Staying connected: Golf draws Thomas, Gilmore together at tournaments and beyond

Happy Gilmore of Bloomfield, Ind., chips onto the green Tuesday during the Little People's Golf Tournament at Westview Golf Course. Gilmore and Hannibal's Quinn Thomas have been playing with each other since they were 5. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 19, 2019 12:01 am

QUINCY -- The wait seemed unusually long, but the foursome of boys patiently biding their time on the 10th tee at Westview Golf Course didn't seem to mind.

"That's not the first time," Hannibal's Quinn Thomas said. "It happens."

Sometimes, it's a welcome diversion. On Tuesday, during the first round of the 46th annual Pepsi Little People's Golf Championships, it offered the lead group in the boys 12-13 division the chance to grab a mid-round snack, replenish their water bottles and load up on vanilla-scented bug spray to ward off the buffalo gnats.

The 20-minute break also allowed for some mindless chatter on the tee box.

"Tournaments we play, how our round's going, the game itself," said Happy Gilmore, of Bloomfield, Ind. "It's a little bit of everything."

It's mostly about golf but never entirely.

"It's more stories than anything," Thomas said. "It's what we've done in the past when we haven't seen each other."

Those gaps are getting shorter and shorter as players like Thomas and Gilmore grow closer and closer.

Participants in many of the same tournaments since they were 5 years old, the duo has followed each other onto the leaderboard in nearly every tournament they play. Tuesday, Gilmore shot a 73 and Thomas a 74, meaning they will be paired in the final group Wednesday with Chance Rinkol, who opened with a 67, and Nicolas Simon, who posted a 72.

It sets up another day of head-to-head competition, making the tournament atmosphere a little more fun and significantly more intense.

"Whoever wins basically has the pick that night of the dinner," Thomas said.

Since Gilmore edged Thomas by a stroke Tuesday, what was going to be his dinner choice?

"I'm not sure yet," Gilmore said. "It'll probably be a game-time decision."

No matter what it ended up being, they were going to enjoy it together.

The two are virtually inseparable when it comes to tournament play, both on the course and off.

"If you look at it, we finish right by each other, going four and five or nine and 10," Gilmore said. "We're always right by each other."

It happens so often, they get questioned about being brothers.

"We're the same height. We're the same weight," Thomas said. "We're a lot alike."

That extends to their equipment.

"We have the same clubs," Gilmore said. "We have the same bag, just different colors."

They share a passionate love for the game, too.

"A lot of our friends who don't play golf, when we say something about the game, don't know what we're talking about," Gilmore said. "Usually we're at the same events or know about the events, so if we text each other to kind of complain or just to have someone to talk to, we both know what we're talking about."

That includes offering each other advice when necessary.

"Say I've been hitting it bad, I can ask him, 'Have you had this problem before? Can you help me with it?' " Thomas said.

Gilmore reciprocates.

"Say I've played a course, and he hasn't. I'll text him and give him little things to look for and be ready for," Gilmore said.

Those lines of communication are always open.

"Since we have phones, we can talk to each other all the time," Thomas said. "It's a lot of fun."

It doesn't change their competitive nature. Both want to go low. Both want to win.

They simply know how to separate their friendship from their rivalry.

"It's competitive when we hit," Thomas said. "Between the shots, we're just talking the whole time."