- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

OWASSO, Okla. (AP) - R.C. Williams is a testament to the value of staying active.

Until the age of 58, Williams had never touched a golf club. Now, at 91, the Collinsville resident plays three or four days a week - and plays it at a remarkably impressive level, the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1uWOQg7 ) reported.

Williams usually tees it up at the Owasso Golf and Athletic Club and rarely shoots a score of worse than 85. At the age of 86, he recorded his lowest round - a 67 at the par-72 Owasso course.

“It gets me out of the house,” he said. “I’m not sitting in a chair, watching TV or something.”

During a recent round played in cool, windy conditions, Williams had a triple-bogey on the par-4 11th hole but recovered to complete the round with six consecutive pars and a score of 80.

Williams’ most frequent playing partner is 62-year-old Craig Brown, who resides in Owasso.

“Besides being a good golfer, he’s a really good person,” Brown said of Williams. “He’ll play golf with anybody that will play golf with him, and he doesn’t waste time on the golf course. He’s not about slow play at all, and he counts every stroke he takes - good or bad.

“He’s polite and kind to everybody he plays with. He teases us a little bit, but we deserve it. It’s just a real joy to get to spend time with him. You learn a whole lot more than golf. He’s always positive and has a wonderful outlook on life. Every time he comes here, he’s got a smile on his face. If you’re down, he’ll pick you up. If you’ve got a need, he doesn’t hesitate to pray for you right then. He doesn’t wait.”

When a golfer shoots a score equal to or lower than his age, it is considered a noteworthy achievement. On how many occasions has Williams done it?

“Hundreds. Literally hundreds,” Brown said. “We play four or five days a week, all year long, and he’ll shoot his age or better usually every time.

“He’s kind of the ambassador out here, really. We want him here at this course. We don’t want him playing some place else. Whatever the rate has to be, if we have to chip in or whatever … we expect him to keep coming out here and playing golf until he doesn’t want to play anymore.”

A native of the Brownwood, Texas, area, Williams has a simple but apparently effective workout routine: Every morning, usually at about 5 o’clock, he lies flat on his back and does 150 leg lifts.

Illustrating the benefits, he punched himself in the stomach. “It keeps my gut in shape,” he said.

In 1942, after having been tipped that jobs were plentiful in Tulsa, Williams drove his 1932 Ford to Oklahoma and secured work with the Douglas Aircraft Co., shooting rivets and doing sheet-metal work at an Air Force plant in which World War II military bombers were built. Also in 1942, he attended a church revival.

“I got saved,” Williams says, “and the Lord has blessed me ever since.”

Next month, Williams and his wife, Wanda Lee, will have been married for 70 years. They have three children. Williams is an elder at Faith Fellowship church in Collinsville. After becoming disgruntled with his previous church, he helped to establish Faith Fellowship in 1973.

Two years shy of his 60th birthday, Williams experienced golf for the first time.

“I wanted to see if I could hit that little white ball,” he recalled. “On the (first) tee box, I hit a ball over 200 yards.”

Beginner’s luck faded during the rest of the round, however. Williams says he sprayed shots all over the course. He played only three times that year.

Eventually, though, he got hooked on the game.

“I bought a set of clubs,” Williams said, “and then my wife thought she was a widow woman.”

Regardless of their skill level, most golfers typically are attired in clothes that qualify as golf clothes. Williams doesn’t own any golf clothes or even any golf shoes.

The majority of golfers wear a glove on their primary grip hand. Williams never wears a glove.

Most golfers are particular about the clubs they swing, but all but one of Williams’ current woods and irons were previously used and given to him by friends. His putter is a really old, really plain model with a grip fortified by a few wraps of electrician’s tape. Williams believes he purchased the putter at a flea market.

The putter looks like it wouldn’t have fetched more than a dollar, but Williams uses it effectively. He reads and executes putts very well.

When asked why he hasn’t splurged on nice clubs and a putter, he replied, “Because I’m too tight.”

Williams even makes his own golf tees, carving them from sections of PVC pipe.

While Williams does not appear to have issues with vision, he does play a pink ball because it is easier to see. He has not undergone any joint-replacement surgeries. His knees and hips are original.

“The only thing that ain’t original - my teeth’s not original,” he said. “And I don’t hear the best in the world. I’m getting to where I don’t hit the ball as long as I used to.”

Said Brown: “That makes me think that he hit it a long, long way. He hits it over 200 (yards) now.”

To describe Williams’ handshake as “firm” would be an understatement. He is solidly built at 5-foot-8 and 178 pounds.

“His hands are like a vise,” Brown said. “He usually likes to play 36 holes a day. He’ll wear you out.”

On several holes, Williams used a fairway wood to hit second shots that were fairly low and usually dead-center. A more lofted ball would have profoundly affected by the wind, but the Williams ball cut through the breeze and got the desired yardage.

“If you can’t play that shot, then you’re going to have a hard time playing golf in Oklahoma,” he said.

After the triple-bogey on 11 and a bogey on the 12th hole, Williams began the 338-yard 13th hole with a perfect tee ball and an approach that stopped just shy of the front edge of the green. He elected to putt instead of chip, and his uphill roll from 60 feet stopped only a few inches of the cup. Easy par.

The par-4 14th requires a precise tee shot because about 80 yards of water separates the tee box from the fairway, and because the player is hitting to a specific target. The fairway has an almost 90-degree dogleg left to the hole.

Before striking his shot, Williams quipped, “I might get a birdie here. There are plenty of them out there.”

He was referring to the scores of ducks in the pond and the scores of geese near the pond.

Williams then launched a sweet tee shot and a second shot that landed on the green and took a right-turn bounce toward the flag. He went on to par the hole.

“He gets all the bounces,” Brown said.

On the 15th green, Williams was short on an 18-foot putt for birdie. Standing far enough away that Williams couldn’t hear him, Brown said, “This is what R.C. will say now: ‘That’s a par and I’m not mad.’ He always says that.”

At that exact moment, Williams tapped in, leaned over to retrieve the ball and said, “That’s a par and I’m not mad.”

Brown grinned and shook his head.

During his round, Williams was shadowed by a Tulsa World sports writer and World photographer John Clanton. As Williams walked toward the 18th tee, Clanton was lying on his stomach, attempting to get a better angle from which to shoot video.

Williams turned to the writer and said, “Your buddy is laying down on the job.”

At no point in the round was there any profanity. There were a couple of poor shots, but no expressions of anger from Williams. At the end of every round, he shakes the hand of his playing partner and says, “Lord bless you.”

After having shot an 80, Williams sat down for a 30-minute interview with the Tulsa World representatives. Clanton concluded by presenting a question to each man: What do you hope for?

Williams’ response: “My greatest hope is to make heaven. I live for the Lord and glorify him.”

Brown’s response: “I just hope that I can be half the person (Williams) is as I age. He is a great person. I would be honored to grow up to be half the man he is.”

The time was 3:30 p.m. Less than two hours of daylight remained, but Williams and Brown headed back to their cart and returned to the first tee.

“We’ve got time for nine more,” Williams announced.

___

Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com


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