MOUNT VERNON — Local golfer Doris Jacobs has been going strong since John F. Kennedy was in the White House. Since 1961, the Mount Vernon resident has been a fixture in the annual Knox County Women’s Tournament.
Unfortunately, she was not able to participate as a golfer on the 50th anniversary of her first appearance in the Knox County Women’s Tournament. She had to sit out the 2010 edition of the tournament in Apple Valley in August after a freak accident earlier in the year.
“At the Utica Ice Cream Festival, I went to step on a wagon to go up to crafts,” said Jacobs. “On the second step there was a steel plate and I slipped. I got 20 stitches in my leg. It was the first time I haven’t been able to play in the tournament since 1990.”
She was on hand to receive a special award.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” said Jacobs. “The club in Apple Valley invited me to come. I think it was very nice of them to do that. I just hate to miss this year, but it was one of those things.”
That will not stop her from playing in 2011 — 51 years after she first teed off against Knox County’s top female golfers.
“Next year, I’ll be another year older,” said Jacobs who turns 87 in December. “I’ve always enjoyed golf.”
For Jacobs, golf was a love affair from the day she was introduced to the game.
“I used to bowl,” explained Jacobs. “Then, I learned to play golf and then I played more than my husband did. He’s the one who got me started in golf. I’ve always liked to go to Irish Hills.”
“I was in the second of third flight in ‘61,” recalled Jacobs, who finished first in the first flight in 1967’s women’s tourney. “I didn’t start playing until 1958. Three years later, they started the county tournament. That year, Mayor (Phillip) Maugher donated the trophies for the girls. That’s the way this got started.”
Jacobs proudly held up her original scorecard of that first-ever tournament. She has played at every venue, where the tournament has been held over the years. She calls Irish Hills her home course.
“Now, all the clubs are in rotation every year,” said Jacobs. “Irish Hills had the first one. It’s been very interesting. I’ve seen people come and go. They’ve moved out of town or passed away over the years, but it’s a very great group of girls.”
Her golf card also uncovered more memories.
“It says here that I was in second flight,” Jacobs said, smiling. “I had a 58-55 but I had a stupid 12 on a single hole. Of course, that was only three years after I learned to play golf. That was on hole seven. That’s a dog leg. It starts out by the road and goes back east and makes a turn in. I don’t know what happened that day.”
The most important thing is the friendships that Jacobs has made through the years.
Oh, so many of them,” said Jacobs. “I’d hate to slight anybody by naming anybody because there’s been so many of them. The girls are great to me and I enjoy being with them — even off of the golf course. Some have moved away and you lose track of people over that many years of playing golf. They’ve moved on, but I was born in Mount Vernon and Knox County. This is really home to me. I’ve never lived any place else.”
As the tournament has grown, so has the competitiveness although participation has dropped slightly in recent years.
“Several years ago, I think it was 1995, we had 80 in the tournament,” recalled Jacobs who was one of the people in charge of the tournament at the time. “It was something, being in charge of all those women.”
Jacobs has seen participation in local women’s golf in general, including local club membership, drop off since 2000.
“Back in the 70’s and the 60’s, you had good membership,” said Jacobs. “Now, they don’t have enough. Where they’ve gone or why they’re not coming out or why they wouldn’t learn to play when they get older or married? I can’t answer that. They have other things to do. I think there are less golfers, overall.”
Even golf leagues have had to downsize, due to troubles keeping regular players as people seem to be busier and busier.
“They were having to call the subs to play every week,” said Jacobs. “Sometimes, they couldn’t find somebody, so they forfeited. You couldn’t get people to play regularly on that basis. Maybe they were sick or something, but they forfeited for their team and that’s bad.”
To ask someone, who has been having so much fun for so long, it may be unfair to ask them what their favorite moment is — especially when the fun isn’t over.
“There are so many things,” said Jacobs. “Over that many years, you forget the things that really happened to you, back then. There are things that stay with you, but there are too many. Many things leave you because you have met new people and you have different experiences with them.”