Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Having fun is the goal for these senior golfers

By Katie Murdoch
Herald writer
Members of the Teed Off Seniors Golf League, Sid Bui (from left), of Lynnwood, Bob Hackney, of Everett, and Elaine Clemensen, of Lynnwood, react as Cl...

Purchase Photo Reprint Weekly Herald/CHRIS GOODENOW

Members of the Teed Off Seniors Golf League, Sid Bui (from left), of Lynnwood, Bob Hackney, of Everett, and Elaine Clemensen, of Lynnwood, react as Clemensen narrowly misses a putt on the second hole during the league's kick-off tourney.

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — The Teed Off Seniors Golf League happily kicked off its seventh season, contrary to its tongue-in-cheek name.
In fact, the name is a nod to their fun, nonserious approach toward playing golf.
“The name stuck really quickly,” said Bob Hackney, facilitator of the league and a Lynnwood Senior Center volunteer.
The league comprised of 30 members has eight scheduled tee times from now until late fall. The league doesn't typically keep score and offers a chance for seniors to socialize and reconnect, Hackney said. Many of the players were avid golfers but their physical abilities have slowed down a bit, Hackney said.
The season has opening and closing field days, the only two days when scores are kept and prizes offered. The Lynnwood Senior Center Advisory Board donates money to pay for prizes.
“They authorized a generous, gracious grant to buy golf balls and prizes,” Hackney said.
The league fits the senior center's mission of promoting chances for seniors to stay active, said Mary-Anne Grafton, senior center supervisor. The partnership with Ballinger Lake Golf Course and its operators, Hardy Golf, means seniors have a place to learn and play with people who share a similar interest. The senior center also encourages volunteer work and matching seniors' skills and abilities to meaningful tasks, Grafton added. She credits the league to Hackney's commitment to volunteer work.
“Teed Off Seniors is such a terrific collaboration with the Ballinger Golf Course,” she wrote in an email. “Carol and Ty welcome the group with warmth, caring, and extraordinary service. As people retire, it can be hard to continue the natural connections found when working or raising children.”
The league began in 2005 when members of the Lynnwood Senior Center agreed they wanted to play golf. The original dozen members still play. They just needed a place to do so.
The Lynnwood Municipal Golf Course is an ideal venue, Hackney said. However, the hours and fast pace didn't jive with the senior golf league's season schedule and preferred recreational pace.
The league chose Ballinger Lake Golf Course in Mountlake Terrace as the managers, Tyrone and Carol Hardy, had the flexibility to offer eight tee times for the seniors and a pace that matches their needs. Also, the course is easy for older players to walk.
“We said, 'We'll give this a try,'” Hackney said.
The Teed Off Seniors have been supportive of Hardy Golf, Carol Hardy said.
Earlier this year when the Hardys thought they were going to leave the golf course, the seniors stepped up and showed support.
“We were distressed,” Hackney said.
“You don't realize how close people are to you until you think you won't be in touch,” Hardy said.
The senior league is like a family to the Hardys, she said. They are aware of the players' health and what's going on in their families.
“We stay on top of that and look out for them,” she said. “We want them to know they're welcome here.”
The slower, noncompetitive pace is inviting to timid golfers, particularly women. The golf course offers “Gab and Golf” tee times to entice more female golfers.
Hardy has encountered golfers who told her they don't want to play behind seniors or women because they think those players will be too slow. That attitude is unacceptable at Ballinger Lake, she said.
“The senior population is often overlooked and doesn't have a place to play,” she said. “Here they do.”