Shooting His Age Is Easy for Ray Moore
Ray Moore was a 9-year-old country boy growing up in Mansfield, Pa., when the bug bit him.
“Somebody gave me a hickory shaft 5-iron and a couple of golf balls,” he said of that fateful day in 1920. “I would take that club and go down in the pasture and hit balls to some stakes I had stuck in the ground. I got pretty good with that hickory shaft.”
Now, a little more than 80 years later, the 90-year-old has swapped the hickory shaft for graphite and the stakes in the pasture for the manicured greens of Seven Lakes Country Club. But his passion for the game is still just as strong.
Moore, who has pretty much evolved into a legend in the minds of other Seven Lakes members, shot his age for the first time 20 years ago, when at the age of 70 he posted a 69.
Since then he’s shot his age or better 598 times. And he’s got many of the scorecards to back up the claim.
In fact, on Wednesday, the morning of the interview for this article, he came in off the Seven Lakes course grinning with an 88 — number 598.
“It was close today, but I made it,” he said, pointing to the card. “I used to have a shoebox full of cards, but somewhere in our moving it got lost.”
Moore has done a lot of moving in his time, serving in the Army Air Force from 1942 until 1945, then moving around the country in several different positions with the B.F. Goodrich Company.
It was during his time in the military that he met his future wife, Vivian, although their first encounter was brief and forgettable, at least on her part.
On a four-day furlough in Rome in 1944, Moore met three nurses on leave from Anzio Beach. He chatted with them and was hoping to see them later, but couldn’t locate them again.
He enrolled at Georgia Tech after his discharge in 1945, and while there developed a severe case of bronchitis and was sent to a V.A. hospital. When the nurse came to his room, he thought she looked familiar, but when he asked if they had met before, she said “No.”
Later, they discovered that she had been one of the three nurses in Rome. They were married in 1948 and their son, Eric, was born in 1949.
Moore became serious about the game while he was pulling a stint in a military hospital in Augusta, Ga., during the early 1940s.
“The hospital was almost right on a golf course (Forest Hills Golf Club) and they supplied us with clubs and balls,” he said. “I played three or four times and got hooked.
“After I went to work for Goodrich in 1950, I traveled a lot and carried my clubs with me everywhere. I played a lot of customer golf.”
Moore wanted to retire from Goodrich in 1983, but he had been so successful in building corporate sales wherever he had been sent, the company asked him to work two more years.
He agreed, and Vivian moved to Seven Lakes to supervise construction of their retirement home. He finally joined her in 1985 after having held 10 different positions with Goodrich over 35 years.
One of Ray’s golf companions, Bill Johnston, likes to kid his old friend.
“The little so-and-so has been here for 28 years now and is setting all kinds of records on the golf course,” Johnston said.
One of those records has earned Moore a lot of good-natured kidding from friends. In 1986, Moore played a 36-hole club championship match with Archie Simmons and lost on the final hole. Since then he’s been a runner-up for the Seven Lakes championship four more times as well as finishing second twice at Beacon Ridge Country Club, where he was a member for years.
“Seven-times a runner-up,” Moore said, and held up a printed certificate that read, “Ray ‘Avis’ Moore.”
“They like to roast me,” Moore said, laughing at the memories. “When I turned 90 two weeks ago, they held a party for me and roasted me pretty good. They gave me a driver with a six-foot shaft and I told them I was going to use it for a putter so everything inside five feet would be a gimme.
“Later, I was out eating out and one of the girls said, ‘Happy birthday, Ray.’ A young man sitting nearby said, ‘I heard them say you were 90 years old. You sure look good for 90. What do you attribute it to?’
‘One word,’ I said. ‘Golf.’
Golf is what it’s all about to Moore these days. His beloved Vivian died two years ago and he deeply misses her. “I eat my meals at restaurants because I don’t like to eat alone,” he said. “Golf has pretty much been it for me as far as hobbies go. I try to play at least three times a week if it’s not too cold or too hot.”
Moore has made nine holes-in-one in his career, seven of them at Seven Lakes and one at Beacon Ridge. His first came on the Inverrary Copperhead course in Florida and he doesn’t think he’s had his last one yet. He’s also had a double eagle, holing a 4-wood second shot on a 500-yard par-5 on the Lake Arlington course near Fort Worth, Texas. The largest margin he’s beaten his age by is 12 strokes.
Age has changed Moore’s game, though. He’s now playing from the gold tees at Seven Lakes because he’s lost some flexibility and also suffered a mini-stroke a year ago that weakened his left side.
“At my best, I had a 2 handicap,” he said, displaying a chart that showed his handicap year-by-year. It soared to 17 a few years ago, but he got it back to a 12. Now he plays to an 18.
“I can still hit a good drive about 190 yards,” he said, “and 3-woods about 160. Since moving up to the gold tees, I’m shooting my age every time I go out. My goal is to shoot my age or better at least 1,000 times. Playing three times a week, I figure that’s about three more years.”
And what does he plan after giving up golf?
“Nothing,” he said. “I’m going to drop dead walking off the 18th green.”
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