Rocklin's celebrity golf pro dead at 82

By: Gary Day, Special to the Placer Herald
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Paul Harney, head professional at Rocklin’s Sunset Oaks Country Club in the mid-1960s, died in Massachusetts on Aug. 24, 2011 after a long illness. He was 82. Harney left the Professional Golfers Association Tour in 1963 to settle in Rocklin with his wife, Patricia and four (eventually six) children. The family lived on Clover Valley Road — within walking distance of the club’s entrance. After opening the club in June, Harney became active throughout Northern California as a spokesman for the Sunset International Petroleum’s Sunset City planned development project on Rocklin’s western border. In an effort to draw attention to the area, Harney invited Bing Crosby, Ray Bolger and dozens of other celebrities to play in a Sunset Oaks Pro Am charity benefit on Jan. 21, 1964. The night before the benefit, however, a cold front moved through Rocklin leaving behind muddy fairways spotted with melting snow. On the day of the tourney, more than 5,000 spectators braved the chilly temperatures to watch the celebrity golfers. Ten months later, Harney hosted the Sunset Camellia Open at Sunset Oaks, Rocklin’s first and only PGA tour event. He became wildly popular with Sacramento area golf fans after winning the prestigious Los Angeles Open in 1964 and 1965. Harney often competed with his friend Arnold Palmer and considered his victories over Palmer among his greatest accomplishments. After the Sunset City project encountered financial difficulties, Harney went to work for a golf club in Massachusetts in February 1965. Two years later, he and his family opened the Paul Harney Golf Course on Cape Cod. He was inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame in 2005. If you are interested in learning more about or want to help preserve Rocklin’s history, consider joining the Rocklin Area Historical Society. For more information, call 624-2355.