NSW Golf

Golf’s greatest lauds McKay’s 50-year milestone


 

Illawarra golf professional Robert McKay was humbled late last year when family, friends and golf industry colleagues gathered to celebrate his remarkable milestone of 50 years membership of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of Australia.   
 
Over 120 guests surprised McKay with a dinner at The Grange Golf Club to mark the occasion. 

However, the surprises in store for McKay didn’t stop there.
 
The greatest golfer who ever lived – Jack Nicklaus – also got in on the act recently, filming a congratulatory video message for McKay from his North Palm Beach, Florida home. 
 
“I couldn’t believe what I saw when I played the video. I was choking up that Jack Nicklaus would take the time from his extraordinary busy life to do this,” McKay said.
 
“There he was, sitting in his kitchen talking to me. It’s one of the highlights of my entire career,”
 
McKay remembered some of his early encounters with Nicklaus in Australia as if they were yesterday.
 
“I played in the group ahead of him at Manly Golf Club in the early 1970s, when Nicklaus shot a remarkable 10-under par round of 62. I shot 72 and was pretty pleased with myself because we played in front of huge galleries waiting to see Jack all day long,”
 
“That didn’t last for long though when I learned I was ten behind after the first round,” he laughed.
 
McKay has been a constant and ever-smiling presence on the Illawarra sporting landscape since he began his apprenticeship under his Uncle Hector McKay at Wollongong Golf Club in the early 1960s. Despite being an excellent player in his right, winning 19 pro events around Australia, McKay is dedicated to club pro life. He has inspired thousands of golfers over the length of his career is still teaching to this day at The Grange Golf Club, south of Wollongong.

Paul Prendergast from Golfplus Media has revealed the chain of events that led to McKay’s latest surprise.
 
“Rob’s brother Ken contacted Mark Wilson and me to ask if we would be interested in writing a story on the 50-year milestone. We were thrilled to be able to,

“Rob mentioned to me that he had competed against many of the best in his career in Australian professional events and had teed off in groups near the great Jack Nicklaus on several occasions,

“I’ve had some dealings with Nicklaus’ company and on a whim, reached out to ask if Jack might consider penning a few words of congratulations for Rob. Instead, a personalised video message from the great man popped into my Inbox. I knew this would be something very special for him,” Prendergast said.

 “As Illawarra golfers ourselves, it was a pleasure to be involved, and I’m pleased to say the story will run in the March edition of Golf Australia Magazine,

“He’s been a credit to his profession and the Illawarra region in general and to receive acknowledgement for his contribution to the game from the greatest player in history is a fitting tribute to a remarkable and enduring career,” Prendergast said.

CCA
23 May 2018
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