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Let's raise our hats to the oldest living PGA member!

Let’s raise our hats to the oldest living PGA member!

Let’s raise our hats to the oldest living PGA member!

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

I recently celebrated my 50th anniversary as a member of the South African PGA.  But I have a long way to go to catch Gus Andreone, who will have been a member for 77 years, on May 30th of this year.  If I make it that far, I will be 95, and I was 19 when I turned Pro.  Gus turned Pro when he was 27 years of age.  I look forward to the day when I will be able to go out, like Gus, and shoot my age regularly.  Thanks go to Adam Schupak of GolfWeek for this enlightening story!

Let's raise our hats to the oldest living PGA member!

Gus Andreone, 104, is the oldest PGA member.

Gus Andreone, 104, is the oldest PGA member. ( Tracy Wilcox )

They called Gus Andreone the Night Rider. The colorful nickname was bestowed upon him as a 15-year-old caddie at Pittsburgh’s St. Clair Country Club because of his willingness to loop for a member named Dr. Goldman in the day’s last, feeble light.

For years, the caddie yard was the academy from which underprivileged students graduated into the game. Andreone’s family was so poor that his shoes had holes in the soles. One time, to quicken the pace, he picked up the doctor’s ball with his toes and advanced it some 50 yards. Dinner was calling.

“He had no idea,” Andreone recalled. “He said, ‘I’m hitting that ball pretty long.’ I got a kick out of that.”

The caddie yard gave Andreone a place where he felt welcome and a sense of purpose. It also instilled in him a dream to make a living at the game he loved and not as a coal miner like his father or in a mill like his older brothers. Today, Andreone, who turned 104 on Oct. 11, is the oldest PGA member. He is the living embodiment of the PGA, having seen as much change in the game as anyone since the humble beginnings of the PGA 100 years ago.

So many of his stories begin with the phrase, “In my day.” He learned the game when hickory was still king, with right-handed clubs because lefties were in short supply. It was a time before irrigation, with buckets of sand and water awaiting groups on every tee, and when a 250-yard drive was considered a wallop.

“Nowadays, these fellas can do that with an iron,” he said.

Being around the game was enough incentive to arouse the excitable curiosity of a teenage boy. He picked up his swing by studying the technique and habits of better players. Soon, the course became a magnet.

He went from earning 60 cents a bag to $30 a month tending to the shop, and was still a second assistant on the day he gave his first lesson to Mrs. A.C. Clarke. Afterward, she patted him on the back and thanked him for the lesson. “Right then I knew,” Andreone said. “That was it. Golf would be my life.”

He served a five-year apprenticeship and was elected to PGA membership on May 30, 1939. Even when he joined the military and served under Gen. George S. Patton in the “Ghost Division” that helped liberate Europe in World War II, golf was never far from his mind. When his tour of duty ended in 1946, his captain urged him to re-enlist.

“I told him I had some unfinished business,” Andreone said.

To read the rest of Gus Andreone’s long PGA Career, go here!

Source: Adam Schupak   GolfWeek

Pictures: Tracy Wilcox

Thanks for reading – Let’s raise our hats to the oldest living PGA member!

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