Professional clubfitter Jim McCleery thought he'd seen every type of golfer in his shop (McGolf Custom Clubs in Waverly, Ohio). Then one day in May, 85-year-old Pauline Whitacre walked through his door. "That woman, what a treat it was to get to spend time with her," McCleery says. "I can only imagine what she was like back in the day. Competitive, to say the least."
Whitacre, of Canton, Ohio, doesn't just like golf, she loves it and lives it almost every day, even though she's been suffering from emphysema for the last three years. "I still play about three or four times a week all year, both here and in Florida, so I guess that's over 150 rounds a year," she says. Whitacre picked up the game as a 10-year-old at her parents' club in Canton back in 1937, and broke 80 for the first time at age 14. She went on to play college golf (long before there really was such a thing) at Ohio State, where she lost to LPGA co-founder Marilynn Smith in the semifinals of the National Intercollegiate. After getting married, she won the Ohio State Amateur Championship three times and the Ohio Invitational Senior Championship at least six times (she can't quite remember). To this day, she competes regularly, and she hasn't lost an ounce of drive (she was even featured on the local news at last year's Ohio Senior Women's Amateur Championship, where she competed in the Super Seniors division).
But lately, Whitacre's scores had been inching up, and she just wasn't hitting the ball as far as she used to. And even though she keeps shooting her age or better on a regular basis (she estimates she's done that at least 70 times by now), she wasn't happy with her 13.5 handicap. So her daughter, Janet Kaboth, booked her a clubfitting session with McCleery to see if a new set of clubs might help.