January 5, 2001
Pete Oakley had quite a year.
With his partner Chris Adkins and several local investors, the 51-year-old golf professional completed and opened The Rookery, the new public golf course near Milton. He successfully competed in several national and regional tournaments.
To top it off, last month the Philadelphia Section of the PGA of America recognized Oakley as their Player of the Year for 2000.
Oakley earned the honor. Section club professionals and assistant pros compete in local, regional, and national tournaments, and gain points toward the award based on their performance. The pro with the most points wins.
“I was frankly surprised to win this year,” Oakley said. “I hadn’t played in as many Sectional events as in prior years. Apparently the points I earned in the national events were what put me on top.”
Oakley also pointed out that as a senior golfer, his competition is at a different level than what faced other Philadelphia section professionals. “In some of the senior level events, I might be playing against 20 other golfers. In the regular events, there could be over 100 golfers. Next year, the Section will place more emphasis on the events that all the pros can play. That should make it fairer for the younger club pros and assistant pros.”
“Just the same, I’m very pleased to receive this award. The Philadelphia PGA Section has a great reputation among my peers nationally. They know some very good players compete in the Section events on a regular basis,” Oakley said.
It’s not as if Oakley is a late bloomer. He also won the Section’s Player of the Year award in 1980 and 1984. In addition, Oakley showed that his skills remained polished when he won the same title in 1999, his first full year as a senior.
The 2000 campaign included several highlights.
In April, Oakley made the cut at the PGA Senior Championships at West Palm Beach, Florida. Heavy rains stopped the tournament at 54 holes, and Oakley finished in 29th place.
On June 15, at Moselem Springs, Pennsylvania, Oakley won the qualifying event for the U.S. Senior Open at nearby Saucon Valley, earning more points toward the Section title.
Just before his first practice round for the U.S. Senior Open in late June, however, Oakley received word that his mother passed away at her home in Florida. After conferring with his family, Oakley decided to keep playing, and finished six-over for the championship, in 41st place.
In mid-July, Oakley tied for first place in the Philadelphia Open’s one-day 36-hole tournament. He returned the next day for an 18-hole playoff, losing to Brian Kelly of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
Oakley returned to the Cape Region to open The Rookery, and then won the Delaware Open at Kings Creek Country Club on August 1. He shot 7-under in the 54-hole event, winning by 5 shots.
Oakley next competed in the local and regional qualifying tournaments for the national PGA Club Professional Championship. He placed second in the local 36-hole event, and made the cut in the regional tournament at Osprey Point on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, but did not finish high enough to make it to the nationals.
In mid-October, Oakley returned to national competition at the PGA Senior Club Pro Championship, and finished in second place. Oakley’s 3-under total in the 72-hole tournament earned even more points toward the Section honors.
Oakley tried again to “make it to the dance floor” shortly after Thanksgiving, by playing in the PGA Senior Tour Qualifying School at Eagle Pines Golf Course, at Disney World. While he made the cut, Oakley finished in 31st place, out of the running for playing privileges on the big-time circuit.
It’s a bit hard to imagine that Oakley will top this year’s performances. On the other hand, he’s already making plans for more national events, including the upcoming PGA Senior Championship at Paramus, New Jersey in late May.
Care to make a small wager?