glen “Lefty” Cline and Gerald Stethem continue to define Father Time.
The two golfers are in their mid-90s and continue to meet on a weekly basis playing a round of nine holes of golf. Unless the forecast calls for rain, these two good friends have been playing partners for the better part of 40 years.
“We worked together at BFGoodrich then Gerald got transferred to Akron – we never lost contact and we’ve remained good friends,” said the 95-year-old Cline, who was raised on a farm in Graysville and now lives in Oak Grove. “I enjoy playing golf with somebody and enjoy playing with somebody that don’t get mad. If one of us has a bad day, it’s just a bad day.”
The majority of their rounds during the golf season take place at Pioneer Family Golf Course in Marietta. In fact, they played a round on the first day the facility opened April 28, 2000.
From his home in Canton, Stethem begins his drive to Marietta at the crack of dawn. The two meet at the golf course then they cap the day with a meal at their favorite local restaurant. Stethem returns to Canton and they do it all over again the following week.
“We know where the best places to eat,” said Stethem, who turns 95 in October. He also grew up on a farm in Long Bottom, south of Reedsville. “We talk about our golf and solve all the world’s problems.
“I never thought I would be 95, let alone golfing at 95. My mother lived to be 114, so maybe that had something to do with it. I’ve tried to take good care of myself over the years.”
Watching the two gentlemen make their way around the course, they won’t win any long-drive contests. But they do get respectable distance off the tee and on the fairways. More importantly, their shots are typically straight.
They don’t take any time for practice shots. They approach the ball, take a brief glance at their target and swing. Between riding a cart and wasting little time between shots, their pace of play is impressive.
Cline and Stethem like to keep tabs on their score at the end of each round. However, the experience is all about spending time on the links and enjoying each other’s company.
“Lefty and I come from similar backgrounds, so we are like family,” Stethem said. “Golf has kind of pulled us together. I just enjoy playing golf with him.”
Cline’s wife (Ruth) of 70-plus years passed away, but he has two sons in the area to check on him. A while back, he gave them a scare when they couldn’t locate him.
“They called the house and didn’t get no answer,” Cline said. “They called my cell and there was no answer. One of them went to the house and saw that the car was gone.
“They are on me for just about everything. They are overcautious, but I appreciate it.”
Stethem’s second wife (Ula Faye) of 53 years passed away, but he has a step-daughter who keeps tabs on him.
“My step-daughter checks up on me – in fact, I have to call her when I leave Canton to golf and call her when I get down here.”
The two gentlemen have had their share of laughs. Stethem even witnessed one of Cline’s three career holes-in-one when they played the Wilkshire course in Zoar, Ohio on Oct. 17, 1990. Cline used a 4-iron from 207 yards.
“Lefty hits a long ball,” said Stethem, who owns one career hole-in-one. “We didn’t even see it go in. People down at the hole told us it went in. It was a thrill. I’ll bet very few people have had a hole in one on that hole.”
“When we got back to the clubhouse, they never put his name on the paper. All they did was give him a sleeve of golf balls.”
Neither Cline nor Stethem dabbled much in athletics as a youth. They were too busy working at the farm. Golf didn’t become a hobby until both were in their 40s.
“My oldest had played a little golf and encouraged me to go to Lakeside Golf Course and play golf,” Cline said. “From then on, that was history.”
Stethem’s son from his second marriage was drawn to the sport at an early age. One day when his son’s friend was unable to meet for a round of golf, his father stepped in.
“I was on the bag for my son – on the second hole, he said, ‘Dad, why don’t you hit one?’ and that’s how it began,” Stethem said.
Ask either of the two individuals how this friendship and the golf that accompanies the connection has lasted for such a long period of time, and the answer is simple.
“Lefty is just a nice guy – what else can I say?” Stethem said. “It don’t make any difference what we have on the scorecard. We like to score well, but a lot of times we don’t. We just like to play golf.”
As for the number of years still ahead for this partnership, only the Man upstairs knows the answer.
“I never thought I would live this long – playing a lot of golf helped,” Cline said.
Contact Kerry Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org