Russell White was a middle-aged man searching for relief from the stress brought on by making a living in the rough-and-tumble world of sales.
White’s doctor — perhaps as a practical joke, perhaps not — recommended he take up golf. So at the age of 46, with no previous playing experience, White threw himself headlong into one of the most frustrating, infuriating, exhilarating and rewarding of hobbies.
Golf smiled on White, now 82, in a way it rarely does for most recreational players.
White was playing No. 9 at Plattsburg Country Club in late November with friends Floyd Higgerson and Gary Deering. White took aim with his 9-wood on the 116-yard hole, and his aim was true.
“It hit beside the hole and kicked right into the cup,” White said. “One bounce, and it went into the cup.”
There was no raucous celebration, and not because it was cold, or because the trio was racing daylight to finish the round.
It’s just that White has been there before. Twice. The latest ace was his third, matching the ones in 2010 and 2005. Those also came at Plattsburg CC (No. 15 and No. 11). The feeling never gets old, even if the celebrations get more subdued.
“I don’t know what your odds are. I think the odds are greater on a double eagle than a hole in in one,” White said. “The first time I had one, I was more excited. When you get older, you take things for granted, more or less.”
White still owes his buddies a round of drinks this spring. The Plattsburg CC clubhouse was already closed for the winter when White knocked in his latest ace. He’ll pay up after the first holes of the 2017 season, for the same reason he gravitated toward golf in the first place.
“Golf teaches you ethics and self-confidence,” White said. “You don’t have a team to back you up like football and basketball.”
White started as a sand-green golfer.
“We didn’t have grass until 1982, and I had to learn the game all over again,” White said with a laugh.
He’s played courses all over northwest Missouri, but now plays only at Plattsburg CC, primarily because lives on the course and a golf cart with his clubs on the back sits in the garage.
White and his friends are known as the “nooners”, because of their standing 12 p.m. tee time during golf season. The off-season is spent at a local coffee shop, or watching the Golf Channel. Anything to pass the time until the days grow longer, the grass gets greener and it’s time to tee it up again.
“It’s the challenge of the score. I don’t hit a long ball anymore, so the competition, I guess, is what it is. It’s the comradery and people you play with from all the different towns,” White said. “I’ve had three holes-in-one. Some people play all their life and don’t get one. I don’t know how many more years I’ll be able to play, so I’m glad I got one.”
The hunt for hole-in-one No. 4 is only a few months away.