Sunningdale’s first professional was 1904 Open Champion, Jack White who held his position from 1901 – 1926. He was an excellent club maker and during his Sunningdale period he developed a large club making business, employing up to six club makers, and with a substantial national and export business. The club possesses quite a number of Jack White golf clubs.
Bobby Jones purchased a driver made by Jack White, when competing at Sunningdale in the Open Championship Qualifying in 1926. He named the driver “Jeannie Deans” and used it in all four of his 1930 “Impregnable Quadrilateral” victories: The Amateur; the US Amateur, The Open and the U.S. Open Championships. In total the driver was used by Bobby Jones to win 11 majors and is now on display in the Augusta National Clubhouse.
Ernest Sales, an assistant at Addington, was an unexpected choice as the second Sunningdale Professional, lacking the fame and tournament record of his predecessor, the 1904 Open Champion, Jack White. However, he was an outstanding club-maker in a period when steel was usurping wood as the preferred golf shaft material, and producing a major replacement market for the club maker.
Sales developed a well-known and widely used wooden headed mashie, quite similar in loft, purpose and capability to the modern iron replacing rescue clubs. He was assisted by his two sons. Ernest, who ran the shop and Harry, who taught and played golf with the members.
Bingham was an unexpected selection as the third Sunningdale Professional. He was a golfer with a great reputation, having won a number of regional championship, including the Midland Open in successive years. He was a tall, good looking and charming Irishman with the ability to win long driving contests.
His knowledge of golf and golfers resulted in him appointing as assistant a former Sunningdale Caddy, Wally Smithers, who had finished twelfth in the 1936 Open Championship, having been runner up to Henry Cotton in the qualifying event.
Percy Boomer was born in Jersey where his schoolmaster father was a founder of the Royal Jersey course. Harry Vardon was a pupil at that school.
Percy and his brother Aubrey were outstanding golfers. Percy won the Dutch, Belgian and French Open Championships in the 20’s and 30’s and was attached as the professional at St Cloud in Paris at the outbreak of The Second World War.
He escaped from France and later from Jersey before the German occupation, and was recruited as a stand-in by Sunningdale professional Michael Bingham, who was seeking a long leave of absence. Boomer was aged 60 and was an outstanding teacher, who on arrival at Sunningdale had written a classic book, “On Learning Golf”. When Bingham did not return, Percy was appointed Club Professional, a post he retained until his death.
Arthur Lees, born in 1908, was an outstanding golfer who had won many professional tournaments. His last major win was the Teacher’s Seniors Championship in 159. He was a member of four Ryder Cups teams in the 40’s and 50’s and on two occasions finished sixth in the Open Championship.
He was born in and spent his early golfing year in Yorkshire and, for a period in the 1930’s he was the professional at The Marienbad Golf Club in Czechoslovakia, before being appointed at the Professional at the Sheffield Club, Dore and Totley.
Arthur had an international reputation as a shrewd gambler. He attracted several outstanding assistant professionals to the Club, including Sam Torrance, a future Ryder Cup Captain.
Clive was an outstanding amateur golfer and Walker Cup team member, having completed studies as an architect where he had become an excellent draughtsman. He turned professional in 1965 and was appointed the Club tournament professional in 1966.
He tied third in the Open in 1967 and won a number of tournaments, as well as participating in the 1973 Ryder Cup.
After his appointment as Club Professional in 1975 he developed secondary interest in both TV golf commentary and in golf course design, being associated with Peter Alliss in both activities. These endeavours eventually became full time careers, and Clive resigned from his club appointment in 1984.
Keith Maxwell was appointed Head Professional in 1984 and was the Club’s longest serving Professional, having managed the pro shop for 32 years. A senior assistant to Clive Clarke from 1977, he was appointed when Clive became more actively involved in Television Broadcasting and Golf Course Design.
Providing the Club with a commitment to the role of Club Professional, Keith had a particular skill when hiring outstanding assistant professionals. They could play and teach to a high standard, and generally progress to Head Professional positions at leading UK and International Golf Clubs, therefore enhancing the Clubs reputation for being a wonderful stepping stone in a golfing career.
Keith also maintained excellent relations with the many Tour Professionals who have enjoyed visiting Sunningdale over the years.
In 2017 the club took over the management of the professional shop and Keith was appointed an Honorary Member.