PD Member Leo Luken wins -Shoot Your Age Tournament
THE VILLAGES, Fla. - When Dick Frankovic caught wind of the first-annual "Shoot Your Age Championship," one name immediately sprang to his mind: "Leo Luken."
Why not? Leonard Luken was one of Frankovic's three-times-a-week playing partners on the Robert Trent Jones Ocean Course and the George Fazio Course at famed Palmetto Dunes Resort on Hilton Head Island, S.C., where the two men both resided. Frankovic had witnessed firsthand more times than he could count the 87-year-old Luken shoot his age or better on the golf course.
In all, Luken had accomplished one of sports' most enviable goals more than 500 times.
When it came to sporting achievement, Frankovic knew Luken had few peers. Luken was, at one point in his life, arguably the world's best fast-pitch softball hurler, winning 53 straight games from 1944-46 for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Zollner Pistons. Later in life, he and his wife of 63 years, Mickey, taught ballroom dancing for 22 years.
Frankovic and the rest of their regular group at Palmetto Dunes decided to sponsor Luken to play in the tournament. It proved a wise investment.
The 530th time was the ultimate winner for Luken, who played an enchanting round of golf that must stand above any other in which he has shot his age. Luken carded an 81 - six strokes under his age - to win The Villages Shoot Your Age Championship at the par-72, 6,251-yard Arnold Palmer Legends Country Club Saturday, besting a mostly amateur field of 60 players and headlined by PGA Tour legends Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.
Saturday's 18-hole finale was televised nationally by CBS on Sunday (tape delay) from 1-3 p.m. EDT. Palmer, 76, the designer of The Villages Shoot Your Age Championship course, lived up to the legend his older and younger fans can attest to by shooting a 73, the low round of the competition.
However, in this maiden event where one's age is considered par, Luken's score was at the top of the leaderboard and enabled him to take home the winner's prizes -- an engraved Waterford crystal bowl, a pair of Southwest Airlines tickets and a 42-inch Dell plasma-screen TV.
"This is a great deal. It's one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me," said Luken. "It was better than winning the fast-pitch softball World Series. I hit the ball pretty good. I missed three or four putts but I didn't putt too badly. I hit a lot of greens that I don't normally do."
"I think it's wonderful," added Palmer. "The enthusiasm from (everyone) is wonderful. The (crowd) just came out like troopers. I'm looking forward to next year."
Player, 70, who dazzled and entertained the large crowd and fellow players Saturday, reached his 70th stroke on the green of the 17th hole. He had the highlight shot of the event, holing in for eagle from 111 yards out at the par-5 11th hole with a 52-degree wedge.
Six players shot their age or better Saturday. Along with Luken and Palmer, Loyal "Bud" Chapman, of Treasure Island, Fla., and Joe Cheves, from Morganton NC shot three under their age with an 80 and an 84, respectively. Robert Harris, 77, from Boynton Beach, Fla., recorded a 75 and Crystal River, Fla. resident Archie Swanson, 87, hit his age on the number.
Competitors ranged in age from 67-year-old Leon Sealock of Lady Lake, Fla. to 96-year-old Harold Layman of Ormond Beach, Fla. Two other amateurs were in their 90s.
Luken, 87, Wins Inaugural The Villages Shoot Your Age Championship
"We had a lot of fun and I must say this is one of the greatest concepts in my 54 years as a pro," Player said. "They're 96, 86, 76 and all trying to break their age and I found it very exciting. It puts a lot of pressure on you. This is something that could take place everywhere in the world. I enjoyed it immensely. This year, I've broken my age 23 times. It's a great, great thrill. I must say the people at The Villages were very enthusiastic."
Luken shot his age for the first time when he was 71, at a local amateur event in Tennessee. He and his wife taught ballroom dancing for 20 years as a second job to help raise six children.
Palmer's playing partners were Chapman, who won Thursday's preliminary round by shooting a whopping 10 strokes under his age, and Cheves, who owns the PGA world record for the lowest round under his age - he shot a 64 when he was 81 at his local Mimosa Hills CC (6,250 yards) in North Carolina.
Player was grouped with Christy Mosteferis, 83, of Niceville, Fla. and Kermit Dannehl, 86, of Phoenix, Ariz. Dannehl is the Guinness World Record holder for the number of rounds he has shot his age or better (1,042). He reached his age on the green of the 17th hole Saturday and was eliminated.
In boosting the dramatics of the event, players were eliminated once they reached the number of strokes equaling their age during their round and left the course.
Robert Horowitz, President of Juma Entertainment LLC and creator of this tournament, plans to expand Shoot Your Age internationally as well as utilize this first event as a platform for a national certification Shoot Your Age program for golfers.
Saturday, May 6, 2006
At Arnold Palmer Legends Country Club (6,251 yards, Par 72)
The Villages, Florida
Note: The lowest score under one's age - par in this event -- is the winner. The top six players shot their age or lower and their scores below reflect such. Those who did not shoot their age were eliminated and left the course when they reached the number of strokes equaling their age during their round. The point on the course at which one reached before elimination is shown below.
Leonard Luken 87 Hilton Head, SC 81 (6 under age)
Arnold Palmer 76 Latrobe, PA 73 (-3)
Loyal (Bud) Chapman 83 Treasure Island, FL 80 (-3)
Joe Cheves 87 Morganton, NC 84 (-3)
Robert Harris 77 Boynton Beach, FL 75 (-2)
Archie Swanson 87 Crystal River, FL 87 (E)
Cy Peachy 81 The Villages, FL 18th green
John Asdal 86 The Villages, FL 18th fairway
Tag Gibson 87 The Villages, FL 18th fairway
Smith Hagaman 80 Winston-Salem, NC 18th fairway
Luken, 87, Wins Inaugural The Villages Shoot Your Age Championship
Larry Paladino 76 Marco Island, FL 18th fairway
Alfred (Al) Hill 80 Hickory, NC 18th tee
Joseph Kennard 85 The Villages, FL 18th tee
Odie Martin 74 The Villages, FL 18th tee
Gary Player 70 The Cliffs, SC 17th green
Sydney Beckwith 87 Clermont, FL 17th green
Harry Bono 76 Ocala, FL 17th green
Kermit Dannehl 86 Phoenix, AZ 17th green
Charles Garman 77 Huntsville, AL 17th green
Lester Johnson 81 The Villages, FL 17th green
Roy Lecrone 74 The Villages, FL 17th green
Christy Mosteferis 83 Niceville, FL 17th green
Will Newburg 91 Delray Beach, FL 17th green
Glenn Nielson 80 The Villages, FL 17th green
Stanley Plummer 85 Summerfield, FL 17th green
Jeffrey Spangler 72 The Villages, FL 17th green
Ray Castle 86 The Villages, FL 17th fairway
Howard Kanitz 89 The Villages, FL 17th fairway
Darrel Montgomery 81 The Villages, FL 17th fairway
William McEwen Jr. 83 Clermont, FL 17th tee
James Mullins 72 Clermont, FL 17th tee
Robert Rice 72 The Villages, FL 17th tee
Leon Sealock 67 Lady Lake, FL 17th tee
Richard Sevey 75 The Villages, FL 17th tee
William Kelso 85 The Villages, FL 16th green
Harold Layman 96 Ormond Beach, FL 16th green
Kermit Matyas 69 The Villages, FL 16th green
George Mazur 79 The Villages, FL 16th green
Robert McCollough 76 The Villages, FL 16th green
Paul Prester 76 The Villages, FL 16th green
John Sutphen 72 The Villages, FL 16th green
Roy Clements 74 The Villages, FL 16th fairway
Frank Herremans 79 The Villages, FL 16th fairway
Harry Hoy 81 The Villages, FL 16th fairway
Lars Johnson 84 The Villages, FL 16th fairway
Joseph Pniewski 86 The Villages, FL 16th fairway
Charles Troell 77 The Villages, FL 16th fairway
Marion Ferguson 81 The Villages, FL 16th tee
John Irelan 78 The Villages, FL 16th tee
Everett Whitehead 81 The Villages, FL 16th tee
Alan Winchester Sr. 90 Summerfield, FL 16th tee
Don Ecton 69 The Villages, FL 15th green
Tito Goyma 78 The Villages, FL 15th green
John Deberry 86 The Villages, FL 15th fairway
William Demarest 77 The Villages, FL 15th fairway
James Carroll 74 The Villages, FL 15th tee
Hershel Upchurch 76 The Villages, FL 14th green
John Angelotta 83 The Villages, FL 14th fairway
Robert White 83 The Villages, FL 14th fairway
Ray Charles Angus Ried 82 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada WD