Danielle Elizabeth Downey
Golf Loses a Coach and an Architect
By Torleif Sorenson on 1/31/14
Golf has lost two important and notable people this week.

Danielle Elizabeth Downey (1980-2014)

On Thursday night, Auburn University Director of Golf Operations Danielle Downey, who played on the LPGA Tour from 2006 to 2009, was killed in a single-car crash.

According to reporter Carol Robinson, Downey's vehicle left Lee Road 57 and overturned several times, ejecting her. She was pronounced dead shortly before 11:00 p.m. CST at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.

Originally from Rochester, New York, Downey played collegiate golf at Auburn from 1999-2003 and earned All-America honors in 2000, 2002, and 2003. During that time, she won the New York State Women's Amateur Championship three consecutive times (1999-2001). Downey later caddied for LPGA players Laura Diaz and Sarah Kemp.

She returned to Auburn University to complete her B.A. in health promotion in 2013 and served as a student assistant. During the 2012-13 season, Downey stepped in to coach the team through the NCAA Regionals while AU women's golf coach Kim Evans was battling ovarian cancer.

Coach Evans, who has bravely endured so much in her own life over the last two years, was quoted for the university's athletics web site:
"I'm absolutely devastated. Danielle meant so much to me, the girls, and this program. Not only did she give much of her life to Auburn as a student-athlete and as a mentor to these young women, but she was so instrumental to this team during some tough times over the past year. Danielle was like a daughter to me."
The university plans to announce a memorial service in the coming days. We at oobgolf offer our sincere sympathy and prayers to Downey's parents, family, friends, and her students and fellow staff at Auburn University.

E. Lawrence Packard (1912-2014)

On Tuesday, notable golf course architect Larry Packard passed away, age 101. Mr. Packard might be best known for his designs of the Island and Copperhead courses at Innisbrook Golf & Spa Resort outside Tampa, Florida, and at Turnberry CC and Lake Barrington Shores, both outside Chicago.

Born before the start of World War I (November 15, 1912 in LaGrange, Illinois), Packard graduated from the University of Massachusetts and got his start in architecture working for Robert Bruce Harris, a co-founder of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Packard was also called upon to help design what is now Chicago O'Hare International Airport, following wartime work at Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts. Today, Packard's son Roger is an established golf architect on his own merits.

Noted architect Bob Cupp, an ASGCA past president who knew Packard well, offered an especially kind remembrance of the man for the ASGCA web site:
"Since the game of golf is so ancient, we don't look upon ourselves as 'pioneers,' but in Larry Packard's case, it is appropriate. Larry was at the forefront of the post World War II golf explosion, and his courses still stand. He should wear the 'pioneer' title proudly."
Golf is, indeed, fortunate to have had Larry Packard for so many decades. We're also fortunate to have so many monuments to his work available for public play — and we offer our sympathy and prayers to his children, Pamela Sharkey and the aforementioned Roger Packard.

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Image via Auburn University

[ comments ]
DougE says:
So sorry to hear about Danielle. Terrible tragedy, not only in losing her so young, but in the suddenness of the loss as well. My heart goes out to her family.

Though familiar with the name E. Lawrence Packard, I don't think I have ever played one of his designs. At 101 I can only hope he lived a wonderful life and passed easily with family and friends close to his side. What more could any one of us ask? Though, I'm sure, some of his designs will be remembered for years to come, his family will remember and appreciate him for so much more.

My condolences go out to both.
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