July 29, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Tom Simon, the University of Michigan's first women's varsity golf coach, passed away Saturday (July 28) at the age of 83. Not only was Simon the first head coach for the women's team, he took over as the Wolverines men's head coach in 1978 and coached both teams until the end of the 1981-82 season.
Simon's time with the women's program saw the Wolverines qualify for three national MAIAW Tournaments in his six years, finishing among the top 10 schools in the nation in each of those events.
As head coach of the men's program, Simon led the 1980 squad to second place in the Big Ten Tournament -- the best finish of any Wolverine team since 1968. John Morse, who won the 1993 Nike New England Classic and who eventually earned his PGA Tour card at the age of 35, was a member of that squad.
Simon's interest in golf started at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Working as a caddie, he was able to hone his game from his mentors, Byron Nelson and Herman Lang, who at the time were the pro and assistant pro at Inverness.
As a junior player, Simon was well known. He went on to win many local amateur titles in the Midwest as well as setting numerous course records. By 1950 Tom turned pro and played in one PGA Tour tournament before being drafted into the U.S. Army.
He served his country as a member of the Third Infantry Division in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 when he was honorably discharged as a Sergeant First Class and recipient of medals such as U.S. National Defense, United Nations Service, Conduct Ribbon Republic of Korea War Service Medal, and U.S. Army Korean Service.
His attempt to return to the PGA Tour was unsuccessful, but opportunities as a club pro in California kept him in the game.
In 1969, he moved to Ann Arbor and met U-M director of athletics Don Canham, who offered Simon the job as club professional and manager of the University of Michigan Golf Course -- a position he held until his retirement in 1988.
While working at the U-M Golf Course, Simon played in numerous tournaments. He was the low qualifier at the U.S. Senior Open at Oakland Hills in the early '80s and won the 1980 Michigan PGA Senior Pro-Am with partner Jim Briegel.
As course manager, Simon helped return the Ann Arbor City Tournament as well as the Michigan Open back to the Michigan grounds and initiated the University of Michigan Club Championships.
Simon continued to stay active in golf, continuing to give lessons until 2011.
For more details on services for Tom Simon, please go to www.niefuneralhomes.com.