COMMERCE CLASSIC

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Looking back on it, Don Reese wishes he had taken five

years off somewhere in his career just so he could get a fresh look at golf.

But the truth is, the former assistant pro at four Long Island clubs never

could have taken a day off, let alone five years.

An even bigger truth is that now he really is getting a fresh look at golf,

as a rookie on the Champions Tour who finally might be realizing that his time

has come.

Reese, 51, is back on Long Island this week for the Commerce Bank

Championship at the Eisenhower Park Red Course and to do some reminiscing about

chasing a life on tour for almost all his adult life.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"I could never make up my mind. You know, I just kept playing and I kept

paying the bills and making a living. So I just stayed with it," he said before

a pro-am at the Red yesterday. "And when the senior tour came up, I was still

playing the Nationwide, so I said, 'Hell, I ain't going to quit now. I'll just

try to continue on playing.' Everything worked out for me."

He was an All-American at Troy (Ala.) State in the 1970s before he heard

about a job with head pro Pete Davis at Middle Bay Country Club in Oceanside.

He gave lessons and helped run the pro shops at Woodmere, Lawrence and Glen

Oaks while he kept working on his game.

"The Met section is the best section in the country," he said. "It has the

advertisement | advertise on newsday

players and courses."

Reese was one of the best players, twice winning the Met PGA and once the

Long Island Open. He said he still benefits from having worked for Joe Moresco

at Woodmere and Tom Joyce at Glen Oaks. "From Joe, I learned enthusiasm, to

always keep looking," he said. "From Tom, I learned to be laid-back."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The three men will play a casual round together Thursday, a day before the

Commerce tournament begins.

Moresco, a former tour player who retired after 41 years as pro at

Woodmere, said Reese always had game. "I think it was his commitment. He just

gave it 100 percent. He never gave half a thought to coming back and being a

club pro," he said. "He was always committed to playing. Who's to say who makes

it out there?"

By "out there," he meant the PGA Tour. Reese earned his card twice and once

tied for fifth at the Hawaiian Open. But he never did make it full-time. That

didn't stop him from playing the minor tours. He earned his Champions Tour card

last November by making birdie on the final hole of the six-round qualifying

tournament.

He has earned $165,794 and finished in the top 10 twice (Turtle Bay in

Hawaii in January and the SBC Championship outside Los Angeles in March).

"It's still all that same old stuff, one shot at a time. It's a stick and

it's a ball," he said. "The hard part is dealing with your own demons inside.

And I'm trying. I'm always trying."

Notes & quotes: In a qualifier yesterday at Bethpage Red, Joe Clark shot

6-under-par 64 and James Mason shot 67 to make the Commerce field.

You also may be interested in: