In their 80s, yet they're not slowing down a bit
I talked to a couple golfers this week who recently had notable achievements.
Pat Popow is 84. She just recorded her second career hole-in-one. As we chatted, it came to light I don't have one.
She's so sweet. She showed me sympathy.
"Don't worry, Tim," she said, "I'm sure one day you'll hit a 9-iron on a par 3 and it'll drop right in the hole."
How nice is that?
Then there was Ed Moran. He's 80 and shot under his age — by 11 strokes! That's like sticking your finger in the phone change slot looking for a quarter and pulling out a twenty.
Moreover, I thought I was talking to Rodney Dangerfield, not "Steady Eddie," as he's called at Lake Shastina Golf Resort in northern California.
"My doctor told me I should take mud baths," he said, without prompting.
"Mud baths?" I bit.
"Yeah, he told me to get used to the dirt."
I'll call this my "Ode to Octos" column or, "Eighty is Greaty."
POPOW ACED THE seventh hole at Stewart Meadows Golf Course May 12. It measured 131 yards to the front pin placement, but she didn't want to say what club she used. We'll say 5-wood (wink, wink).
I've had a lot of women balk at revealing their age for publication. This is the first time one wrestled with me over her club selection.
"I striped it right down the middle and thought it went past the pin," she said. "I didn't actually see it go in. The other girls said, 'Pat, I think it went in the hole.' Anyway, it did and I screamed. It's very unexpected when that happens."
I can only take her word for it.
Her playing partners were Jody Larson, Sharon Dillingham and Linda Forette.
Popow has a regular group she plays with — this wasn't it in its entirety — and they're all 80-something and have been playing for years, starting at Rogue Valley Country Club.
"That's what I'm so proud of," said Popow. "We're still playing and we're still striping the ball. I think it's wonderful."
Popow took up golf when a friend of hers suggested it 40 years ago. Her late husband was addicted to the game, she said, so she took group lessons from former RVCC pro Ron Caperna. She quit the club when her husband had to give the game up, and she now plays nine holes twice a week at Stewart Meadows and Quail Point.
Her other hole-in-one was a couple of decades ago on No. 11 at RVCC.
Both aces were good shots.
"I didn't flub a shot and have it go dink, dink, dink and in the hole," she said.
Popow felt a little remorse, she said, because she's only played with the Lady Niners for several years, and they've had a hole-in-one pot for much longer. There had only been one other winner.
"All these women have been contributing all these years, then I come along and win it," she said.
Her take: $119.
Popow's handicap is 32, and she usually shoots from 48 to 52.
MORAN PRETTY MUCH shoots his age or better most of the time. He has to just to play to his 4 handicap. But in the 60s?
At age 77, he shot two 69s and a 68. Not until a couple weeks ago did he get back there with the 69.
"It's kind of a thrill," he said.
Moran took up the game as a caddie in Massachusetts during the Great Depression at age 8. The cost of a round was 85 cents, and caddies got to play on Mondays.
"That's how I learned," he said. "I wasn't that good. Even as a teenager, I'd shoot around the 80s. I'm actually playing better than I ever have."
Family life and work — four kids and a sign business — kept him from playing much through adulthood. Now he gets out a few times a week, playing from the men's tees that measure 6,536 yards.
He's 6-foot and weighs 210, and driver is his best club.
"I'm so accurate with it," he said. "I don't hit it very long, about 225 yards, but it's always in the fairway."
His stellar round would have been better had he not lipped out a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th.
Moran asked about courses in the Rogue Valley, then said he has to get up and play them.
"Before I hit the dirt," he said.
Here's hoping he's shooting his age for years to come.
Have a golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail email@example.com