Dana Quigley, a Rhode Island native and die-hard Red Sox fan, will always be professional golf’s “Iron Man” because his playing in 278 straight events from 1997-2005 on the Champions Tour is a record that will never be broken. In his 14 years on Tour, he won 11 titles, had 128 top-10 finishes, and earned $14.7 million. In 2005, he was the Player-of-the-Year and won the Arnold Palmer Award as the leading money winner. Quigley was elected to the New England section of the PGA Hall of Fame in 2000.
His claim to fame and fortune, however, took a long time to evolve although his life has always revolved around golf, starting as a caddie at Rhode Island CC. He played at URI and turned pro in 1971. He was at his best in New England club pro opens and events, winning 18 times throughout his career, but he was marginal at best on the PGA Tour from 1978-1982, with a sixth in the 1980 Greater Milwaukee Open his best finish.
From 1983-96, he served as head professional at Crestwood CC in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, before qualifying on Mondays for the Champions Tour when he turned 50 in 1997. The rest is Iron Man history.
A horrific early morning auto accident on December 1, 2011, to his 27-year-old son Devon has really been the test of Quigley’s mettle, and he has responded as a champion would—with perseverance, optimism, and love. Devon, also a URI golfer and a pro, crashed into the rear end of a tractor trailer and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Although he has no movement in his body and cannot speak, he is alert and aware of his surroundings, but he needs extraordinary care. Devon was without insurance when he was injured.
When Quigley agreed with his friend and Champions Tour colleague Jim Colbert that he should hold a tournament to raise money for the medical expenses of Devon, the game’s greatest players unconditionally offered their support.
On February 3, 2013, at the Floridian in Palm City, the inaugural Devon Quigley Pro-Am, also called the Devo Strong Pro-Am, attracted Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Lee Trevino, who joined 14 other major winners such as Mark Calcavecchia, Raymond Floyd, Bernhard Langer, and Lanny Wadkins. They raised more than $1 million.
The second annual Devon Quigley Pro-Am has been scheduled for December 2-3 at The Wanderers GC in Wellington, Florida, and the response once again has been remarkable. Peter Jacobsen, one of this year’s participants, spoke for his brethren when he said, “We are a family on the PGA TOUR and when one of our own needs help, we all try to be there for him. Dana has been such an inspiration to all of us through his fight with Devon that we are all happy to pitch in.”
NEGM: What did you enjoy most about playing on the Champions Tour?
DQ: The competition, no question about it. Proving that I could have a successful career when many thought I wouldn’t—very satisfying that way. The fact that I was out there playing with the Big Boys and beating them. That was pretty cool.
NEGM: What pros were you close to on the Tour?
DQ: Allen Doyle, Jim Thorpe, and Ed Doughtery. The four of us played just about every practice round together. Allen and Thorpie and I had mirrored careers on the Champions Tour, winning about 35 tournaments all told. We had some great times together.
NEGM: What were your most important victories on the Champions Tour and NEPGA circuit?
DQ: The first one obviously, the Northville Long Island Classic in 1997, because it gave me my exemption. My father died the same day. So that win was significant in more than one way. My third victory at Raley’s Gold Rush Classic in Sacramento was special because my kids were there for the first time to see me play. My favorite place in the world is at Hualalai in Kona. It was always the first tournament of the year, and in four years I won it twice and came in second twice. And I beat Tom Watson three times in [his home town] Kansas City.
I won my State Open six times, the NEPGA five times, and the Mass Open three times in a row. All good memories.
NEGM: Does the “Iron Man” still play golf just about every day?
DQ: Not just about! Every day! I play in this Blue Tee Group at Bear Lakes every day and wouldn’t miss it. I still have a passion to get up in the morning to see where the ball is going.
NEGM: How many holes-in-one have you had? Double eagles?
DQ: I’ve had 28 aces and two double eagles. Gary Player and I started a hole-in-one club on the Champions Tour. We had 40 players in it at $100 an ace, and I made several. Those 39 guys hated to see me coming because they knew I wanted their $100.
NEGM: You’ve played all over the world. What are your five favorite courses here and abroad?
DQ: Hualalai in Kona, Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo in the DR, Pebble Beach, Trump International in West Palm, and the East Course at Ballen Isles in Palm Beach Gardens.
NEGM: What are the special qualities of New England courses that differentiate them from other parts of the country?
DQ: The Donald Ross touch. He is my favorite architect, and all his courses are special to me. What I love about New England courses are the small bentgrass greens with their perfect rolls, the tree-lined fairways, and the undulations and elevations from the tees to the fairways and on the greens.
NEGM: What are your five favorite New England courses?
DQ: Rhode Island CC is my all-time favorite. The Country Club in Brookline, Manchester CC in New Hampshire, Pleasant Valley in Massachusetts, and Metacomet CC in Rhode Island.
NEGM: Give us an update on Devon’s status?
DQ: It’ll be three years on December 1. He hasn’t moved yet. He is fully cognitive in his mind, and his brain is working perfectly. He can answer questions with a “Yes” or “No” reply with his eyes by looking up for “Yes” and down for “No.” We’re waiting on the Lord, and we’re very confident that it’s going to happen. His attitude is amazing—and I write about it in my CaringBridge post every night—because he knows how much trouble he is in. Yet, he is laughing all the time and is really teaching all of us a lot about ourselves and life.
NEGM: Comment upon the success of the first Devo-Strong Pro-Am.
DQ: Oh, yes! My hairs stand up when I think about it. It was beyond anything else in golf that I have ever seen. These great players did it for nothing. Every one said, “Just tell me when it is.” It was on Super Bowl Sunday, and they all had something else to do, I’m sure, but they all showed up, and that group will probably never be assembled again. And I found out just how much that these men loved Devon and me.
NEGM: How did this event make life better for Devon?
DQ: Oh, my gosh! I think about that all the time. From the proceeds, we’ve just finished a 2000 square foot addition to his house that we started in May. It includes a therapy room with all kinds of equipment, a special shower for him, and other improvements that will make his day-to-day living much easier. We’ve also used the money to take care of his day-to-day needs and care. The Pro-Am has made a profound difference in his quality of life.
NEGM: You must be looking forward to the second Pro-Am in at the Wanderers Club.
DQ: Certainly. It will be another great event, and, like last year, the response has been overwhelming. I’m excited because Devon wasn’t there for the first one but will be there for this one, and the guys will be able to say hello. Here are just a few: Mark Calcavecchia, Brad Faxon, Raymond Floyd, Peter Jacobsen, Bernhard Langer, Rocco Mediate, Larry Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Kenny Perry, [nephew] Brett Quigley, Jim Thorpe, and Fuzzy Zoeller.
NEGM: Did you have any idea that so many pros and amateurs would respond to the Devo Strong Pro-Am event?
DQ: It still makes me very emotional to think that they would do that. I’ll be indebted to them forever. Many of the pros said they responded because of the way I have always treated people and because they wanted to help Devon. Also, I can’t thank the amateurs enough for their support, and many are returning again this year. From everyone involved, it’s been quite a tribute.
All photographs by Vicky MacKay unless noted otherwise.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?