“I had been quite busy at Washington (Ill.), and then moved to Florida at the wrong time,” said first-year Valley Oaks Golf Professional Tom Keefe.

“While there I found the economy sliding and no discretionary money so I came back to the Midwest looking for a job,” he said.

“This position (Valley Oaks pro) came open so I applied for it and was accepted. This is a beautiful course and I invite everyone to come out and play. At the moment I’m putting names with faces.”

Keefe, a Class A PGA golf pro with about 30 years of golf management and teaching experience, plans on holding a limited number of events this year.

There will be special events the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Keefe is also looking forward to host group outings and benefit tournaments.

“And,” he said, “We will have a Lady’s Day Special each Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m.”

Keefe said, “I was born and raised in Bloomington (Ill.) and attended Arizona State and Illinois State Universities for three years. I made the fall freshman golf team at Arizona State.

“I wanted to be closer (to home) so I returned to Illinois State following the first semester and made the Cardinals’ freshman team that spring,” he said.

Keefe dropped out of school and enlisted in the Air Force, spending 2 1/2 years in Japan. While in the Air Force he earned 12 credit hours from the University of Maryland.

“They had a golf course on my base in Japan,” he said. “There were 360 directional antennas in the area and the golf course was in the middle. There is nothing like radio antennas and guide wires all over the course making it quite a challenge. But it was a lot of fun.”

While in the service he met his wife, Becky, at her cousin’s wedding in Tennessee.

“I met her at her cousin’s husband while we were taking basic training together,” he said. “There was no long distance romance because Becky came to Japan. We were married in Japan and had to be married three times.”

“Our first ceremony was in a Japanese city hall in Fukouka,” Keefe said. “The second was at the American consulate, and the third was in a church on the base.”

Prior to his year in Florida, Keefe was head professional at Quail Meadows Golf Course in Washington, Ill., for 13 years. Quail Meadows is a popular 18-hole public course owned by the Fon du Lac Park District in East Peoria, Ill. He also had an 11-year stint as head pro at Mauh Nah Tee See Country Club in Rockford, Ill.

While in Florida he played a satellite tour and in 2005 he won the Senior Ironwood Open – Tennessee Section. He was a volunteer instructor for the PGA Tour – Ginn sur Mer Classic; Volunteer Rules and Starter for the South Florida Junior Tour; and Volunteer Rules Official at the Doral and Honda PGA tour events.