The South Florida golf community lost another key member Sunday when longtime Hobe Sound Golf Club head professional Tom Yeager died in a Gainesville hospital.
Yeager, who had been undergoing cancer treatments, was 54. The Jupiter resident had been dealing with health issues since 2018.
Yeager had been the PGA Head Professional at Hobe Sound Golf Club since 2003.
“When you think of Hobe Sound Golf Club, you think of Tom,” said Meredith Schuler, assistant executive director for the South Florida PGA who twice did 100-hole daily marathons with Yeager to raise charity money for the section.
“He was so encouraging, inspiring and optimistic. It’s a big loss for the South Florida golf community. He was incredibly well respected by his peers and the entire golf community. “
Yeager’s death comes about two months after famed journalist and fellow Jupiter resident Tim Rosaforte passed away at 66 from Alzheimer’s Disease.
Not only had Yeager served as Hobe Sound’s head pro for two decades, but it was a family affair. His wife, Candy, is the club’s merchandiser; son Jason works in the pro shop / cart barn; and daughter Tori works in the food and beverage department.
When word came Sunday that Yeager had died, the pro shop and cart barn shut down for the day, though members were still allowed to play.
“As our members and staff know, Tom had been battling a prolonged illness for years,” John Galland, the club’s general manager, said in an e-mail to members. “We will all miss him more than words can express. Tom was beloved by all. “
Before his illness, Yeager was one of the most fit athletes around. A former hockey player who was born in Rochester, NY, Yeager constantly competed in Ironman triathlons and was a passionate fan of the Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox.
Even when he was undergoing cancer treatments, Yeager maintained a heavy work schedule. The club had recently staged its two major member tournaments with Yeager leading the way. You would have had no idea he was going through such health issues.
“Tom was an ‘old-school’ golf professional,” said Michele Murphy, the club’s marketing and membership director. “Tradition meant a lot to him, which is very special nowadays. When everyone is rushing about, Tom wanted you to come to the club to relax and enjoy golf the way the game was meant to be.
“Tom Yeager made Hobe Sound Golf Club what it is… a very special place. To lose him at age 54 is hard to comprehend. Our hearts are heavy with the loss of him. “
Yeager twice won the Bill Strausbaugh Award for the South Florida PGA Southeast Chapter (2007 and 2008). The award is designed to recognize PGA Professionals who have distinguished themselves by mentoring fellow PGA Professionals. Yeager continued to mentor others even while he was dealing with health issues.
“So many people looked up to Tom,” Schuler said. “He lived his life as if nothing was wrong. He was always there with a happy face, even though he was probably suffering internally. “
Yeager did far more than give lessons and run the golf operation at Hobe Sound Golf Club. He helped introduce a generation to the game.
Under his leadership, the club hosted prestigious events such as US Open and US Amateur qualifying, as well as South Florida PGA and Southeast Chapter events.
Schuler said she called Yeager last week to catch up and talk about the club possibly hosting a South Florida Junior Tour event. They spoke about doing another 100-hole marathon together, but Yeager said he would need more time to get healthy.
“He was just a fun guy to be around,” Schuler said. “And he had a big heart.”
A memorial service will be held April 2 at 10 am, at Christ Fellowship Church in Stuart.