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It’s Just Another Number on the Scorecard: Eastman’s Davis, 87, Regularly Shooting His Age on the Course

  • Dick Davis hits his ball out of a sand trap during a round of golf at Eastman Golf Links in Grantham on Thursday. Eastman shot his age twice in the last two weeks.  Valley News — Sarah Priestap

    Dick Davis hits his ball out of a sand trap during a round of golf at Eastman Golf Links in Grantham on Thursday. Eastman shot his age twice in the last two weeks. Valley News — Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dick Davis waits for one of his golf partners to finish his swing at the Eastman Golf Links in Grantham, N.H., on May 15, 2014. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Dick Davis waits for one of his golf partners to finish his swing at the Eastman Golf Links in Grantham, N.H., on May 15, 2014. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dick Davis hits his ball out of a sand trap during a round of golf at Eastman Golf Links in Grantham on Thursday. Eastman shot his age twice in the last two weeks.  Valley News — Sarah Priestap
  • Dick Davis waits for one of his golf partners to finish his swing at the Eastman Golf Links in Grantham, N.H., on May 15, 2014. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

Grantham — Despite suffering mildly from arthritis and occasionally having difficulty seeing his golf balls in flight, Eastman resident and octogenarian Dick Davis considers his health to be generally good. On the links, his scores are plenty healthy as well.

Davis, 87, recently shot his age — twice, in back-to-back rounds — at Eastman Golf Links. A regular Tuesday and Thursday golfer, Davis shot 42 on the front nine and 45 on the back for an 18-hole 87 on May 8 to pull off the unique feat, then did it again last Tuesday by shooting 45-42—87.

They were far from Davis’s best scores at Eastman. A part-time resident of the community since the 1980s, he’s won the club’s Class A championship tournament five times and its senior tournament on multiple occasions. Just last year, he shot a 72 here. Yet shooting his age is nonetheless a pretty cool accomplishment, if only for the novelty.

“It’s never something you’re aiming to do,” said Davis while firing away at the driving range prior to his round with three friends Thursday. “You play like you play and if it happens, it happens. When it works out that way, it’s pretty neat.”

It’s also pretty difficult on a course featuring numerous hilly fairways and doglegs. Eastman has a slope rating of 68.4 and overall rating of 125 for men from the yellow tees from which Davis shoots.

Davis’ deft club selection and placement helps compensate for the course’s quirks. Of course, the familiarity he’s developed with it over the years has certainly helped.

Third-year assistant course professional Kevin Wright has watched Davis enough to be impressed.

“He’s knowledgeable about the course like no other and always picks the right club,” said Wright, 23. “He knows all of the little nuances of the course, and there a lot of them here. For example, on hole (No.) 4 the fairway drifts right, but he knows it’s not smart to go right because (the green) in on the left. He knows you don’t have to go long off the tee on a hole like that. That’s why you see him getting better scores than guys half his age.”

Davis usually beats his peers, too. He golfed Thursday with fellow retirees Ralph Hough, Carl Andrysiak and Larry White, winning with a score of 86.

Andrysiak, 73, admires Davis’s play and thinks he’s a long way from shooting his own age.

“If I live to be 110 and my game stays the same, then I might be able to shoot my age,” he said. “I’ve only been golfing for six years. I’ve still got a long way to go.”

White, 85, also enjoys watching Davis at work.

“You see him tee off, and most of the time it’s right down the middle,” he said. “Then it’s one chip, one putt and it’s in.”

Naturally, Davis is never satisfied with his own game. On May 8, he made par on seven holes. Tuesday, he parred on five of them. “I only had a single one-putt,” the lanky Davis said with a slow shake of the noggin. “I had three or four three-putts. If I putted better, I would have shot something like 81. But it’s harder to stay steady as I get older.”

His all-around game was more than adequately steady during the first few holes Thursday, hitting par on three of the first four. He reached the green on his second shot and two-putted for par on the 345-yard first hole, then wisely drove left on the dogleg second — finding the rough, but staying out of the woods. After misfiring and finding the opposite-side rough on his approach shot, Davis recovered and two-putted for bogey.

He parred the next two holes, including a one-putt on a hilly fourth that Davis called the hardest on the course. “It’s not very often that happens here,” he said.

It’s also not very usual for octogenarians to shoot as well as Davis, as Wright attested.

“The joke around here is that guys try to shoot their weight, not their age,” the assistant pro said. “Guys get a little older and say, ‘I’m not going to try to hit it very far.’ A lot of guys are happy to shoot in the 100s, and then you get someone like Dick who’s consistently in the 80s. It’s not easy to do.”

Davis also plays tennis twice a week and still takes pride in the Eastman doubles championship he and his wife, Pat, captured together in the 1980s.

“We’re a pretty good team,” Davis said. “We’ve surprised a lot of people over the years who probably thought they were going to beat us pretty easily.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.