In 1957 Ken Earls played golf for the first time.
He hasn’t been able to quit since.
“I’ve played golf since I was a young lieutenant in the Marine Corps,” he said. “Another lieutenant got me started. He asked me to play, and I said, ‘I don’t play golf. That’s for rich people.’”
But he played anyway, and it was a life-changing experience.
“They both shot in the 70s and I shot 103,” he recalled. “I said, ‘That doesn’t happen to me.’
“I had a club in my hand ever since until I got down to a 2 handicap.”
Earls now lives in deCordova Bend Estates and is 81 years old as of early May. Among his many feats in golf, shooting his age is not included.
He shoots WELL BELOW his age.
Earls recently shot 71 – not once, but twice. He celebrated his birthday by posting that score the first time and for good measure did it again a week later.
“Most golfers know that beating your age is a great accomplishment, but to shoot 10 strokes less than your age within just a few days is very remarkable,” said his daughter, Lisa Conley, a professional golfer.
Earls’ family is quite involved in golf. His son-in-law Steve Conley is a retired professional, and son Dennis works for a golf company.
And Earls’ wife Doris is also a retired professional – and yes, she helped him fine-tune his game.
“My friends said it wasn’t fair that I could get a free lesson,” joked Earls. “I said, ‘Are you kidding? I’ve been paying for these for 60 years.’”
Now he and Doris play regularly together. On a weekly basis they play with Lisa and Steve.
“We’ve had a great life with golf,” he said. “We’ve traveled all over, Hawaii, Bermuda.”
Doris, in fact, is a Master Life Member of the LPGA Teaching and Club Division. She still teaches at age 77.
“They both love the game of golf, live golf, talk golf,” said Lisa.
Earls has one hole-in-one in his life, at Mission Hills Country Club in California on Jan. 12, 1989.
“My daughter’s had six or seven, or maybe eight,” he tried to recall. “She’s had more than all of us put together.”
Eighteen years ago Earls had a ruptured colon that nearly took his life. He also had a knee replacement and hip replacement that slowed him down – but only for a bit.
With the help of Doris he was back out on the course. And while he doesn’t compete in big tournaments any more, he still likes to best his friends in a friendly wager.
“We compete for big quarter bets,” he said with a grin. “I can’t let those guys take my money.”
His military career spanned 22 years, including several tours in Vietnam. He received two Bronze Star Medals and retired in 1977.
Or so they thought.
“He’s had two or three careers since then, and we still can’t keep him down,” said Lisa.
“He’d work today if someone would hire him.”
He still does his own yard work, walks 2-3 miles each day – except for two or three golf days – and works out four days a week.
And, if you ask him about shooting his age, he’ll answer humbly, “The secret is getting old enough.
“When I was 60 I never shot my age.”
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