PGA Professional Spotlight: Don DeAngelis, a Golf Paragon
Don DeAngelis, the son of golf pro Pete DeAngelis, began golfing in 1961 at 11 years old under the tutelage of his father. Don’s father was the head professional at Plymouth Country Club, and it was there that young Don spent countless hours not only sharpening his game but also working at the club.
In 1969, Don won the Philadelphia Jr. Championship before playing for the University of Pennsylvania. He played in the US Amateur in 1972 and ’73, won the 1975 Patterson Cup, played in the Scotland World Invitational Pro-am, and won the 1985 Pennsylvania Open, and played in the 1978 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club.
During his career, Don has won more than thirty Philadelphia PGA tournaments. Even more impressively, he has won a professional tournament in every decade he’s played: 1960, ‘70, ‘80, ‘90, 2000, ‘10 and ‘20.
One of Don’s favorite competitors was PGA professional Jay Sigel. Jay is one of the greatest golfers to come from Philadelphia. He played in many major championships, including the 1980 Masters. The two were always at the top of tournament leaderboards, jockeying for first place. Jay commented about Don:
“Don is an exceptional competitor, extremely humble, and a gentleman through and through. His consistency is remarkable. Don hits the ball so straight it’s almost boring to watch.”
Don has consistently placed above the top three professionals for Senior Player of the Year in the Philadelphia PGA. But it is this last bullet of his resume that best exemplifies his ability and legacy; Don has been named among the top 50 teaching professionals in the country by Philadelphia Magazine.
PGA Pro and lifelong friend, Eric Stevenson, had this to say about Don:
“Congratulations Don on your accomplishment of winning at least one PGA Section event in 6 consecutive decades! Thankfully, our friendship has endured over 7. Growing up together we were fortunate to compete with such a great group of talented players, to have formed the friendships we did, and to have role models that we looked up to and admired. Your father Pete, a PGA Professional, was certainly in the last category. He was the consummate professional and definitely a role model for me. The great memories that you and I have are too numerous to share. Partnering in amateur competitions, caddying for you at the ‘78 US Open at Cherry Hills, you winning the Pennsylvania Open, and even the cheesesteaks at Dalessandros! The Philadelphia area is fortunate to have such a long history of wonderful players, and you have certainly earned your place among them!”
Don spent many years as the vice president and tournament chairman of the Philadelphia PGA Section. During that time, he worked hard to improve the game he loved by conducting programs and activities for the section members, both on the professional and amateur levels. He has given lessons to countless youth organizations to help pass along his knowledge and passion for the game. As an instructor, Don develops game plans, works on all areas of the game, talks strategy and effective practice routines, and improves focus, among other things. He doesn’t just teach—he has fully dedicated himself to helping golfers make lasting improvements.
Don’s list of proteges includes his step sons Tom & Jason Rowinski and grandsons Jack & Oliver Rowinski. It’s no surprise that his family members have developed the same love for the game that Don always had, and this is a testament to Don’s teaching ability and mentorship skills. Don is a true role model, just like his father Pete.
Along with instructing, Don continues to compete in PGA tournaments and remain a staple at the top of the Philadelphia section leaderboards. He has always been cut from a different cloth, and some would say they don’t make that fabric anymore. Don is a true professional, and fierce competitor in every way.
For Don, it’s all about the love of the game. Golf is a sport of physical and mental ability, and Don beautifully illustrates that fact.
Playing and winning is admirable. But what is truly noble is continued professional excellence, and that is what Don represents—both as a player and an instructor. Making a great game better? Now that’s the real legacy.