Ray Walkerden passes, aged 90 - PGA of Australia

Ray Walkerden passes, aged 90

One of the unsung heroes of the Australian golf industry, Ray Walkerden, has passed at the age of 90.

Founder of Walkerden Golf in 1977, Walkerden passed suddenly last week having left an indelible mark on Australian golf.

The Managing Director of a successful pharmaceuticals company in Thailand, Walkerden was invited to make a career switch in his early 40s to become partners with colleague Geoff Howarth in a newly-established golf accessories business.

Sensing the opportunity to provide a more complete service to PGA Professionals and golf clubs throughout Australia than was being provided by major distributors, Walkerden drew parallels with what he had experienced in the pharmaceuticals game.

As Howarth covered Newcastle and northern New South Wales, Walkerden went on the road, covering an estimated 1 million kilometres travelling from golf club to golf club.

Such were his travels that Walkerden once received an award from Mercedes Benz acknowledging the 250,000 kilometres he had covered in the space of just four years.

Specialising in software such as headwear, apparel, socks and accessories, Walkerden grew the business to the point where Walkerden Golf became the Australian distributors for Softspikes, Texace and Lyle & Scott, among others.

Walkerden became sole proprietor in 1981 and developed it into very much a family business, wife Brigita taking care of the accounts back in Sydney as she raised their two boys, Brent and Clinton, both of whom continue to build on the Walkerden Golf legacy.

A club golfer at Oatlands Golf Club in Sydney, Walkerden received the Services to Golf Industry Award at the PGA Show dinner in 2002, the highest honour that the PGA can bestow on a non-Member.

“Dad’s golfing highlight was winning the C Grade Club Championship one year but to be recognised by golf professionals for his services to the industry was something he clearly treasured,” said Clinton.

In addition to servicing PGA Professionals in their retail business, Walkerden Golf was a long-time supporter of the PGA’s Trainee Program, further entrenching their positive influence on the Australian golf industry.

PGA of Australia CEO Gavin Kirkman paid tribute to the contribution Walkerden made to PGA Professionals and golfers across Australia.

“Sourcing equipment back in the 1980s and 1990s was not as easy as it is now,” Kirkman said.

“I first met Ray in 1990 and he was passionate about providing a complete service to PGA Professionals far and wide.

“Many thousands of golfers across the country will have purchased equipment distributed by Walkerden Golf without perhaps understanding the effort it took to put various items in their pro shop.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of Ray’s passing but will never forget the contribution that Walkerden Golf has and continues to make to golf in Australia.”

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