Dan Cullen: Golf’s century man - PGA of Australia

Dan Cullen: Golf’s century man

Considered a golfing legend and the PGA’s longest serving Member, Daniel (Dan) Cullen is proof that golf can contribute to longevity.

Considered a golfing legend and the PGA’s longest serving Member, Daniel (Dan) Cullen is proof that golf can contribute to longevity.

Born in Bunbury Western Australia in 1914, Cullen holds a well earned reputation as a well respected Club Professional and capable golfer.


Dan Cullen (Right) with PGA Chairman Mark Gibson in 2011

With a dream of being a Club Professional, Cullen entered his first pro shop at the age of 14 completing a Traineeship at the Western Australian Golf Club under the guidance of club Professional, Eric Alberts. From here, Cullen transferred to Cottesloe Golf Club in 1931 where he had progressed to Assistant Professional, an all encompassing job where giving lessons and crafting clubs went hand in hand. In 1932 at the age of 17, Cullen joined the PGA.


Sunday Times, Perth WA, Sunday 24 August 1952

Cullen learnt to play the game without golf equipment, a piece of tree or pipe served to fill the void of a proper club, which Cullen believes did not impair his game.

In 1937 and 1938 Cullen won the West Australian Open and following this in 1939 defeated Bobby Locke in an exhibition game at Royal Perth Golf Club. Locke, one of South Africa’s most successful Professional golfers, advised Cullen he should move to Sydney where wider competition opportunities existed. Heeding this advice Cullen moved and found employment as a Golf Professional at Anthony Hordern and Sons, the largest department store in the world. However, having never worked indoors before Cullen found the work a challenge and a significant contrast to his work at Cottesloe.


The Daily News, Perth WA, Wednesday 13 December 1944

By 1941 Australia was in the midst of World War II and with the country committed to the war effort, Cullen, who also had an interest in flying planes, enlisted in the RAAF and was one of over 200,000 men and women who served between 1939 and 1945. For three years, Cullen 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. Over 9,000 RAAF personnel lost their lives in World War II with the majority occurring in the air war against Germany. Cullen was one of the lucky ones.

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. Despite the situation, Cullen continued the mission eventually landing safely with only one engine in operation; heroics which earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) medal. Introduced by King George V for Air Force officers, the majority of Australians who have received a DFC for exceptional valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy served in World War II.  

Even during the war years, Cullen’s love of golf never faded and whenever the opportunity presented itself he went golfing across England, Scotland and Ireland. He quickly ran into good form, meeting up with Irish PGA Champion Harry Bradshaw, Open Champion Henry Cotton MBE, Ryder Cup Captain Charles Whitcombe and British PGA Matchplay Champion, Archie Compston.  


Cullen prior to his appointment as President of the PGA

Upon returning home to Australia in 1945, Cullen became Club Professional at Roseville Golf Club for nine years before moving to St Michaels Golf Club where he worked for over 22 years. 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 British Open and became the oldest qualifier in the tournaments history. Initially, experts believed he was wasting his time. Cullen teed off in a field alongside the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Bob Shearer, Graham Marsh and Gary Player.  

Cullen has taught the game of golf to thousands through Cullen’s Driving Range, which he operated in the late 1960s and is managed today by the St Michaels Golf Club in Little Bay.

These days, Cullen resides in Little Bay with his wife of 74 years, Enid.

Considered an Australian golfing legend and holding a well earned reputation as both a Club Professional and capable golfer, Cullen is proof that golf can contribute to longevity. His loyal service to our industry and the dedication he has shown in growing our great game for the next generation will continue to be remembered.

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