Joe Atkins and Jim Farrar don’t hit the ball as far as they once did or score as well on the golf course as they did in their younger years.
But at 87 and 75 years old, respectively, Atkins’ and Farrar’s goals have changed, and their golfing victories are measured by different accomplishments.
Both Columbus residents captured one of those major victories on the course Oct. 24 while playing in the same foursome at Harrison Lake Country Club. Farrar recorded a hole-in-one, and Atkins shot 87 for 18 holes to match his age.
“It was pretty awesome that he did that, and I was fortunate enough to get another hole-in-one,” Farrar said. “It was a pretty exciting day.”
Story continues below gallery
The hole-in-one was the second overall for Farrar and his first in about 30 years. He hit a 5-iron to ace the par-3 No. 6, which they played from the forward tees at 138 yards.
“(The ball) took off, and I could see it was right at the hole,” Farrar said. “It was fairly hot because I had over-clubbed it. I figured it had skipped off the green at the back, and one of our playing partners said ‘That might have gone in.'”
When Farrar, Atkins and their playing partners, Alan Ross and Larry VanEpps, arrived at the green, they realized that the ball had indeed gone in the hole.
As the round wore on, Atkins realized he had an excellent opportunity to shoot his age or better for the 20th time. Five of those instances have come at Harrison Lake, and the other 15 have come at Lemon Bay Golf Club in Florida, where he spends most of the winter.
The first time Atkins shot his age came in 2001, when fired a 73 at the age of 73 at Lemon Bay. He didn’t do it again until 2009 when he carded an 80 at that same course. Lemon Bay was also the site of his only hole-in-one in March 2014, when he matched his age with an 86.
Atkins had a knee replacement in 2012 and hip replacement on May 21, but they haven’t slowed him down.
“My knee recovered very well,” Atkins said. “My hip, it’s coming back, but it doesn’t bother me much on the golf course. That’s the good part.”
Since having the hip replacement, Atkins and his playing partners have moved up to the forward tees on the courses they play.
“It makes the game a lot more fun because you can get to the green a few times in regulation,” Atkins said.
Harrison Lake pro Keith Clark asked Atkins recently if he had any trouble with his hip while playing golf.
“I said ‘Climbing in, climbing out (of bunkers),'” Atkins said. “He said, ‘For God’s sake, stay out of the bunkers.’ I said ‘That’s a good idea.'”
Both Atkins and Farrar head south for the winter. Farrar is back in Columbus for a couple weeks before heading back to North Carolina.
Atkins left Tuesday for Florida, where he plays golf three times a week.
“I’d like to shoot (my age) again,” Atkins said. “When I get back to (Lemon Bay), I’ll be giving it a try.”
Name: Joe Atkins
Former occupation: Worked for Noblitt Sparks from 1949-94, spending 32 of those years in Detroit, was president of automotive division of Arvin
Name: Jim Farrar
Hometown: Mascoutah, Illinois
Former occupation: Worked for Cummins from 1961-96