Golf mourns Paddy O'Looney and Tommy Horton
The late Paddy O'Looney

The late Paddy O'Looney

Irish and British golf was in mourning on Friday following the deaths of popular figures Paddy O’Looney and Tommy Horton.

Paddy, who passed away after a long illness, was a former Chief Executive of SWING (South West of Ireland Golf) and a leading figure in the Irish golf tourism business for many years.

Long regarded as Ireland's unofficial golfing ambassador,  he was honoured by the Ireland Golf Tour Operator Association (IGTOA) in 2011 with the Jerry Donworth Outstanding Contribution to Golf Award for his work in golf tourism. 

Marty Carr of Carr Golf said: “Paddy pioneered the promotion of Irish Links golf in Country Clubs across the US. In fact he singlehandedly put the South West of Ireland on the map in golfing terms. There was no Golf Club in any corner of the US where you would go and your wouldn't be asked if you knew him. He was an accomplished golfer, a raconteur and truly one of the great ambassadors and the face of Irish Golf in the US for decades and he will be sadly missed.”

"It was with a heavy heart that I learned this morning of the passing of my great friend,mentor and colleague Paddy O’Looney in Tralee, Co.Kerry," said Stacey Williams, former Chief Executive of the IGTOA.

"Paddy was a leading figure in the international promotion of Irish golf tourism across the world. He was a mover and a shaker, a visionary with a mission, he knew everyone in the world of professional and amateur golf and they all knew him.

"Paddy had a bigger picture vision of Irish golf tourism and was a pioneer in attracting hundreds of overseas golfing visitors to our shores. Paddy O’Looney’s determination and hard work can now be seen each year on the busy fairways of Ireland’s links and parkland golf courses. 

"He is now hopefully on the fairways of heaven looking down on us all laughing and joking about his scratch handicap as only Paddy could.

"My deepest sympathies to his wife Joey, his sister Rodie and the O’Looney family. He was a bright shining star and the world of Irish golf has lost a leading light. Rest in peace my friend."

Former PGA captain and Ryder Cup player Tommy Horton passed away on Friday at the age of 76 after a long illness.

Tommy was PGA captain in 1978 and played in the Ryder Cup on two occasions.

He won four European Tour events and finished in the top 10 three times. His best year was 1976 when he was fifth.

His record on the Senior Tour was even more impressive. The Tour was founded shortly after Tommy reached the qualifying age of 50 in 1991 and he was the dominant figure in its early days.

He headed the money list in five seasons – 1993, 96, 97, 98 and 99 – and led the Tour’s career prize-winning chart until 2007 when he was overtaken by Carl Mason.

Tommy Horton. Picture: Getty Images

Tommy Horton. Picture: Getty Images

Despite these successes on the big stage, Tommy remained a club pro at heart and a loyal PGA Member.

Having begun his career as a professional at Ham Manor Golf Club, Sussex, in 1959, he moved to Royal Jersey Golf Club as head PGA Professional in 1974.

Tommy, who was born in St Helens, Lancashire, had grown up in the Channel Islands and served the Royal Jersey Golf Club for 25 years before retiring in 1999.

However, he maintained his long association with the club and it was there he was taken ill on December 7 before passing away later that evening in hospital.

Reflecting on Tommy Horton’s career, PGA chief executive Robert Maxfield, said: “Despite his success at the game’s highest level Tommy was first and foremost a PGA Professional.

“He flew the flag for the Association at every opportunity, especially during his year as captain.

“The days when club professionals like Tommy could excel on the Tour are long gone but he never lived in the past and was always mindful of the game’s future.

“To that end he was the first honorary captain of the European Junior Ryder Cup team for the match in 2008 and for the three subsequent encounters.

“He also kept in touch with The PGA and attended the most recent biennial Past Captains’ Lunch in March.

“He was accompanied by Helen, his wife, and we extend our deepest sympathy to her and his family at this desperately sad time.”