by Lorne Rubenstein, featured in Golfworld.com
“On Monday Jan. 13, the day Ed Ervasti turned 100, he planned to hit balls at Turtle Creek Club in Tequesta, Fla., his winter home. I was to join him. But when my longtime friend called me around noon, he ruefully admitted he was too tired. The club had held a reception for him two days earlier, when he played nine holes. The next day it honored him again with a four-hour-brunch, “My ass is dragging” he said.
Hearing such a phrase from a 100-year-old man quickly eased my disappointment. Ed’s lively earthiness would seem to belong to someone much younger, and so would his ageless golf game. “If I play 300 times a year, I break my age 299 times,” he told me a few years ago. “The weather was probably lousy the time I didn’t.”
There’s a good possibility Ervasti has been the best very old golfer who ever lived. According to Golf Digest, Ed, a native of Minneapolis who moved to Canada in 1957, holds the record for a golfer beating his age by the most strokes, shooting 72 at age 93 at Sunningdale G&CC near his home in London, Ont. He’s been very good for a very long time, winning the 1949 Michigan Amateur, the 1978 and 1983 North and South Senior Amateur, the Canadian Seniors’ Golf Association championship six times and the club championship at London Hunt and CC 17 times.
But what really makes Ed a legend is that the older he has gotten, the more he has separated himself from his remaining peers. He estimates that he has shot his age or better some 3,000 times. If he makes it to 104, he’ll have a chance to become the oldest age-shooter ever.
When Ed was 92, I played with him at London Hunt. The previous winter he had shot 80-80-84–a cumulative 32 shots under his age–to win a tournament in Florida.
As I always have in our rounds together, I studied Ed. He didn’t “hit” the ball, he smoothly swung through it and played the game with an enviable ease. When he holed a tricky pitch, he scoffed at the praise, saying, “Anybody can do that.”
“I really never remember a great shot,” Ed says. “I talk about the people I’ve met and played with. Golf is an individual game, but you don’t play it alone. I’ve played with five Masters winners, seven U.S. Open champions, eight U.S. Amateur champions and 10 PGA Championship winners. I’ve played with Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Bryon Nelson.”
Ed believes the key to his longevity has been staying in motion. His daily ritual in London for years was to walk a mile to a local Tim Hortons coffee shop and pick up some Timbits–doughnut holes. On the way back home, he’d stop on the bank of a river and put the Timbits on tees, then wait for gophers to eat them. Two miles a day, every day. Until a couple of years ago, he drove himself to Florida every winter, where he lives in a condo beside the first hole at Turtle Creek. Until he was 85, he walked while playing.
About a week before his birthday, I watched Ed work on his game. Jim Hand, the 1984-1985 USGA president who would turn a mere 97 the next day, also watched. Ed was still swinging smoothly, consistently sending out 150–yard drives. John, his 58-year-old son who works in New York, was visiting. They had practiced in the morning for two hours and repeated the exercise in the afternoon. They played nine holes, Ed shooting 48.
When John, himself a top senior amateur, was about to speak at the Turtle Creek reception, his father joked, “Oh, oh, I’m going to regret this.”
But, of course, Ed was soon given a standing ovation. Everyone in the room faced him. He waved. I might have been mistaken, but I believe I detected a few tears in his bright eyes. I felt a few myself.
** I have prepared this commentary to give you my thoughts on various investment alternatives and considerations which may be relevant to your portfolio. This commentary reflects my opinions alone, and may not reflect the views of National Bank Financial Group. In expressing these opinions, I bring my best judgment and professional experience from the perspective of someone who surveys a broad range of investments. Therefore, this report should be viewed as a reflection of my informed opinions rather than analyses produced by the Research Department of National Bank Financial **