Young at Heart

These venerable golfers prove that this really is a game for life. How'd they do it?

November 2007

Cy Perkins / 97

Hood River, Ore.

He's still working as a door-to-door vitamin salesman and shooting his age. When not playing, Perkins stays connected to the game by keeping score for his buddies while riding alongside in a cart.

"This is a fun game for me. I used to play 60 rounds a year, and I've shot my age 473 times. The only thing that has meant more to me in life than golf would be my family. I started playing in 1918 when a course was built on part of my father's farm in Kansas. It had sand greens, and the course wasn't much, but I was hooked right away. Golf has gotten me places that money would get other people. I played in the U.S. Amateur Public Links qualifier in 1941 and the U.S. Senior Amateur qualifier in 1965 at Shinnecock. If you learn the rules and etiquette and count all your strokes, there's no limit to what golf will let you do.

"As you get older, you can't get discouraged about how far you hit the ball. I have so many friends who complain because they can't hit it more than 125 yards. So what! If you keep from three-putting every green, you're going to be all right. But a lot of guys will say, 'I don't hit it anymore, so I'm quitting.' Well, that's a bunch of hooey. Keep playing until you can't bend over and tee it up.

"I've been working for more than 70 years. I sell these vitamins door-to-door, and I use 'em. No way am I going to retire -- I'm having the time of my life. I've been very lucky with my health. I'm hoping I pick up enough 97s this year to get the total number of times I've shot my age up to 500."

Cy Breen / 95

Catherdral City, Calif.

Inspired by his wife's illness, Breen decided to celebrate his 90th birthday by playing 90 holes of golf in a day to raise money for cancer research. Five years later, the fund-raiser -- and Cy -- are still going strong.

"I didn't start playing golf until I moved to Cathedral City about 18 years ago. I used to walk a lot, and I found that I could walk and play golf and get some enjoyment out of it. The lowest my handicap has ever been was a 28, but I still think about improving. I play once or twice a week, but I also go to the range twice a week, and I practice my putting every day. I find that a wasted stroke on the fairway can be overcome by a good stroke on the green.

"My stepson asked me five years ago what I planned to do for my 90th birthday. I said, 'I guess I'll play 90 holes to celebrate.' He was working for a company that put on 5K and 10K road races for charities, and he thought my plan was a good idea for a fund-raiser. My wife had just developed breast cancer, so we decided to raise money for the Suzanne Jackson Breast Cancer Fund. [Jackson was an LPGA Tour official who lost her battle with breast cancer in 1998.] The first year we raised $3,800. The one last year, at Cimarron Golf Resort, I played 94 holes, and we raised $22,000.

"The most important thing about age is attitude. I'm in very good health. I must owe it to somebody, but I still enjoy being active. If you're a complainer, if your attitude is terrible, that's when you're going to have problems."

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