Arthur Lees

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Arthur Lees
Personal information
Full name Arthur Lees
Born (1908-02-21)21 February 1908
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Died 26 March 1992(1992-03-26) (aged 84)
Windsor, Berkshire
Nationality  England
Career
Status Professional
Professional wins 8
Best results in major championships
Masters Tournament DNP
U.S. Open DNP
The Open Championship T6: 1947, 1949
PGA Championship DNP

Arthur Lees (21 February 1908 – 26 March 1992) was an English professional golfer who played from the 1930s to 1960s. He was a member of four Great Britain Ryder Cup teams in the late 1940s and 1950s, and won several tournaments in Europe during his career. In addition, he spent nearly 30 years as the head professional of Sunningdale Golf Club, holding the position until he was almost 70 years old.

Early life and career[edit]

Lees first took up golf in his youth, serving as a caddy at Lees Hall Club in Sheffield. When the player he worked for was practising, Lees would hit balls to him with a golf club.[1][2] At the age of 15, the club hired Lees as an assistant pro.[2] He later accepted a job as the professional at Marienbad in Czechoslovakia.[3] In late 1934 he went back to Sheffield and began working at Dore and Totley, replacing Harry Dean.[1][2][4] He also found success in local tournaments in 1935, winning Yorkshire's open and pro golf championships.[2] Lees made his first of 16 appearances in The Open Championship in 1935, finishing in a tie for 41st.[5] At the 1935 Czechoslovak Open, Lees was the first- and second-round leader and placed second behind Mark Seymour.[6] Two years later, he finished joint second at the same event, five strokes in back of Henry Cotton.[7]

In 1938, Lees recorded a third-place finish in the Irish Open, having once held the lead;[2] he also finished second in the Dunlop-Southport Tournament.[8] At the 1938 England–Scotland Professional Match, Lees was part of the winning English team. Reg Whitcombe and Lees won a foursomes match, before Lees lost to John Donaldson in singles play.[9] The following year, he held a share of the lead in the same tournament after three rounds, having posted scores of 69–72–74. Another 72 in the final round gave Lees the victory by two strokes over Whitcombe.[2] Prior to the Second World War, he added a second-place result at the German Open.[10]

Ryder Cup years[edit]

In September 1947, Lees was selected for the Great Britain Ryder Cup team.[11] Lees' first Ryder Cup match was in foursomes, where Cotton was his partner against the team of Porky Oliver and Lew Worsham; the British team lost 10&9. He was also defeated in singles play, by Byron Nelson, in the Americans' 11–1 victory. Also in 1947, Lees won the Dunlop Masters tournament,[10] and finished the Open Championship in a tie for sixth place,[12] having held a share of the lead entering the final round.[13] Two years later, he repeated his joint sixth-place Open Championship finish from 1947,[14] and again played in a Ryder Cup. This time, he won his first match, in foursomes, as he and Dick Burton defeated Lloyd Mangrum and Sam Snead by a 1-up margin. Lees again lost in singles play, 7&6, to Jimmy Demaret.[10] The following year, 1950, saw him lead following the opening round of the Open Championship at Royal Troon;[15] he ended the tournament tied for seventh.[16] For the season, Lees was the second-place finisher in the British golf circuit's order of merit standings.[1]

In 1951, Lees claimed a victory in the Penfold Tournament and gained a place in his third Ryder Cup team. At the 1951 Ryder Cup, he started off in foursomes, teamed with Charlie Ward and the pair posted a 2&1 victory against the American duo of Oliver and Henry Ransom. Lees then won his singles match 2&1 over Oliver.[10] In the 9½–2½ US victory, he took part in both of Great Britain's match wins.[17] Lees won the Penfold Tournament for the second time in 1953;[10] despite this; he was not selected for Britain's 1953 Ryder Cup team. He did, however, return to the British team in 1955, at the age of 47.[18] In team play, Tommy Bolt and Jack Burke, Jr. defeated Lees and Harry Weetman 1-up, but Lees won the final Ryder Cup match he played in, 3&1, against Ed Furgol.[10] The Times later wrote of his Cup performances, "It was an era when the United States made a habit of overpowering any British team, but Lees emerged with his head high."[1]

Later career[edit]

Lees set or tied multiple course records during the 1956 British golf season. In the Dunlop Tournament held at Sunningdale Golf Club, his home club, he matched the existing New Course low score with a 65.[19] During a qualifier in Stoneham for the News of the World Match Play tournament—which doubled as Britain's southern championship—he shot another 65 to break a record, and won the event.[1] Lees also took part in multiple team competitions that year. In the Slazenger Trophy versus a team representing the Commonwealth, he lost his singles match to Frank Buckler in what The Glasgow Herald called "The biggest surprise" of the round; the British team still won, 7–5.[20] At the Amateurs–Professionals Match, Lees halved his foursomes match and won 6&5 in the singles to help the Professionals win the event.[21]

In 1959, Lees won the British PGA Seniors Championship,[10] and in June of that year faced Senior PGA Championship winner Willie Goggin in a match for what was billed as "the world professional senior golf title".[22] To boost attendance, the final 18 holes of the match were scheduled to be played at night. In what the Associated Press called "the first twilight championship match on record," Lees lost to Goggin by a 5&3 score.[22] Lees competed in his last Open Championship in 1963,[5] and continued playing golf into his eighties.[1]

Club pro at Sunningdale[edit]

In 1949, following the death of Percy Boomer, Sunningdale Golf Club hired Lees as its club professional.[23] At the time, Sunningdale was still feeling the effects of the Second World War, as its membership was low. Lees improved the situation by attracting new members; The Times later wrote that he took on the role of "self-appointed recruiting agent."[1] Lees performed his head professional duties for the club even during his playing career. One of his assistants was future professional golfer Sam Torrance, who was 16 when Lees gave him the job.[10] Lees remained the head pro at Sunningdale until 1977.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Lees was married and had one child, a son. By 1977, he was suffering from bladder cancer and had surgery on it, ultimately recovering. He died in 1992 at the age of 84.[1]

Arthur's younger brothers, Harold (1912–1989) and Walter (1916–2012), were also professional golfers.[24] Harold replaced Arthur as professional at Dore and Totley in 1949, having previously been his assistant there. With Walter becoming professional at Shipley in 1948, all three brothers became full professionals for the first time.[25] Harold was less successful than his brothers as a tournament golfer but he did qualify for the 1956 Open Championship, missing the cut by 3 shots.[26]

Professional wins[edit]

this list is incomplete

Results in major championships[edit]

Tournament 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
The Open Championship T41 39 DNP CUT CUT
Tournament 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
The Open Championship NT NT NT NT NT NT T18 T6 T11 T6
Tournament 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
The Open Championship T7 T31 T9 13 DNP CUT DNP 45 DNP DNP
Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963
The Open Championship DNP DNP CUT CUT

Note: Lees only played in The Open Championship.
NT = No tournament
DNP = Did not play
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" = tied
Yellow background for top-10

Team appearances[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Arthur Lees: Obituary". The Times. 27 March 1992. p. 17. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Arthur Lees Wins His First Big Tournament". The Glasgow Herald. 21 July 1939. p. 19. Retrieved 8 May 2016. 
  3. ^ "History". Royal Golf Club Marianske Lazne. Retrieved 24 June 2016. 
  4. ^ "Gift to Professional". Sheffield Independent. 20 September 1934. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ a b "Previous Opens: Muirfield—1935 Results" (click on View Full Leaderboard, then click on Lees' name). The Open Championship. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "Brilliant Win By Mark Seymour". The Glasgow Herald. 26 August 1935. p. 6. Retrieved 8 May 2016. 
  7. ^ "Another Title For Cotton". The Glasgow Herald. 23 August 1937. p. 4. Retrieved 8 May 2016. 
  8. ^ "Padgham's Bid in Vain". The Glasgow Herald. 7 May 1938. p. 3. Retrieved 8 May 2016. 
  9. ^ "Scots Fall Fighting". The Glasgow Herald. 4 July 1938. p. 17. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Feherty, David; Frank, James A. (2004). David Feherty's Totally Subjective History of the Ryder Cup. New York City: Rugged Land. p. 83. ISBN 1-59071-032-0. 
  11. ^ "Britain Picks Out Ryder Cup Team". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press. 20 September 1947. p. 4. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "Previous Opens: Hoylake—1947 Results". The Open Championship. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  13. ^ "Previous Opens: Hoylake—1947 Results; Leaderboard After R3". The Open Championship. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  14. ^ "Previous Opens: Sandwich—1949 Results". The Open Championship. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  15. ^ "Little Man with Big Waist Leads 'em". The Montreal Gazette. Associated Press. 6 July 1950. p. 15. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  16. ^ "Previous Opens: Troon—1950 Results". The Open Championship. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  17. ^ "1951 Pinehurst Country Club, Pinehurst, North Carolina". Ryder Cup. Archived from the original on 31 December 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  18. ^ "Brown, Fallon, And Lees Go into Ryder Cup Team". The Bulletin. 22 September 1955. p. 10. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  19. ^ "Lees in Great Form". Evening Times. 2 May 1956. p. 20. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  20. ^ "Faulkner's Defeat Of Thomson". The Glasgow Herald. 23 July 1956. p. 7. Retrieved 8 May 2016. 
  21. ^ "Impressive Play By Scottish Amateurs". The Glasgow Herald. 6 August 1956. p. 9. Retrieved 8 May 2016. 
  22. ^ a b "Goggin Winner in Senior Golf". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Associated Press. 27 June 1959. p. 10. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  23. ^ "A Lees for Sunningdale". The Scotsman. 10 June 1949. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  24. ^ Crowther, Mike (12 July 2012). "Funeral of veteran Walter Lees is well attended". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 18 June 2016. 
  25. ^ "Gift to Professional". Yorkshire Evening Post. 7 July 1949. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  26. ^ "85th Open – Royal Liverpool 1956". The Open Championship. Retrieved 25 June 2016.