Emil Yuckert always considered golf a game for old people and darn fools.
At 94, the Sun Citian knows he personifies at least half of that statement.
“I played all kinds of sports when I was younger, but I didn’t start playing golf until I was in my 50s,” said Yuckert, an Oregon native. “I don’t know why I started, but I did, and then I couldn’t stop.”
Yuckert is no fool — and he’s a pretty darn good golfer.
The retired truck driver represents one of the two oldest players in this year’s field at the Sun City Men’s Octogenarian golf tournament.
While there’s another 94-year-old player in the tournament, Yuckert stands alone as a contender for two titles at the event for players 80 years and older.
Yuckert moved into contention despite Monday rain showers and high winds which forced some players to withdraw from the event at Quail Run Golf Course.
Yuckert shot a 7-over-par 38 to grab a share of the first-round lead with Jean Cote in Flight C.
Yuckert’s 38 also put him in second place in the 10-player flight for golfers 90 years and older. Nonagenarian rookie Ken Cornish, 90, who won the overall title in 2003, led that division with an opening-round 36.
“My round should have been even better,” Yuckert said. “I had a real short putt for par at No. 6 and I missed it. Then I missed the bogey putt coming back and settled for a double-bogey.”
Yuckert and the rest of the field expected better weather conditions for Friday’s final round. While results were unavailable at press time, it’s a good bet Yuckert earned some tournament hardware, which will make a nice addition to his home near Lakes East golf course.
June Yuckert will be waiting for her husband.
The couple have been married for 70 years, spending the last 32 in Sun City.
While June doesn’t golf, she remains Emil’s biggest fan.
“I don’t like to brag about him, but then I can’t help myself,” June Yuckert said. “We’ve had our share of knocks, but we never let them get us down. That’s what love is all about.”
June Yuckert continues to battle Parkinson’s disease.
Emil Yuckert suffers numbness in both hands and will have surgery for carpal-tunnel syndrome following the Octogenarian tournament.
“When you play golf, nothing hurts,” Emil Yuckert said. “At least, that’s what I tell my wife.”
Yuckert played golf three times a week when he moved to Sun City from Oregon in the late 1970s. As a deference to age, he has reduced his golf schedule to once a week and avoids the regulation courses, sticking exclusively to the shorter, executive courses.
“I’ve never been a long hitter of the golf ball, but I’m lucky if I hit a 150-yard drive these days,” Yuckert said. “I want to continue to play golf as long as I can.”
Yuckert has always enjoyed sports and participated in all kinds of athletics in his youth.
One of his favorite passions was baseball.
“I was too short for basketball, but I thought I’d play baseball until I was 100,” Yuckert said. “I wasn’t a good ballplayer, but I enjoyed the game.”
He even considered a pugilistic career — until he met his wife.
“I wanted to be a boxer, then I met June,” Yuckert said with a grin. “Then, I decided to be a lover.”
Rich Bolas is the managing editor of the Daily News-Sun. He may be reached at 623-876-2523 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.