Senior Olympics golf a hit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 1, 2002


LULING – Senior olympians from five local parishes converged on the golf course to compete for medals and 2002 Bayou-River district games honors. Approximately 24 area residents, age 55 and older, grabbed their clubs and drove for a position under par at the Willowdale Golf Club in Luling. The golf match is one of more than 27 different sports among the Bayou-River district games schedule. The top finishers not only receive medals, but are then qualified for the annual Louisiana Senior Olympic games held in Baton Rouge from Sept. 21-Nov. 2.

“I give out, I guess 2,000 medals each year. Anyone is welcome and anyone who wins here qualifies for the state competition,” said Lenny Graver, who was in charge of the golfing event. “We have close to 400 seniors participating this year overall and it continues to grow. We love our seniors and more and more are welcome, even just to watch.”

Besides watching or competing for gold, interested seniors can participate in clinics to try the particular event before entering. At every event, medical personnel are present for added safety. Food and refreshments are also on hand at all events except for golf and bowling Recreational activities are also offered under umbrella of Bayou-River games, including balloon bursts, bait casting, the bean bag toss and arts and crafts for individuals who enjoy slightly less competition.

“About 60 percent of the games are to qualify for state and regional games, the other 40 percent are just for fun,” said Graver. He described overwhelming support both the recreational games and the olympic games have received from family and officials in all five of the involved parishes, and especially from St. Charles Parish Head of Recreation Department Larry Matson and Parish President Albert Laque.

“I think it’s great senior citizens get involved and have the opportunity to be involved in good, healthy competition,” explained Matson. “You meet people from other parishes and enjoy the activities, today it’s golf, next it’s track and field.”

“This is my first time and I will be back,” said Chauvin resident Charles Neil. “My friend called and asked if I wanted to join. He said you have to be at least 55, that’s right up my alley. So I am here to enjoy myself and play a good game of golf.

“Everybody is like a family out here and still the competition is big,” Graver said. “People in wheelchairs come out and we tell them ‘we’ll help you stand up’ if they want. Just don’t be locked up in your house.”