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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Golfer celebrates 60 years on the links and 90 on Earth

Golfer celebrates 60 years on the links and 90 on Earth

Barbara Sanders, who turns 90 next week, golfs 18 holes every Wednesday morning. If she doesn't like her score, sometimes she'll golf another round in the afternoon. (Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr).
Barbara Sanders, who turns 90 next week, golfs 18 holes every Wednesday morning. If she doesn't like her score, sometimes she'll golf another round in the afternoon. (Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr).

By LISA BRITTON

Of the Baker City Herald

In more than 60 years of golfing, Barbara Sanders can only think of one less-than-desirable incident on the Baker City Golf Course.

She fell in the pond.

Her ball had plopped in the shallows, so Sanders climbed down to pluck it out.

"I reached down and slid — it was slippery mud — into the water," she says. "I was all muddy."

She pauses, then begins to laugh at the memory.

"I'm a true golfer. I kept going."

Sanders' golf habit began in the 1940s when she accompanied her husband on the golf course.

She will turn 90 on Monday.

"I didn't start right away," she says. "I walked with my husband and watched him play."

They also pulled the golf cart behind them while traversing the original nine holes in Baker City.

Walking was a hard habit to break.

"I think I was one of the last to buy a motorized cart," she says.

Then, one day, Sanders decided she wanted to give the sport a try, so she signed up for lessons with golf pro Elmer Holland.

"I took some iron lessons from him — he wouldn't let me play with woods. Now I rely on the woods," she says.

After five sessions, Sanders decided to tackle the course herself.

"I wasn't interested in competitive golf, I just had fun," she says.

But then she hit a score of 55.

"They said I was ready to compete."

So she did, traveling to tournaments all around Oregon.

She's quick to point out her record.

"I was never a champion — I have runner-up trophies mostly. And I've never had a hole-in-one. Almost — I was about that far away," she says, holding her hands about two feet apart.

And, she says, her golfing technique hasn't changed much in the past 60 years.

"Well, that's the sad story — no. I admit it, I don't play as well as I should.

"I have a notoriously long backswing and I approach the ball differently. But it works for me. I'm stuck with it."

Though Sanders no longer travels to compete, she plays 18 holes every Wednesday with the women's golf club.

If her morning score isn't quite up to par, she doesn't mope.

She just goes back out and plays another round.

"Two weeks ago I played 27 holes. After lunch I went out and played nine holes by myself. I do better by myself," she says.

She has her favorite holes, and some that always give her trouble.

No. 7 is the worst to play, she says, because it's so long.

"I can easily go 100 yards, maybe 130, but I'm really not a long ball hitter," she says.

Twelve and 13 top her list as the best of the 18 holes.

"Twelve has the pond I fell in, but nevertheless it's one of my favorite holes," she says.

Then her face lights up as she names another favorite, one that has nothing to do with golf.

"I love No. 4. The view of Baker is just beautiful."

 
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