Morri: Carner’s remarkable example of golf’s unique qualities
An opening round 80 would rarely get much attention in a professional golf event but when the player who signs for that eight-over score is 84-years-old, that changes things.
JoAnne Carner long ago cemented her position as one of the game’s greats with two U.S Women’s Open titles and 47 other professional wins, among them the 1975 Women’s Australian Open when it was last played at this year’s co-host venue The Australian Golf Club.
But her performance on day one of the U.S Senior Women’s Open at Waverley Country Club in Oregon might be even more impressive.
To be playing at all at 84 is an extraordinary feat. To then beat 37 other players on the opening day is difficult to comprehend.
It was the sixth time in the past five years Carner has matched or beaten her age in the tournament and while she was rightly lauded around the world for her performance the achievement was more than just personal.
It is testament to the game itself that someone born in 1939 (the year the second world war began, for context) might still be able to play any sport to a decent level.
In tennis or cricket or football it would be literally impossible, but in golf it is not uncommon. Not the norm, but not uncommon.
"Often overlooked in the debate about the place of golf courses in communities is the role the game plays for those whose age precludes other recreational activities." – Rod Morri.
Almost every golf district in the world would boast at least one player in their 70s or beyond who still maintains a low single digit handicap.
More important than the level of play, however, is the simple fact senior citizens are, in fact, a common sight in the game.
Often overlooked in the debate about the place of golf courses in communities is the role the game plays for those whose age precludes other recreational activities.
Governments at all levels talk the talk about the need for people to be active in later life yet few are proactive about promoting golf as a recreation.
There is a reason so many outside golf think it is an old person’s game and it’s an image many within have – wrongly – fought against.
The truth of golf is that it is for all, from the amazing four and five-year-olds you see on YouTube to the heart-warming stories of club members in their 90s who still walk and play.
Carner’s efforts last week in Oregon were extraordinary and showcased the remarkable talent she has for the game.
But the bigger takeaway is about a game that allows such a legend to show off those skills so late in life.
Just another selling point for the game that administrators would do well to promote.
(On a side note, hat tip to Australia’s own world beating senior amateur Sue Wooster who, at 60, continues to amaze with her play and finished this week in a tie for 29th. Sue was the very first guest on our The Thing About Golf podcast back in 2019 and it’s an episode still worth listening to. You can find it HERE– Rod Morri.HERE