By PGA of Australia
The PGA of Australia is mourning the loss of its longest serving Member and decorated returned soldier, Dan Cullen DFC.
Cullen, a Life Member of the PGA, passed away on Australia Day after a short illness. He was 101.
“It’s a sad day for the PGA and the golf industry, we’ve lost a doyen of the game and the Membership,” said Brian Thorburn, Chief Executive Officer of the PGA.
“Dan contributed greatly to the sport of golf as both a Club and Tournament Professional, not to mention his bravery and heroics during World War II.”
“He will be sadly missed and our thoughts and sympathies are with the Cullen family at this time.” Thorburn added.
Born in Bunbury WA in 1914, Cullen held a well-earned reputation as a respected Club Professional and capable golfer.
Cullen joined the PGA in 1932 after completing his Traineeship at the Western Australian Golf Club under the guidance of Club Professional, Eric Alberts, before moving to Cottesloe Golf Club.
In 1937 and 1938 Cullen won the West Australian Open and following this in 1939 defeated South African Bobby Locke in an exhibition game at Royal Perth Golf Club.
Cullen credited Locke, one of South Africa’s most successful Professional golfers, for developing his career as a Professional.
In 1941 Cullen enlisted in the RAAF and was deployed to Europe and for three years piloted Lancaster bombers – a job that held less than a one in four chance of surviving 30 missions.
Incredibly, Cullen piloted 32 operational flights over Europe and survived.
On a routine bombing run over Friedrichshafen in April 1944 Cullen had a narrow escape when a shell attack by the enemy crippled his plane and injured his crew.
These heroics earned Cullen the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) medal.
Upon returning home to Australia in 1945, Cullen was appointed Club Professional at Roseville Golf Club before moving to St Michael’s Golf Club.
Between 1948 and 1960, Cullen served as Director and Chairman of the NSW PGA, prior to his appointment as President of the PGA, which he held from 1951 – 1955.
In 1977 at the age of 64 Cullen qualified for The Open, the oldest qualifier in the tournaments history, and teed off in a field alongside Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Bob Shearer, Graham Marsh and Gary Player.
Cullen taught the game of golf to thousands through Cullen’s Driving Range, which he operated in the late 1960s and managed today by the St Michael’s Golf Club in Little Bay.
In July 2015 Cullen received the Legion d’Honneur Medal, the highest decoration in France, for his active service as a Lancaster Bomber pilot over French soil during World War II.
Cullen’s loyal service to the golf industry and the dedication he showed in growing the game will continue to be remembered.