Old Codger's

Almost every morning at 8 a.,m., Fore-Way Golf Course is home to a group of golfers that call themselves the Old Codgers. There are about 17 in the group and between 9 and 12 play each day. The group of Friday, June 29, consisted of (left to right) Howard Haake, Vince Westendorf, Harry Riley, Merle Ragan, Dan Overbeck, Warren Schlechte, Bob Rosengarten, Ralph Kortte and Jim McDonald.

By Steve Raymond

News Report Staff

It was about 7:30 Friday morning.

They started straggling in one at a time.

Some arrived early, drank a little coffee and visited with others.

Some pulled in at the last second.

It didn’t matter.

It was another day and another chance to play golf.

Something the Old Codger’s Group has been doing for many years.

Clark Steele was the first to arrive. Dan Overbeck and Jim McDonald followed. The daily tee time for the Old Codger’s is 8 a.m. By that time, Harry Riley, Merle Ragan, Ralph Kortte, Vince Westendorf, Bob Rosengarten and Howard Haake had clubs in hand and were ready to attack the Fore-Way Golf Course once again.

And just before teeing off, Warren Schlechte pulled in and joined the group.

They never know who will show up, but there are normally between 9 and 12 players each day. Others that play on a regular basis are Dallas Kingery, Dick Huelskoetter, Pat Schumacher, Dave Stuckey, Jim Frost, Nicholas Capezzuto and Herb Cunningham.

“There’s nowhere else to go this early,” Kortte pointed out.

Some are semi-retired, while most are fully retired.

“I work three days and I play golf three days,” McDonald said.

The Old Codger’s have been a mainstay at Fore-Way for somewhere between 15 and 20 years. They play six days a week – Monday through Saturday.

They draw for teams every day.

On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, everyone plays their own ball and the best score on each hole is recorded as the team score.

Thursday and Friday the group plays a scramble.

All players know one thing for sure – they can’t forget their money. The “entry fee” is a quarter for the regular days and a full dollar to play in the scramble.

The winning team each day either collects all the quarters or all the dollars. Despite high stakes like these, none of the players were worried about their “winnings” putting them into a higher tax bracket.

“Oh yeah, we play for big money,” Overbeck joked. “When I first started playing with the group, I thought I’d have to take out a loan to pay for all those quarters. We Old Codgers take those quarters seriously.”

As can be imagined, there is a fair amount of talk, teasing and razzing during every round.

“Some golf etiquette is observed, but we also like to razz the group ahead of us or behind us,” Overbeck admitted. “That’s just part of golf.”

Anybody is welcome to join the group. You have to be at least 60 years old, however. About half of the current group is close to or in their 80s. Riley is the elder statesman of the group at 94 years old.

Kingery and Frost are regarded as the longest hitters of the group, while Riley is considered the best putter.

Westendorf, Steele, Schlechte, Riley and Hoelskoetter have each recorded holes-in-one during the years.

“We have four or five A players in the group, but on any given day there are others that play very well, too. You just never know,” Overbeck explained. “Most are established golfers and a few struggle. But with this group, it doesn’t matter.”

The camaraderie, competition and friendship were all mentioned as reasons why the players show up day after day.

“I don’t think this group is going to stop,” Overbeck said. “I hope it continues until I get to be 93 or 94 years old. We all like the structure. It’s a carefree, casual game. Everybody plays golf and loves it.”