Age doesn't hinder golfer in Par-3 scramble

Saturday, August 1, 2009 | 8:40 p.m. CDT; updated 11:33 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 1, 2009

COLUMBIA — Peggy Hall, 84, walks slowly to the tee box with her daughter and scramble partner Nena Brown, 62. Her back shakes from arthritis as she stoops down to tee up her ball on hole 10 at Perche Creek golf course.

She takes out her five wood for the 80-yard hole. When she swings, there are little signs of the arthritis as the club moves smoothly through the air. It's the result where things go wrong. The ball lands just short of the green and into a murky pond.

Hall has a brief look of frustration, pursing her lips, but she is not upset because her daughter's shot landed on the green.

Hall has been playing golf for more than 60 years but competed in her first Show-Me State Games par-3 golf scramble with her daughter Saturday. Brown said that her mother may not be able to hit the ball as far anymore, but she makes up for it with her putting. The pair from St. Peters finished the 18-hole tournament with a 65 and were the only competitors in the 70 and over age bracket.

Hall said her golf game isn't what it used to be when she was younger. She used to have a seven handicap, but now it has grown to 21.

In 60 years, Hall has won several championships at the Bogey Hills golf course in St. Charles, has qualified for the National Senior Games in golf five times including the next one in 2011 and has five holes-in-one.

Golf has been a part of her entire life, providing an activity to do with her husband and kids, and now, at the age of 84, help her contain the arthritis in her back.

Golf is her life.

Hall began playing golf in 1948 because her husband, who was a store manager for Woolworth, wanted to spend his one afternoon off a week playing golf with his fellow store managers. Instead of staying home making dinner like the other wives, Hall said that she would rather spend time with her husband and saw golf as a golden opportunity to get out of the house.

"I started out of desperation. One day my husband came home and he said, 'I'm going to play golf','" Hall said. "So I said I'd go play. We played eighteen holes that day."

Hall said that after that first round of golf, her hands and feet were covered with blisters and it was incredibly painful. But she was hooked.

The challenge of hitting each shot made her want to play more and more. She spent hours on end reading Ben Hogan's book and swinging her golf clubs in the backyard. After her first baby, she used the stroller's wooden handle and tray as a make-shift golf bag and took the baby to the golf course with her to practice.

"Golf is a challenge. It's a big challenge, and once that bug bites you, there is nothing that can keep you from playing," Hall said. "You're out in the fresh air and sunshine, there is no other feeling."

After having two more children, Hall and her husband began instituting golf into their kids lives. They grew up near a golf course, and Brown said her father would often make clubs for them and provide them with golf balls. Brown said the entire family was taught how to play golf. Golf was a common link for the entire family, and once they moved out, it provided a reason to get back together once a year.

"It has given them (children) the foundation for life, it is something they all enjoy, and taught them sportsmanship," Hall said. "It made us close because we are all interested in the same thing."

After joining a golf course Hall decided to compete. In her first club tournament, Hall said her knees shook. She was petrified, however, she still managed to win the tournament at Blue Hills golf course in Kansas City. She began competing in every tournament she could in the state. Brown said their basement became filled with crystal, marble and brass trophies and soon they lined the family room. One of Brown's least favorite chores was dusting them.

"She's always been competitive. We used to have tall marble and brass trophies, they were monstrosities in the family room," Brown said.

Hall said her most remarkable accomplishment has been her five holes-in-one. Hall said she has managed to repeat the remarkable feat on four of the five par-3's at Bogey Hills golf course, and is determined to get that last par-3.

"You just don't believe you've made a hole-in-one. It doesn't sink in for about three holes, and then you can't hit the broadside of a barn," Hall said.

Presently, Hall has to deal with arthritis and has to take a Tylenol after every round to ease the pain. She said that she also has been forced to use golf carts even though walking is more fun. However, Hall is still looking for more tournaments to compete in and showing no signs of slowing down.

"As you get older the easier tournaments get because there are less people in your age group," Hall said. "I just enjoy competing more now."

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