WEST COVINA, Calif. » Former professional golfer Roger Dunn, who established a chain of discount golf equipment retail stores in California and Hawaii, has died. He was 81.
Dunn died of heart failure Aug. 28 at West Covina’s Kindred Hospital east of Los Angeles, his daughter Cheryl Alderson told the .
In 1946, when he was a 15-year-old caddie at Annandale Golf Club in Pasadena, Dunn was sponsored by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby as the Southern California representative at the inaugural National Caddie Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.
He was a top junior golfer in the late 1940s and competed in tournaments against future Hall of Fame golfers Gene Littler and Billy Casper.
Dunn was the Western State Conference champ in 1950, and while at the University of Southern California, he was the Pacific Coast Conference Champion in 1951.
Dunn played on the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour in the early 1960s before teaching golf at the Studio City Golf Course in 1962.
Three years later he began operating a driving range in North Hollywood and turned the front area into a pro shop in what became the first retailer offering golf equipment at a discount.
"The PGA mandated you had to mark up products at least 40 percent," Dunn told Southland Golf magazine. "I thought that was too much. So at the end of the model year, I would buy up merchandise at a deep discount, and even with a 40 percent markup it was still cheaper than anywhere else."
Steve Dunn bought out his father in 1988, and he sold the chain in 1993 to Worldwide Golf Enterprises Inc. There now are 18 Roger Dunn Golf Shops in California and Hawaii.
"He certainly changed golf retail," said John Kopacz, vice president of store operations for Worldwide Golf. "The way golfers could buy golf equipment at discounted prices wasn’t available until he came along."
Dunn returned to teaching golf in Studio City in 1988 at Weddington Golf and Tennis. He gave lessons until he was hospitalized in May.
Besides daughter Cheryl and son Steve, Dunn is survived by his other children, Tim and Tracy, and a brother, Ray.
A celebration of Dunn’s life will be held September 30 at Weddington Golf and Tennis.