One of the world’s longest serving head PGA pros is set to call time on his career after more than half a century at the heart of his club.
Longstanding Oxford Golf Club PGA Professional Tony Rees will hang up his clubs for the final time at the end of this month.
The inimitable 74 year old first joined the club, which boasts a Harry Colt-designed course and close links with the city’s university, as an assistant in 1959 – working as the venue’s head professional for the last 49 years.
Rees will bring the curtain down on his career on January 31, just two weeks shy of his 75th birthday to make more time to spend with his grandchildren – and play golf.
A golf-mad teenager, it was clear from an early age that Rees would go on to a long and successful career in the game.
“I’d always dreamt of a career in golf,” Rees remembered. “That was all I wanted to do when I was at school.
“I started caddying when I was 15 and did a little bit of work in the pro shop at Coventry – then I was invited to move down to Oxford as an assistant.
“I remember walking into the club for the first time and immediately being impressed with how everything was run and just how friendly the members were.”
Rees joined Oxford in 1959 and trained under former PGA chairman Fred Taylor – an apprentice to PGA founder member and six-time Open champion Harry Vardon.
“Fred was a great guy to work with,” he recalled. “At that time he was involved with the university and he was regularly organising rounds of golf with some of the great players of the day.
“He was chairman of The PGA, he had been an assistant to Harry Vardon – to have someone like that mentoring and supporting me was a really good experience.”
“I wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told me I would be there for quite this long, purely because I didn’t realise at the time I was going to enjoy it as much as I have done!
Perhaps Rees’ biggest challenge during his half a century in charge has been adapting to the changing face of golf.
“Obviously there has been a lot of progress in the sport over the last 50 years but you have to move with the times – you have no choice, otherwise you get left behind,” he stated. “For me the biggest change has been the move from woodenheaded clubs to modern clubs.
“You see how far the young pros can hit it nowadays and it’s unbelievable. The development of the clubs has helped to make that possible for them.”
Now Rees is looking forward to life after the game, although he admitted he will find it nigh-on impossible to give up his clubs completely.
“I’ll be playing as much golf as I can,” he smiled. “That, and enjoying spending some time with my grandchildren.”
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