CHATSWORTH — C.L. Cruse can remember his introduction to golf. He was a 12-year-old caddy in Cherokee County, and golfers would tip him a whole quarter for each 18-hole round.
“You could get 50 cents if you carried two bags,” Cruse said, “but if either of the golfers lost a ball, you only got the quarter.”
A quarter may not sound like a lot — but it was 1937.
Now, 76 years later, Cruse is a member of an exclusive club of octogenarian golfers (and one in his 90s) who meet regularly for a loop around the course at Indian Trace. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, you are likely to see the group playing.
If they need a fourth and ask you to come along, say “Yes.” To hear the stories these five tell sitting around the back porch of the Indian Trace clubhouse would make for a funny and enlightening round of golf.
“There have been a lot of guys who have passed away over the years,” Emmett Carroll said. “But we all keep coming back.”
Wallace Douglas is the elder statesman of the group at 91. Joe Kephart, Carroll and Cruse are all 88. Howard Bradford is the baby of the group, a mere 83.
“They have all been coming out here for years,” course owner Tracy Spurlock said. “You won’t find a better group of guys, and they can all shoot their age.”
Kephart wasn’t quite so confident.
“Well, you might be stretching it a little there,” said Kephart, who advised me to get ready to roll my pants up a little bit, because it was about to get deep. “On a good day, we can shoot our age.”
On a very good day, it is better than that.
“Someone asked me how I can stay in the fairway all the time,” Carroll said. “It is simple: I can’t hit it far enough to get out of the fairway.”