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COURSE CHANGES

by Daniel Schere

Former Mt. Tabor star named golf pro at Winston Lake

daniel@yesweekly.com | @Daniel_Schere

On most days Julius Reese can be found behind the counter of the Winston Lake Golf Course pro shop greeting customers with a big smile and friendly banter. Reese has worked at the course since 2010 and was just promoted to the position of golf professional by the City of Winston-Salem.

The Parks and Recreation department released a statement August 5 with the announcement.

“We have experienced numerous positive comments from citizens about his customer service and dedication to making Winston Lake Golf Course the best course in North Carolina,” Parks and Recreation Director Tim Grant said in the statement.

Reese graduated from Mount Tabor High School in 1989 where he was a basketball, football, and track and field standout. He went on to play football at North Carolina from 1989 to 1993 under coach Mack Brown. It was there that he formed bonds with his teammates that continue to this day.

“We really try to stay close to one another and support one another,” he said. “It’s just a close niche of people that went to the same school that really are very very close because we’ve run into Clemson grads, and they’re like man, I wish our group was like that. You guys all stay in contact and go on golf retreats with one another and do all this good stuff.”

Reese majored in Sociology while at UNC, which he said helped him later on when he made the transition from sports to business.

“I had a blast. It was real fun. And what I experienced out of that, I was able to come here and incorporate or inject that into corporate America the things that I learned in college just utilizing my resources and my experience.”

Reese’s life path changed course in the Fall of 1991, his junior year, when he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for most of the season and required reconstructive knee surgery. He went on to play his senior year and later played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League for a year and a half, but his athletic ability was not what it once was. Reese also tried out for the Carolina Panthers in 1995 but was cut before the season started.

“It kind of wears on any athlete when you think you can do it but you really can’t, mentally and physically so I just decided to make that decision and stop chasing that dream, and start chasing another one,” Reese said.

Since then he has worked for Golden State Foods and Dell, with a seven-year stint coaching football at Winston- Salem State University sandwiched in between. Reese said he prefers coaching over playing football.

“Whenever you can see your finished product perform exactly what you told them to do and they score a touchdown and light up like a Christmas tree, that’s like me scoring a touchdown,” he said.

When the Dell plant closed in 2010, Reese decided to call up the city and ask about jobs for displaced workers.

“They asked me if I play golf, and over the years with me playing professional football, I got up there and beat the ball around a little bit,” he said.

Reese was the middle child of a low-income family raised by a single mother that lived near Kimberly Park in Winston-Salem. He said his role model growing up was his big brother Ed, a sergeant with the Winston-Salem Police Department and former ECU football player.

Ed Reese laughed at the thought of serving as a role model.

“That makes me feel good,” he said.

“Everything that I did good or bad he learned from or tried to emulate.”

Sgt. Reese is humble when describing his relationship with his younger brother and said Julius outdid him in many areas.

“Even when I go places today I’m not known as Sergeant Reese. I’m known as Julius Reese’s big brother,” he said. “I’ve been bragging on him since he was 12 years old, even though he’s my younger brother.”

Sgt. Reese said Julius was always competitive as a child and loved golf in addition to the other sports. He said they never got into trouble as kids because they were always preoccupied with sports. When Julius received his promotion, they celebrated with a cookout.

“I think it’s going to make him work even harder to make Winston Lake Golf Course one of the more premier golf courses not only in the city but in the eastern part of the United States,” Sgt. Reese said.

Julius Reese said as a child he dreamed of winning a gold medal in track at the Olympics in addition to his dreams of becoming a football star. He said the influence of money on the sports industry has led him to discourage his son from focusing too much on athletics.

“You can’t plan football forever and I tell my son that all the time,” he said. “That’s why I ask, what do you want to do when you grow up?” Reese thinks these days it is more realistic to aspire to become a leader in the business side of sports because he has seen firsthand the difficulties athletes have when they leave the field and try to integrate into the business community.

“Everybody wants to be proactive in their career paths, but when you’re 10 or 11 years old, you’re going to only want to be like what you see on TV,” he said. “These days I have a 10-year old. I don’t want him to be the Kobe Bryant and the Lebron James. I want him to be the Bud Selig.”

Reese said about 40 percent of the guys he played with went into the pros after college. All of them are retired now. Of Reese’s teammates, the one with the longest career may have been Ethan Albright who played for three NFL teams over 15 years before retiring in 2010. He said he stays in touch with Albright and others, encouraging them to come to the course some time.

Reese said he has seen a number of city officials come in to play a round during their free time.

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