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September 25, 2013

South Carolina man, 95, shoots his age for 1,000th time

Posted at 10:10 AM by Mike Walker |

Leo-luken_640
Longevity and low scores.

We all dream of both. Some of us get neither.

Leo Luken is a lucky man.

On Tuesday the 95-year-old Hilton Head resident shot 92 at the George Fazio Golf Course at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, the 1,000 time he has shot his age or better. Here's the story from Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort:

Described by his playing companions as “humble, gracious and fiercely competitive,” Luken still carries a 21 handicap and typically plays three days a week on the George Fazio and Robert Trent Jones courses at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort where he resides, typically shooting his age or better about two out of three times.

“My [playing] partners told me I would have to swim across the lagoon on [the par-3] 17th if I hit it in the water,” said Luken following his historic round Tuesday. “On my previous attempt at Jones I hooked one out of bounds on No. 17.”

Even more amazing is that Luken didn't even take up golf until he was 45 years old, though he had a record of athletic excellence:

What would seem like an amazing accomplishment for most anyone else will go down as another notch in the belt for the 95-year-old Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort resident, who didn’t take up golf until he was 45 years old and first shot his age at the age of 71 with 68 being his best-ever round in Fort Wayne, Ind.

At one point in his life, Luken was arguably the world’s best fast-pitch softball hurler, using a pitch clocked at more than 100 miles per hour to help win 53 straight games from 1944-46 for the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. Nicknamed “Leo the Lion-Hearted,” his 511 total wins helped earn Luken a spot in both the Kentucky and Indiana Sports Halls of Fame.

Following Luken’s historic accomplishment Tuesday, he was more interested in talking about his family. Luken and his wife, Mickey, celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary this spring. The pair taught dance for three hours a night for 30 years to put their children through college. A daughter, Lisa, went to Purdue where she played golf and was chosen as the school’s Student Athlete of the Decade. Now, one of his grandsons is attending Purdue.

And, yes, 77-year-old Gary Player is jealous. Player still is extremely competitive in his golf and fitness -- he recently posed nude for ESPN The Magazine -- but eight years ago Luken got the better of Player at the Shoot Your Age Championship at The Villages, Fla.

“Yeah, Gary Player thought I was lying,” Leo said. “Before we teed off the first day down at the championship, he was walking around introducing himself and asking guys how many times they’d shot their age. One guy said twelve, and another said thirty. When he got to me I said five hundred twenty nine, which was the number at that time. Player threw up arms and said, ‘Get outta here.’” Then with a grin, Leo said, “The next day I made it five-thirty and won the tournament.”

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