Swinging through retirement: Senior proves it's never to late to pick up golf
Shirley Hartmann is proof that you’re never too old to pick up a new hobby.
A resident of Vi at Bentley Village, a continuing care retirement community in North Naples, Hartmann took up golf three years ago at age 85. Three years later, she not only is still playing, but is chairperson of the community’s Ladies Nine-Hole Golf Association.
“When I moved here (5 years ago), all the ladies that I knew were playing golf,” Hartmann, 87, said. “I always thought, ‘Boy, I wish I could do that.’ My daughter stopped playing golf and she said, ‘Here, take my clubs,’ so I decided to try it out. It took a long time before I was confident enough to go out with the other ladies and play.”
In the meantime, Hartmann worked tirelessly at improving. She practiced putting in her living room, tapping the ball from various distances into a cup while her Maltese-Poodle mix, Brando, watched with interest.
She also took lessons from Bentley Village golf pro Stan Geer, who showed her the ins and outs of the golf stroke.
“She’s one of those rare students that actually listens,” Geer joked. “As you can see, she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She’s super nice and a very hard worker, a real pleasure to work with. Whatever I say, she takes it and does it. She does lots of work on the putting green, lots of work chipping. A lot of sweat equity on the golf course.”
After about a year of work, she began to play on the community’s course with her friends. And she immediately fell in love with the sport.
“I found out I was pretty good at it, so that always helps,” Hartmann said. “Lately, I’m not doing as good. I can still putt. I can’t drive though, it always goes off to the right.”
Although she says her game isn’t where she wants it to be right now, she’s come to the same realization countless other golfers have learned before her.
“You can hit bad shot after bad shot, but it’s that one good shot you hit that keeps you coming back,” she said. “But hey, when you watch the pros, even they mess up. You watch and say, ‘Hey, they’re doing what I just did.’ It’s a tough game, but a fun game.”
Geer said Hartmann is an inspiration for anybody out there who thinks they’re too old to try something new.
“It doesn’t apply to just golf, but to anything else,” he said. “What, do you want to sit around on your couch all day and become old? Who wants that? Go out and do something.”
That’s kind of the unofficial mantra of Vi at Bentley Village. Although the community features assisted living facilities, most of the residents live independently.
“It’s all about living well, mind, body and spirit,” said Pam Fultz, community relations manager. “Shirley is representative of all that. She’s proof you’re never too old to do anything you set your mind to.”
Hartmann, a native of New Jersey, says the community has rejuvenated her in many ways. She is amazed at the almost small-town feeling she gets walking around the neighborhood each morning with her dog Brando.
“Everybody is like one big family here,” she said. “Wherever you go, people say hello, even the guys doing the work on the lawn. Everybody waves. It’s really like your own hometown. And there isn’t anything you need that they don’t have. It’s already here. I love it.”