By Luke Olson
Jimmy Jones reveals the secret for a man his age to have the capability to shoot the golf scores he puts up:
“Keeping busy,” he says.
Jones, 86, wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every day, the same time he got up for work at Boeing. He soon heads to the course for one of the first tee times in the morning around 6 a.m. with the same group of guys he always plays with.
After the round, he will head to LA Fitness for a couple hours and go home to mow his lawn, wash his car—whatever needs to be done. He rarely will sit around and watch television—maybe for a ball game though.
But, it’s what it takes for Jones to fire a potential record breaking 68 for the amount of strokes under his age at Riverbend Golf Course in Kent, WA on June 30. His round concluded with a total of six birdies, ten pars and a mere two bogeys.
Again, at 86-years old.
Jones had no idea where he stood during the round– until he tapped in for par after just missing a five-foot birdie on the 18th hole.
“I didn’t even think about it,” Jones said. “When I got through they said, ‘Jimmy you made it! Man, that’s great!’”
Missing an easy birdie for a 67 was not an issue after the round, it was the fact he missed the opportunity to win another skin.
“I was trying to win the skin,” Jones stated. “I didn’t care about no record, I could’ve won a $15 skin.”
According to Golf Digest, the record holder for most strokes under their age was the Canadian senior golfer, Ed Ervasti, when at 93-years old shot a score of 72. Nonetheless, it is still remarkable for Jones to shoot a four-under-par round. In fact, it would be surprising if he doesn’t shoot a score under his age as he carries a handicap of 7.9.
“Highest my handicap has ever been is 10,” he said. “I was a 10 for about a month.”
Was Jones happy his 68 would drop his handicap?
“No,” he laughs. “Cause then I can’t win nothing!”
But, it was just another day for Jones, who plays nearly every day–about 250 rounds a year—most the time at Riverbend where he marshals once a week in the mornings to keep his status of getting his rounds compt. Since the passing of his wife in 2008, Riverbend has been a second home to him.
“It’s nice getting out with these guys,” Jones commented. “This is my second family.”
There have been many rounds of 72’s, 73’s and 74’s on his resume, but it was no surprise to his playing partners after his intriguing round of 68, as Jones’ power of the tee–averaging around 270 yards, has always been a strong point in his game. But, on that Saturday, not only was off the tee still prolific, his short game got torrid.
“My weakness is the putter,” he said. “But, the day I shot the 68, my putter was working. My chipping was good too.”
Born and raised in Arkansas, golf has always been part of his life since he was “knee high”. His backyard growing up was the number five fair-way of Camden Country Club in which he started caddying for the club when he was about nine years old. A segregated course, he was not given the opportunity to have clubs or play.
So, what did Jones do? He started making his own clubs that had broken shafts. Back when shafts were persimmon, he would burn that shaft out, cut down part of a tree and insert a new piece of wood into it. He also created manmade holes for him to play and practice on.
“I would go out in the woods—there is trees everywhere in Arkansas and you would cut down a tree that’s crooked,” he said. “You would play a couple holes with it—and it would break, then you would go back and cut another and it break.”
Jones did not even own a real set of store bought clubs until around 1940, that still are hanging around his garage.
“I was working for Boeing and one of the guys I was working with—he bought clubs, so he gave me his old set,” he said. “They were Macgregor Tourney’s and he sold them to me for $20.”
Retired since 96’, Jones does not miss a beat. Head pro, Josh Immordino, commented on what a pleasure it has been to have him around.
“It has been great getting to know Jimmy over the last 13 years,” he said. “The type of guy you love to have around the course. He is always in a good mood and as a marshal, he is amazing with customer and knows everybody.”
“He is basically a part of the Riverbend family.”