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Monday, June 2, 2008

Never too old to golf

By Charlotte Huntley/Contributor

The grass was an emerald green, the water reflected the blue sky and the morning was sunny, with a hint of a breeze.

Terry Mayer/The Week
Orville Klima, 96, from Whitewater, of the Walworth County Senior Golf League, started playing when he was 12 years old and continues every week.
Birds chirped from the tops of the trees and the only other sound was the purr of a golf cart and an occasional burst of laughter from across the way.

It's Monday morning. That means that somewhere in Walworth County, people were golfing.

The Walworth County Senior Golf League was out in full force on the Evergreen Golf Course in Elkhorn.

On this particular morning, inside the clubhouse, Lorraine Seiker and Mary Reynolds, both from Burlington, are the starters. Members take turns being starters; they greet golfers, they help people sign up for golf days, as well as showing the golfers when and where the play begins, and they collect for the "chip in" pot for the best "play of the day," which will start in June.

Terry Mayer/The Week
L-R: Jack Rehberg, 83, Orville Klima, 96 and Bert Blakesley, 87, of the Walworth County Senior Golf League.
Each week the members golf on a predetermined golf course throughout the county and usually play nine holes. The schedule starts in April and runs until the end of September. This year, the courses include Lauderdale Lakes Country Club, Aurora at George Williams Campus, Nippersink in Genoa City, Hawk's View in Lake Geneva, Evergreen in Elkhorn, Country Club Estates in Fontana, Prairie Woods on Highway A, Lake Beulah, Eagle Springs in Eagle and Abbey Springs in Fontana. The players prefer some courses over others, depending on how well the course is kept. "Each course is different," Hoffman said.

Some of the golfers have been with the league for many years, such as Jim Weber, who has been a member for 15 years, and Seiker, who is in her fifth year; others have just recently joined, like Hoffman. They all agree that it is a great way to get out in the nice weather, continue friendships and play different courses.

The oldest member is 96-year-old Orville Klima from Whitewater. He started playing when he was 12 years old and continues every week. "And he's still playing a good game," said his partner, Jack Rehberg, 83, from Lake Geneva.

Terry Mayer/The Week
Ken Ellsworth, 83, of the Walworth County Senior Golf league is called “the youngster.”
When Klima was 94, he hit a 49. "That doesn't happen very often," he said. From Elkhorn, Bert Blakesley, 87, and Ken Ellsworth, "the youngster," at 83, complete the foursome.

We caught up with them on the sixth hole, and they consistently progressed toward the green. They have been a foursome for eight years, so they knew each other quite well. At one point, Klima faced a tree that was between his ball and the cup. He endured good-natured ribbing from his partners. "Let's see you maneuver this one," challenged one of his partners.

"OK wise guy; I'll fool ya, I'll take a shot," he said. The experienced golfer that he was, he played it from behind the tree at such an angle that with the next shot, he brought it on to the green. "I enjoy playing, regardless of the score," Lima said.

"It's just good to get out," Rehberg said. "I look forward to it all winter."

Another foursome included Bonnie Leveraus from Elkhorn, Irene Hammett from Sharon and Bobbi Oxford and Weber, from Lake Geneva.

They played fast and efficiently and encouraged each other on their shots. Oxford played with a set of clubs handmade by Russ Gale. "I just love them!" she said. Afterward, they usually go out to breakfast or some kind of refreshment. "We women, when we get to playing, and things aren't going too good, then we start discussing where we're going to eat," said Leveraus.

For the 2008 year, Gene Hoffman is president and Larry Voss is vice president, both from Elkhorn, and Ross Harmon, from East Troy, is secretary-treasurer. The board of directors includes the office-holders, plus Oxford, who keeps the handicaps, and Russ Gale from East Troy. Yearly dues are $10 and guests are $1 per day, plus greens fees.

Right now, the league has over 60 members, but they are always looking for new people. On Monday, June 2, they will be at the Lauderdale Lakes Country Club.

To sign up for membership, or for more information, contact Gene Hoffman at 749-8237.

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