There was a time when Don Dean didn’t suppose a lot of golf, knew nothing in regards to the recreation apart from it seemed a little odd.
He didn’t decide up a membership till his late 40s when some soldier associates lastly satisfied him to hitch them for a spherical at Underwood Golf Course at Fort Bliss, the place he was stationed.
That was greater than a half-century in the past.
“It was the mid-1960s. I’ve been hitting it around ever since then,” the 89-year-old Dean mentioned from his East El Paso dwelling. “I grew up in South Texas, I played a lot of sports, but I didn’t play any golf at all. I thought it was sort of a silly game, but my buddies kept asking me, ‘Let’s go play some golf.’ I finally did.”
What he rapidly discovered was that he was good at golf.
Almost instantly after choosing up a membership, he was capturing within the 80s. He went on to win a pair of metropolis senior championships in 2000 and 2001, quite a few Underwood membership titles, and till a few years in the past, when he was in his mid-80s, had a 5 handicap.
He had his most up-to-date hole-in-one six years in the past (No. 5 on Underwood’s Sunrise course) and regardless of being handled for Parkinson’s Syndrome symptoms that embody a small tremor in one in all his fingers, he recurrently shoots below his age.
“I was a pretty good baseball player,” mentioned Dean, who performed baseball for Prairie View A&M earlier than becoming a member of the Army in 1952. “A guy told me when I first started out, ‘You swing that club like a baseball bat.’ I picked it up quickly. Early on, I started out shooting in the 80s pretty quickly.
“My baseball skills helped me with my golf skills.”
That was within the mid-Sixties, and he’s the final of that group of associates nonetheless taking part in golf. He’s discovered one other set of associates. Dean says, “Call me grandpa, especially when I beat them.
“All the guys I’m playing with are much younger than I am. One of the guys is 47 years old, I can beat him sometimes. Not all the time, not like I used to, but sometimes.”
One of these associates, Julian Grubbs, disputes the calling him grandpa half, however not the profitable half.
“We’ve been playing together 25 years, so it’s crept up on me, but I haven’t beaten him in several years,” mentioned Grubbs, who’s 73. “He’s amazing. I want to be like him when I grow up. We have so much fun on the golf course. Sometimes it’s hard to hit the ball we’re having so much fun.”
For his half, Dean, who retired from the army in 1982, is outrunning age. He’s nonetheless sharp, in good well being, within the twenty first yr of marriage to his second spouse, Julia. On a good day, he shoots within the mid-80s — he was capturing within the mid-70s 5 years in the past — and he will get out to Underwood twice a week.
“I encourage him,” mentioned Julia, who, like the remainder of his household that features 4 youngsters born within the Fifties, doesn’t play herself. “It helps with his health, not just physically but getting out there and interacting with his friends. It keeps him going.”
There have been a few concessions. For one, his associates lastly let him hit from the ahead tees.
“They wouldn’t let me hit from those until I was 85 years old,” mentioned Dean, a native of Port Lavaca in South Texas. “‘You beat us too badly.’ So I couldn’t shoot the forward tees until I was 85.”
Dean give up touring out of city for tournaments a few years in the past and not performs tournaments, although he acknowledges some small payments might change fingers of their Wednesday video games. He didn’t golf this previous Wednesday, although, when rain was within the space.
“I’m a fair-weather golfer,” he mentioned. “I used to go out when it was cold, but not anymore.”
El Paso is a good place to play fair-weather golf, one of many causes he’s been right here since 1958. Dean imagines he’ll be again on the course Saturday.
“It’s fun to get out there and play golf right now, just get off the couch, get out of the house, go out and relax, have some fun with my buddies,” Dean mentioned. “It’s a good thing to be able to do that right now.
“I’m still out there trying to hit it around.”
Bret Bloomquist might be reached at 915-546-6359; [email protected]; @Bretbloomquist on Twitter.