Billy Dunk and Peter Thompson, who was to win his fifth British Open eight months later.

Bromley, known in those days as “Daryl the Dart” for his great accuracy, made the cut in three Australian Opens.

He also shot 71-70 to lead The Lakes Open at the halfway mark, though the pressure of being in front told on the weekend.

You’d think he might know what a good golfer looked like. His partner in those first two rounds was a young bloke playing in his first professional event.

“He hit it sideways,” said Dave, who later declared to his father “This fella will never, ever make it as a pro.”

(A few weeks ago the no-hoper who hit it sideways was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. His name is David Graham, the only Australian to win two majors in the United States (PGA 1979, US Open 1981).

“I’m a good judge, aren’t I,” David said.

Good judge or not, David was certainly a fine player.  He finished runner-up in the Australian Amateur in 1982, to Eric Couper, and also made the final of the NSW Amateur at St Michaels the same year. He played against Tony Gresham, perhaps Australia’s greatest post-war amateur.

“I was playing pretty well at the time,” David recalled. “I thought: ‘If I shoot par around here I’ll be in with a decent chance’.”

He did shoot par in the first round and was seven-down. “Gresham shot 65 with a lost ball”. When the match finished at the 33rd hole David was two-under and lost 5 and 3.

For all that, his proudest achievement in golf is winning six club championships at Bonnie Doon. And he’s most proud of the first one.

It was 1966 and in the final he found himself up against Barrie Baker, who had won the NSW and Australian Amateur titles a bit over a year earlier, and had played Eisenhower Cup for Australia.

“I thought ‘Gawd, I’m no chance here’,” Dave recalled.

And so it was no real surprise when he found himself three-down at lunch and then six-down with 10 holes to play.

Nearly 50 years later, “The Brom” can recall exactly what happened then. “I birdied 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 to get to one down. Then holed a 20-footer on 14 for par to get to square.

“I parred the 15th to go one-up. We got to the 16th (in those days an eccentric and very difficult par-three with the green down near the fence on Heffron Road).

“My hands were shaking but somehow I got it on the green. Barrie hooked his way left then hit a magician’s pitch that went round the hole and finished half an inch away.

“Somehow I holed a 30-footer for birdie and I was dormie.

“We halved the 17th in fours and that was it. I could hardly believe it.”

Dave also went on to win the club title in 1972,1974,1977,1978 and 1982. In one of the qualifying rounds (he can’t remember which) he shot 65 off the plates – his best round at the Doon.

Dave Bromley large

He won a club championship of one sort or another in five consecutive decades from the 1960s to the 2000s. His last was the club senior championship in 2002.

His much older brother Les, who died two years ago at the age of 86, won the club championship three times – in 1954, 1956 and 1962.

Now, after 55 years, Dave is saying goodbye to the Doon. He is also saying goodbye to work after the same length of time.

Unlike today’s leading amateurs, Dave has always been a working man. After studying to be a gemologist in his teen years he went to work for his father in the vegetable markets at Haymarket and later at Flemington. He worked from 4am until about 11am, leaving him plenty of time for golf.

He retired from the markets a few weeks ago and with his wife Jeanette (his first wife Margaret died in 2000) is moving to Lake Illawarra. He is joining Port Kembla Golf Club.

A few weeks ago the newly retired David had his first round in the Bonnie Doon Wednesday member’s competition in more than 30 years. He marked the occasion by getting a hole-in-one at the 15th.

Dave has been captain of Bonnie Doon’s Masters Pennant team for many years.

At 70 he still plays off six, as does his mate and rival Barrie Baker, who is 77.

With David Meredith, who died in June at the age of 74, they formed a formidable troika for Bonnie Doon over many years in both Major and Masters pennants.

The two Davids worked together at the markets and were the closest of friends.

“The thing I’ve enjoyed most about Bonnie Doon has been the camaraderie and the good sportsmanship,” David said.

“I have made a lot of good friends, and I think I can say I’ve never had a cross word with anybody over more than 50 years.”

Which ultimately, is what golf is all about.

 

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