Scoring below his age is no big deal for the affable and stylishly-dressed Jimmy Jones, who plays golf nearly every day at various courses, and usually walks the course. It’s a rare day when he does not break his age.
Jimmy Jones knew he was playing a great round of golf, but had no idea it would set off a search to determine whether it was a world record for shooting the most strokes below a player’s age.
Jones, 86, had his mind on the skins game he was competing in with his playing partners at Riverbend Golf Course in Kent on June 30.
“After the round, they started making a big deal about it, saying, ‘Jimmy, you just shot a 68,’ ” Jones said. “But I didn’t pay no mind to it.”
Not only did Jones collect $26 in his skins game, he had one of the best rounds relative to age in history, although whether it’s a world record is still a question.
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According to the Guinness World Records website, the record for most strokes below a person’s age is 17, accomplished in 2001 and 2007, which would make Jones’ feat a record.
But Golf Digest has recognized the record-holder as Canadian senior golfing legend Ed Ervasti, who shot a 72 when he was 93 and once estimated that he shot below his age more than 3,000 times.
Scoring below his age is no big deal for the affable, stylishly dressed Jones, who plays golf nearly every day at various courses, and usually walks the course. It’s a rare day when he does not break his age. He has no idea how many times he has shot below his age. More than 2,000?
“At least,” he said.
Jones has a handicap index of 7.8. That’s only slightly off his best-ever handicap of 6.0. That was 46 years ago.
“It stays between 7 and 9,” Jones said of his handicap. “When it gets close to 10, it always comes down.”
His playing partners marvel at Jones’ flexibility, with one chiming in that he wasn’t as flexible in high school as Jones is now.
“It’s not unusual for Jimmy to drive it 270 yards,” said Pete Petersen, the general manager at Riverbend, who often plays with Jones.
While genetics might be on Jones’ side, he also works hard to keep his golf game at a very high level. He practices after every round, and then usually goes to the gym and lifts weights for a couple of hours.
“I like to practice and I work at it,” said Jones, who works as a marshal at Riverbend on Fridays, allowing him to play for free. “Most people don’t like to practice, but I like to practice.”
As good as Jones’ round on June 20 was – six birdies, 10 pars and two bogeys – it could have been even better. He missed a five-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. Not that he complained for long because he had already holed a number of lengthy putts.
“I was in that zone where when it gets on the green, you think you’re going to hit it in,” he said. “Then you come out the next day, and you can’t make a gosh-darn thing. But that’s golf.”
Jones can’t remember a time when he wasn’t golfing, making his own clubs from sticks growing up in Arkansas, and making holes to shoot at. He also spent time caddying.
“We were bare-footed because we couldn’t afford shoes, and they had sand greens, and boy did they get hot in the 90-degree Arkansas weather,” he said.
Jones served in the military after World War II, then he moved to the Seattle area in 1950 and got a job at Boeing. He retired in 1996. That left him even more time to play the game he loves.
Jones, who shot a 71 last week at Riverbend, said he has never been impressed by what he has done or given it much thought. But those around him are sure impressed.
“He’s just a really fun guy, and we all want to play like Jimmy when we get older,” Petersen said.