Jim Ferree: Legendary golfer aging like fine wine

JIM-KAREN-FERREEGolf still a big part of Jim Ferree’s life

Like a fine wine, Jim Ferree of Hilton Head clearly has improved with age.

Ferree, 83, a former professional who played on the PGA Tour and the Senior PGA Tour, had most of his success in his 60s — the age when most pro tour golfers are hanging up their competitive golf shoes.

Ferree, who was born in Pinebluff, North Carolina, and grew up in Winston-Salem, learned the game of golf from his father, Purvis, the longtime pro at Winston-Salem's Old Town Golf Club. Ferree attended the University of North Carolina and was a member of the golf team.

Ferree had one PGA Tour win during his regular career years in 1958, winning the Vancouver, Canada, Open.

“The winners share was $6,400 out of a total purse of $40, 000,” he said. “It was enough to buy a really nice car.’’

Ferree, who was known for his stylish knickers long before they were made popular by late PGA star Payne Stewart, won a total of $110,000 on the regular PGA tour, which now offers weekly multi-million dollar purses.

Ferree was on the regular tour between 1955 and 1966 and eventually spent most of his 30s and 40s as the director of golf at the Long Cove Club on Hilton Head.

Ferree joined the Senior PGA Tour in 1981, and his bank account started to swell.

Ironically, he said, his first Senior Tour victory was in Vancouver, and he eventually won two traditional senior tournaments.

But here is where the aging fine wine comes into play.

He played on the Super Senior Tour at Senior Tour events for 50-year-olds. The Super Senior Tour features players ages 60 or over.

“It’s tough to beat a guy at 50 when you are in your 60s,” he said defending his decision to play on the Super Seniors segment.

Ferree said he won 23 events on the Super Senior Tour and earned a total of $1.5 million on both tours, which is now called the Champions Tour.

He was the Senior PGA Tour's comeback player of the year in 1993.

The retired pro said his success in his later career years is all about weight.

“I was 155 pounds in my 20s and weigh 159 pounds today,” he said. “Many older pros gain weight and slow down. My health stayed good.”

Golf is still a main staple in Ferree’s life.

His wife, Karen, is a former PGA club professional and successful amateur golfer, whom he taught when she was 16.

He still plays at least three times a week despite some knee issues and is involved with many golf-related activities.

He also will be instructing junior golfers at the First Tee program on Hilton Head on how to play golf.

Ferree’s many accomplishments will not be forgotten in national and regional golf history.

He was elected into the Carolinas PGA Hall of Fame, University of North Carolina’s Hall of Fame and the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame and was recently inducted in the inaugural Lowcountry Golf Hall of Fame.