Golf of Ages

At age 83, Harold Lankford is the envy of every golfer in the world. Why? Because he can shoot his age.
BY MARIE BAKKEN Reporter Staff Writer

Can you imagine accomplishing a feat on the golf course that not even Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Vijay Singh can

pull off?

And for Milano resident Harold Lankford, it's no big deal because he's done it more than once.

The avid golfer shot an 83 on March 20 at the Rockdale Country Club, which just happened to be his 83rd birthday.

Lankford is an "age shooter" and in the world of golf means he has the ability to post a score that matches or beats his age.

It's a highly coveted category to be included in—for golfers of all ages.

"They made too much out of it," the humble Lankford said of his birthday card. It wasn't the first time he had shot in the 80s. "I've shot in the mid-70s five or six times too."

For someone who is good at the game, Lankford really didn't care for it much to begin with, he was more of a fisherman.

"Golf...I thought it was stupid," he said. "I was good at sports. I didn't excel at them but I was athletic. I just didn't like golf. I was a fishin' nut."

That all changed on New Year's Day 1961 when his then neighbor Jack Thompson invited him along for a round at the Cameron Golf Course. "It was just nine holes then," Age less Lankford said. "Seeing him hit those balls, I just couldn't resist. I asked if I could give it a try and have been after it ever since." Before finding his love of golf, Lankford found his heart, actually his sweetheart in high school. He went to school in Milano (graduating in 1944) and his girlfriend, Faye Tabor, went to Rockdale. They married and added two more loves to his life, sons Mike and Daniel.

Mike, a contractor in the Houston area and owner of some apartment properties in Rockdale, was an outstanding athlete and had been noticed by University of Texas football scouts his junior year at RHS, but a blown out knee that same season would cause them lose interest just as quickly.

"He still went to Texas," Lankford said.

Daniel died in a car accident at the age of 19. Lankford's beloved Faye died in 1986.

The father and his only living son will still go fishing every once in a while, but Lankford finds his peace on the golf course.

Harold Lankford has recorded scores in the mid- 70s several times since he has turned 80. Harold Lankford has recorded scores in the mid- 70s several times since he has turned 80. Work and play

Lankford worked for Texas Utilities (better know as TXU but was called IGC in early years) until he retired in 1979.

He averages in the mid-80s on a full 18-hole run.

Playing with buddies like Clint Broadway, Clifford Caffey, James McWaters, Jack Jackson (and more of the 15-18 retirees that might show up), keeps Lankford feeling much younger than his age.

Lankford said that the challenge of the game is what has kept him amused for the last 48 years.

"I can't conquer it," he said. "Just when I think I've got it down, it will whip me to my knees."

He also said that he enjoys the fellowship of those he golfs with each morning at the country club on a course he helped build.

"I really enjoy golf," Lankford said. "It's all I do anymore." Due to the heat, he's had to shorten his game to just the front nine, but still plays like a pro. He even hits the links during winter months as well.

Age records

In an 2006 Senior Journal interview, the golf great Arnold Palmer said there is some conflict to becoming an age shooter.

"A golfer has to have mixed feelings about shooting his or her game. It's an exciting day when and if it happens, but it also means that you have to be up in years before it can happen."

Palmer's first shot his age on Sept. 10, 1995 in Seattle. He had a 66 on his 66th birthday in the final round of the GTE Northwest Classic. It was the first time the legend accomplished the feat.

The PGA Tour only began keeping track of age shooter statistics since 1986.

Golf pro Bob Hamilton holds the record as youngest to shoot his age, according to About.com. In 1975 he shot a 59 at Hamilton Gold Club in Evansville, Indiana.

British Columbia native Arthur Thompson is the oldest golfer to shoot his age at 103. He did so while playing at the Uplands Golf Club in Victoria in 1972.

About.com also lists the record for shooting your age the most times belongs to T. Edison Smith of Moorhead, MN.

He earned the honor after surpassing Abilene resident Frank Bailey.

Bailey had held the record from age 71 to 98, scoring at or better than his age 2,623 times. Smith passed that mark in 2006 and still continues with the record.

Lankford may not make it into those record books, but he definitely has left a one-of-akind divot on the golf course.

AGE SHOOTERS

Here is a list of notable "age
shooters":
Golfer Age Score
Bob Hamilton# 59 59
Walter Morgan# 61 60
Joe Jimenez# 65 63
Sam Snead# 67 66
Joe Jimenez# 69 62
Ed Ervasti 93 72
Arthur Thompson 103 103
• Source: Golf Digest.
# PGA Golfer


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