82-year-old Bonner Springs resident shoots under his age at Sunflower Hills
In the game of inches, Gene Reynolds also has the years.
He has about as many memories on the course as there are dimples on a golf ball and the avid golfer has no intentions of putting away his clubs anytime soon.
Besides, why should he?
Reynolds got his first hole in one around 15 years ago in Salina, about 115 yards out, and more recently, he shot three strokes under his age during a May 22 Senior League event at Sunflower Hills Golf Course in Bonner Springs.
At 82 years old, Reynolds continues to still get in at least three rounds of golf a week at the Sunflower Hills. Something he says his wife of 60 years never complains about.
“She’s been pretty good about it,” he said.
Despite these feats, Reynolds remained modest about his talents and the fact that he shot about 10 strokes under his average score that day.
“Everything comes together some times and everything comes to pieces,” Reynolds said of his score and the game. “That’s what I like about golf, you can always get better.”
And get better he has.
Reynolds started working on his game more than 50 years ago, when he picked up his first club after returning home being stationed in California. His brother played quite a bit back then, which prompted Reynolds to join him.
When he was a member of the city council, he and some of the other members would suspend talking about city business and get in some rounds of golf.
“There are about five of us who have probably played together for close to 60 years now,“ Reynolds said.
Shooting one’s age
Before Sunflower Hills was built in the 1977, Reynolds would travel to surrounding area golf courses to hit the greens.
But since then, he and his troupe can be found in Bonner Springs for their regular Thursday game, on Wednesdays for the Senior League and on most weekends
He says what keeps him knocking away at the balls is the age-friendliness of the sport.
“It’s about the only thing you can play when you get to be as old as I am,” he said. “I didn’t notice it at first, but it’s funny how the years just drop you down.
“But I have always tried to stayed active,” he said.
Not just with golf either, because Reynolds bowled for many years until he had to have both of his knees operated on and replaced within the past 10 years.
“It doesn’t bother me when I’m on the course,“ he said. “The only bad thing is they get a little stiff every once in a while.”
While he says his long game has suffered at the hands of time and age, he still remains consistent with his chips and putts.
On what Reynolds calls a good day, he shoots around 88 but he also dips into the mid-90s. For seniors at Sunflower Hills, the rating is 68.4 and the slope is 123.
Regardless of any health ailments or time constraints, Reynolds remains a familiar face to those in local golf circles.
Sunflower Hills clubhouse manager Chuck Ettinger said he sees Reynolds on the course at least three to four times a week. Ettinger has known Reynolds since the course opened and will be the first to highlight his accomplishments, especially the most recent score he put up.
“It doesn’t happen very often that you shoot your age,” Ettinger said. “That’s pretty tough and pretty astounding to do at 82.
“He’s definitely a go-getter,” he said.
‘I don’t want to quit’
Being on the go is something that Reynolds has been familiar with since he returned from the service.
Born and raised in Bonner Springs, Reynolds returned home after his military stint and went to work at an automotive dealership in 1954.
When the family sold the dealership, Reynolds continued working for them throughout the years before eventually joining up with K & E Investments, Inc where he continues to work today.
He just turned 82 on April 14 and as the days and years continue to pass, he says he feels pretty good and that retirement isn’t a concept that has crossed his mind.
“I really like the people (at my job) and I’ve known them all my life,” he said. “I really enjoy doing it and I don’t want to quit. I get to play golf whenever I want.”
Although Reynolds has worn multiple hats in the community throughout the years, serving as a two-term mayor from 1973 to 1977, a city councilman and a member on various boards, these days he’s content with the Sunflower Hills Golf Board, which he’s been on the duration of its existence, and the Bonner Springs planning appeals board.
Besides, if he were doing any more, he wouldn’t have time for his second love, behind his wife of course.
“I just love to play,“ he said sitting in his office looking outside the window. “You’re playing against yourself and you can play at and with any age.”