On Thursday, November 15th
, John L. Dunham, longtime Head Professional at Highland Golf & Country Club, was inducted into the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame in front of his family, friends and more than 100 Highland members.
Dunham is a native of Cincinnati, OH. Dunham began playing golf at the age of 12. Sneaking onto golf courses, playing golf until dark, caddying and using the ball diamond at an orphanage as his training ground - that’s how his golf passion began. Dunham was unable to afford golf lessons. He earned a golf scholarship to the University of Cincinnati and was a member of the men’s golf team from 1961-1965, including serving as team Captain in 1965. He earned a master’s degree, University of Cincinnati, in 1966.
In the summer of 1966, Dunham competed in the U.S. Amateur Championship at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA. He was the 1968 Men’s Club Champion at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, OH and winner of the Makatewah Pro-Am as an amateur shooting 66 and beating all amateurs and professional players in the field. In 1968 he was also the Champion of the Allen Joslin Memorial Championship in Cincinnati, OH (4 under par, 140), an event that golf legend Jack Nicklaus also won. During the 1960’s, he was a member of the Ohio TriState Championship Team for multiple years and was a two-time runner-up in the Greater Cincinnati Tournament of Champions.
Dunham began his professional career as an assistant at Maketewah Country Club in the fall of 1970 and at Kenwood Country Club from 1971-1973 in Cincinnati, OH. During his time as an assistant, he was a three-time champion of the Assistant’s Championship of the Southern Ohio PGA Cincinnati Chapter. He was also a member of the Mashburn Cup Team matches. During his early years as an assistant is where his passion for golf instruction began, where he gave between 400 - 1,200 private lessons per year.
In early 1972 (January- March) he was a golf instructor in Lima, Peru (South America) employed by the Federation of Peru Golf. During his time in Peru, he coached the Peruvian Junior Boy’s golf team during the South America Junior Championship and was filmed for a golf tape which was used as an instructional aid for the Federation of Peru Golf.
In 1974, at the age of 30, he was hired to be the head professional at Highland Golf and Country Club in Indianapolis. He worked there for 34 years before retiring in 2007. After retirement, he has served as the Director of Instruction at Highland for nine years. While at Highland, Dunham mentored approximately 30 assistant professionals of which 12 went on to become head golf professionals and many of which remained in the golf business their entire careers.
Dunham served as president of the Indiana PGA Section from 19811982. He was the 1983 Indiana PGA Golf Professional of the Year and the 2004 Indiana PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award winner. He was a member of the IGA/PGA Executive Board of Directors for eight years and served as a delegate to the National PGA of America meeting.
In 1998, Dunham was the recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash award - something he is very proud of. This award is a tribute usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor. Among those who have received Sagamores have been astronauts, presidents, politicians, ambassadors, artists, musicians, and ordinary citizens who have contributed greatly to our Hoosier heritage.
Dunham is most well-known and respected for his instruction of the game of golf. Throughout his career, John has given approximately 28,000 private golf lessons. Dunham is a four-time winner of the Indiana PGA Teacher of the Year Award (1988, 1991, 1994 and 2007). Dunham has been recognized by Golf Digest annual publication, Best Teachers in America and State, as the #1 Teacher in the state of Indiana approximately 16 times. He has also been recognized by Golf Magazine as one of the best teachers in the state.
Other noteworthy items of his instruction career include the following:
- Instructor at various PGA Business Schools and Educational Seminars
- Developed a golf tape entitled “Junior Golf with John Dunham” which was viewed on Indianapolis Cable TV
- Contributed a series of golf tips for the Indianapolis Star newspaper
- Contributed golf instruction articles for the Golf Paper sponsored by the IGA/PGA
- Taped golf instruction “tips” played on WIBC radio
- Has instructed and coached many students who have won several local, state and national titles
During his professional career in Indiana, his noteworthy playing accomplishments include the following:
- Won the 1983 Casa de Campo (Dominican Republic) Professionals Championship
- Five-time qualifier for the National Club Professional Championship
- Member of IGA/PGA Challenge Cup Teams (1976-1985)
- Winner (1995 - Senior Division) and runner-up (1989) in the Pete Dye Cup National Pro-Am Championship (tied for low pro in 1989 - 1 under par 71)
- Two-time winner of the Indiana PGA Pro-Assistant’s Championship (1974, 1991)
- Two-time winner of the Indiana State Pro-Am Championship (1974, 1984)
- Two-time runner-up of the Indiana PGA Pro-Pro Team Championship
- Runner-Up and semifinalist in the Indiana PGA Match Play Championship (1977, 1982)
- 3rd place in the Indiana PGA Stroke Play Championship (1979)
Dunham and his wife, Marci, live in Zionsville, IN, and are the proud parents of John and Jennifer and have five grandchildren - Marley (11), Lucy (8), Jack (3), Frances (4) and Thomas (2).