Kentucky Golf Hall of Famer Dave Bunnell dies

Kentucky Golf Hall of Famer Dave Bunnell
Kentucky Golf Hall of Famer Dave Bunnell

Dave Bunnell, a tireless booster and teacher of junior golf in Lexington, and an enthusiastic promoter of the sport, died Thursday after a battle with cancer.

Mr. Bunnell was 65.

Mr. Bunnell was inducted into the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame last fall for his contributions to the game.

Bill Lear, a longtime friend, said Mr. Bunnell was hoping to live long enough to watch next week's Masters.

"It's sad that he didn't," Lear said. "Dave knew he wasn't going to win the fight with cancer, but he faced it with a kind of courage that was just remarkable and very uncommon."

Mr. Bunnell was an accomplished amateur golfer. He is the only player to win what Lear called the "Lexington trifecta" — the Junior City, the Men's City and the Senior Men's City championships.

"He won a lot of tournaments," Lear said. "But the real mark he left, and the primary reason for his induction into the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame, was how much he meant to junior golf."

Mr. Bunnell was co-founder of the Larry Gilbert Foundation (renamed the Larry Gilbert-Dave Bunnell Foundation a few months ago), and he helped establish the First Tee Chapter of Lexington. Both organizations' primary purpose is to get young people involved in golf.

"He was the central figure in junior golf in Lexington for at least the last 20 years," Lear said. "He was a wonderful coach, but he taught the kids more about life than he did about the game of golf."

As a city councilman in the 1980s, Mr. Bunnell was instrumental in getting Kearney Hill Links built, and bringing national tournaments such as the USGA's Amateur Public Links championships for men and women to Kearney.

"Dave was on the forefront of promoting the game, not only for juniors, but on every level," said Mike Fields, director of golf for Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.

Mr. Bunnell was also a former teacher and coach at Tates Creek, and athletic director at Lexington Catholic.

Mr. Bunnell is survived by his wife, Patsy, sons Todd and Bo, and daughter Kate.

Visitation is Friday from 4-8 p.m. at Kerr Brothers on Harrodsburg Road. The funeral service is Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Pax Christi Catholic Church.

Charitable contributions may be made to the Larry Gilbert/Dave Bunnell Foundation, Hospice of the Bluegrass or Lexington Catholic High School.