Captaincy at Huddersfield Golf Club this year is a real family affair.

Not only is Parnell Reilly taking up the senior post at Fixby, following his retirement as professional at Bradley Park, but his grandson Kaylem Billy will be Junior Captain as well.

It’s a prospect which Parnell describes as “extra, extra special”, particularly as Fixby was where he was introduced to golf as a schoolboy caddy over half a century ago.

“The words get used all too often as people say they are ‘honoured and humbled’ to become Captain of a club like Huddersfield, but I genuinely am absolutely thrilled,” said Parnell, who left Bradley Park after 33 years at the helm back in October.

“Fixby was where it all started for me and while I never worked there, I’ve always held the club in the very highest regard.

“Quite simply, if it hadn’t been for Huddersfield Golf Club I wouldn’t have been playing golf, so when I look at all the names on the board of past captains and realise I’ve been recommended and voted to follow them, it’s a massive honour and extra, extra special because Kaylem will be Junior Captain at the same time.”

Shelley College student Kaylem, 15, is the son of Parnell’s daughter Martine and the son of former Huddersfield Town footballer Chris Billy.

“I’ve taught Kaylem since he first started playing golf and it’s fabulous he’ll be Junior Captain in my year,” explained Parnell, who was Captain of the Professional Golfers’ Association in 2007 and 2008 (including the Ryder Cup that year at Valhalla).

“He’s a very sporty lad, as you might expect with his background, and has played football and cricket and other things, but it seems he’s decided that golf is his passion.

“He is 17 handicap at the moment and, while I know I am speaking as his granddad and his tutor, but he will be a low single-figure handicap player next year.

“Kaylem really swings it well, he knows what he has to do and, accepting that he has probably spread himself too thinly with his sporting activity and the academic side of things in the past, I would expect his handicap to tumble now the focus is more so on golf.”

Reducing his own handicap again is something which Parnell is determined to do in 2015 as well.

Parnell Reilly (right) Senior Captain of Fixby GC with grandson Kaylem Billy the Junior club captain.
 

He explained: “Now I’m retired I can give the time I think the position of Captain deserves.

“When they asked me to be PGA Captain I was over the moon and I can’t say I am any less thrilled about becoming Captain at Fixby – it really does mean that much to me and to have the green jacket of office is fantastic.

“Hopefully I will be able to start playing a bit more golf. Over the last five years I’ve played less that at any stage in my life and I’m up to 4.7 handicap, so I’ll be trying to get that down a bit.”

Parnell fondly remembers his earliest days as a caddy at Fixby – he learned a lot carrying the bag for Dr Denton Guest – playing his first ever round of golf at Longley Park (with just one club, a four iron!) and joining the Marsden club, where he shot a net 59.

“Fortunately, as a schoolboy I didn’t get the usual paper round or milk round, but a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go caddying at Huddersfield Golf Club,” he said. “I’d never played golf, nor had anyone else in my family, but I went up and the Caddy Master fixed me up with my first round and I earned my first money in the world of golf!

“It was the 1960s and we earned seven shillings and sixpence (37.5 pence) for a round. That soon went up to 10 shillings (50p) and, if we were lucky, we could do four rounds in a weekend and earn £2, which was a massive amount of money in those days and made us the richest kids at school.”

His first job in the sport was as an assistant pro at Crompton and Royton in Oldham and, after a year, he joined Leeds Golf Club. Three and a half years later, at 21, he became a fully-fledged professional.

He had ‘a very good job’ at Otley Golf Club when he saw the advert for a pro at Bradley Park and he started at the club on November 1, 1981. He was on an initial two-year contract and, little did he know, that 33 years later and having travelled the world, he’d be retiring as pro and returning to his roots at Fixby Hall – from caddy to captain as it were.