It is with a heavy heart that we announce that Mr. Fred Pelzer passed away on Thursday, September 14. Fred Pelzer spent his life committed to the game of golf and, especially, to the PGA Member. Devoted to the mission of the PGA, to “serve the Member and grow the game,” Mr. Pelzer’s impact on our Section is a part of his legacy we shall never forget. From ensuring our professionals play for record-breaking purses to establishing competitive opportunities for our Assistants and Associates to play for the trophy that still bears his name, Fred was a deeply invested member of our Section. His generosity and care paved the way for rewarding careers in this profession we all loved so very much, and Fred loved with us.
Fred was married to his wife Kay for 61 years and had three children: Craig, 61 (Wilsonville, OR); Kym, 59 (Bainbridge Island, WA); and Debi, 57 (Newberg, OR). Following is Craig Pelzer’s tribute to his dad. On behalf of the PNWPGA, we wish the Pelzer family our gratitude and our heartfelt condolences. The following is written by Fred’s son, Craig, who continues his father’s extraordinary support of our Section. -Frank Talarico, PNWPGA CEO.
Dad started in the golf industry, working for MacGregor Golf in the Spring of 1961. He took over for Jim Shriver, who was the rep and, as you know, went on to become the HP at Manito CC. One of his first accounts was Tacoma G&CC when Charlie Condon was the HP and his assistants were Joe Golia, Roger Williams and Tom Parkhurst. (I was just talking to Tom, and he still remembers that day when he walked in the shop that day 62 years ago.)
He was with MacGregor for a couple of years and left to rep for other various companies until he found out about an opening with Curley Bates from Don Taylor, who was the rep at the time. Curley Bates had a distribution center (DC) in downtown Seattle and all the pros loved it when they could go downtown and pick up products in will call. They were headquartered in the Bay Area but had several DC’s in the US. Dad started working for Curley Bates in 1969 (I believe), selling Titleist balls, and was transferred down to the Los Angeles territory in Feb of 1972. In 1978, the territory was beginning to shrink and commissions went down. Dad was getting tired of the LA traffic and began looking into starting his own business.
In September 1980, we moved back to Portland, where he reached out to Golf Pride to find out what it would take to become a distributor. He was told that the minimum opening order was $10,000, which at that time was a lot. So Dad took out a second mortgage on our home and bought the grips, stored them in our garage and went from course to course with car stock. He later met up with Bruce Bork, the former Head Professional at Pleasant Valley, and asked if he would be interested in partnering to start a company supplying accessories, grips, tees, and more. Dad then found a 1,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Gresham at 2313 11 Mile Rd. in October 1981 and soon stocked it with tees, pencils, spikes, and other accessories. On March 10, 1982, Dad started One Putt Inc. DBA Pelzer Golf Supplies. Later that year, Dad started bringing in components and began manufacturing clubs like the SS-38 and later the Plus + Two, System V and Tour De Force. We sold a lot of these clubs as rentals and starter sets.
It was in March 1984 that I started working for my dad. Black Butte was our biggest company, where Dad and I would deliver 50 sets for their rentals. We also did some side work with Bunny Mason and his protator training aide and assembled clubs for Progress Downs (Red Tail) for their Eagle Reactor sets. These were in the days when you could sell a set of 3 woods and 8 irons and a putter for under $200 and the courses were getting over 60 points. We did over 500 sets a year with Mike Davis at Progress Downs. Those were the good ‘ol days.
In 1984, Dad bought Sellers Rainwear from Cliff Sellers in Portland, where he went from 2 employees to 20. We had Sellers Rainwear until the Spring of 1995. Forresters Rainwear was our biggest competitor, and we simply could not compete against them anymore. At that point, Dad had to find a larger warehouse to fit sewers and machinery, so we moved everything to Clackamas. Dad was tired of renting warehouses, so he bought some land down the street at 12717 SE Carpenter and built a 16,000 sq. ft. warehouse. His intention was to lease the other half to another business and make the remainder the new home for PGS, where we have been since October 1995.
Shortly after we moved everything into the new warehouse, Dad had a heart attack. Two months after that, he had a stroke and a triple bypass. The doctors told Dad it was time to go into early retirement (as you can imagine). He and I worked out a contract, and I bought the company from Dad on February 11, 1996.
Mom and Dad looked at some rentals in Palm Springs, CA and Goodyear, AZ to stay for a month and relax. They decided on Goodyear and moved to Pebble Creek in October 1996, where one of their neighbors was Ron Coleman. They loved being snowbirds, spending October to March in AZ, then back home from March to October. Our families loved to visit in the winter, golfing and enjoying the warm winters. Dad’s back was going out, so he stopped playing golf around mid-2016. As Mom and Dad grew older, they spent more time in Goodyear enjoying the warm winters and no rain and not coming back to Oregon until late May sometimes.
I remember when the PNWPGA Merchandise Show was held in Portland in 2014. Dad hadn’t seen any of his older customers in a long time, and the last time he was at the show was in 1996. So I convinced him to be in our booth and catch up with our customers as they stopped by. The look on his face was priceless after talking to all the pros. Just like the old days. He was so glad that I convinced him to be there. That was Dad’s last show.
In 2017, Dad started the beginning stages of Parkinson’s disease. In 2018, Mom and Dad sold their home in Pebble Creek and moved back to Welches. A year later, they moved into independent living at Cherrywood in Portland. During COVID, Dad’s Parkinson’s worsened. My sisters and I had a long talk with both Mom and Dad and suggested they move into Assisted Living. Dad was against it, but after looking into it thought it was best. Cherrywood didn’t have anything available at the time, so my wife and I suggested they do a tour at Spring Ridge at Charbonneau. It was perfect for the both of them and right down the street from my wife and I. They moved in September 15, 2021.
May 24 of last year, Dad had his second stroke. He was in rehab for several weeks. It was touch and go every day. He had a great team of physical therapists, specialists, and doctors. The best news is that he could move into Memory Care on July 6, which Spring Ridge offered. Unfortunately, this meant that Mom and Dad had different apartments. The good news was that Mom had a short two-minute walk to his facility, where she could see Dad every part of the day.
In the last two months, Dad’s health began to spiral downwards. The dementia was setting in and soon he couldn’t remember my sister, Kym. Those last two months of his life were the toughest. He had no energy, and every day was sluggish. Our family spent as much time together with him as we could. Mom was a trooper. We were all with Dad before he passed.
Dad will always be remembered as a wonderful husband, dad, mentor, friend and one hell of a rep! I will always remember the trips Dad took me on when he was working the Los Angeles territory. I loved watching him network with his customers, solving their problems, and working things out. I learned a lot from the Old Man. He started sponsoring events in 1983, I believe. I remember going with him to Longview CC for the then NW Assistants, where I think there were over 140 players. That was when Dad told me these assistants will later become head professionals and you need to go to bat for them. Like I said, the old man taught me a lot. I know he will be missed by many.
Please raise one for Fred Pelzer when you think of him.