A large contingent of local golfers were present at the funeral of Walter Lees earlier this week.

Walter, who was one of the district’s most respected professionals, passed away at the age of 95.

Winner of the first Bradford Open in 1953, he assumed head professional duties at Shipley Golf Club on April 6, 1948, where he spent his entire career until his retirement in 1985.

He was made an honorary member of the PGA in the same year.

Younger brother of four-time Ryder Cup player Arthur, Walter was born on December 14, 1916, and started out as an assistant to older brother Harold at Dore & Totley Golf Club. He then became an assistant at Abbeydale Golf Club to Arthur, who later became head professional at Sunningdale.

Walter was elected to the PGA in 1937 and, in addition to his head professional role, was also a Ryder Cup referee and observer at the famous 1957 match won by Great Britain and Ireland at Lindrick and at Royal Birkdale in 1965.

He won three Bradford Opens, and other playing achievements included winning the Midland Professional Championship in 1946 at Sandwell Park, the Midland Open in 1947 at Sutton Coldfield and the 1956 Yorkshire Open at Sand Moor and Moortown.

Walter was also runner-up to Johnny Fallon in the Yorkshire Professional Championship in 1956 and twice lifted the Yorkshire Professional Foursomes – in 1955 and 1959 – with JD Mercer (Otley) and in 1959 with Bryon Hutchinson (Hallowes).

Walter died peacefully at a nursing home in Shipley on July 9.