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Golf keeps McCarty young

By DON HOHLER • Jul 21, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Betty McCarty arrived at Heritage Park Sunday for the induction ceremony with what looked like armed guards. The three husky males at her side would be her tournament playing partners, her oldest son, Mike, and two of his friends that hung around the McCarty home for years, Kevin Kirkpatrick and Ron Shankman.

The average golfer probably would have not given the foursome a second look as they strolled in but on this day at this course it was different. Betty McCarty was on the grounds and that was a big deal. She is an 11-time Women’s Club Champion, winning at least one title in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

At this point, it should be mentioned that Betty McCarty is 95 years old. And if that is not news enough, she played all 12 holes of the tournament on Sunday.

Important to note is she used the same putter that was instrumental in her winning her final title in 1991. She went head-to-head with veteran player Carolyn Spaar that day. They came off 18 still tied.

“I was playing as well as I could against a darn good player,” McCarty remembered. “The match went into sudden death and I had a chance to win it with a putt on the 19th hole, one I guess was about 25-feet but with a sizeable break. After I made it Gary Wilkins told me it was one of the best putts he ever saw made under pressure.”

Betty (Jury) McCarty grew up in the rural community of Wyandot, OH, as she put it, “south of here where Marion, Crawford and Wyandott counties come together.”

“My father owned what truly was the “country store”,” she explained. “He sold everything from tractors to safety pins. He also farmed some and I helped wherever needed. It was through farming that I met my husband, Art. He worked for Central Soya in Marion. He passed away four years ago. We were married 66 years.”

McCarty was introduced to golf by her older sister, Lucille.

“Lucille attended Bowling Green State University, learning the game there but when she got home she had no one to play with so she dragged me along. I guess I was around 16 then. I guess you could say I was kind of a natural because in no time I was beating her,” McCarty remembered.

It 35, however, before she took her first lesson.

“Art was working for Central Soya in Gibson City, IL when I got a look-see by a pro. He told me then that he sure would have liked to have had me as a student at age 17 because as he put it, “lady we would have gone places.”

And he was probably right because McCarty’s only tournament test in Illinois came one year later when she won the B Flight championship at Farmers City Country Club.

A chance at advancement for Art meant heading east to a community they knew little about, Norwalk, Ohio. Sons, Mike, Pat and John, were already in overhauls when the move was made in 1959.

Betty and Art joined the Elk’s Country Club and with that Betty started to get more serious about her game.

“There were some fine women players out there in the early 1960’s,” she remembered. “Just getting into the finals when the field included gals like Nancy White, Nip Angell, Leona Schneider, Meta Price and Ila Heaston and later on, Jeannie Widman , was a true challenge.

“Of all the gals I played early-on though, I would say the lady that gave me the toughest matches was Betty Baker. More time than not, I had to face her somewhere in the bracket and she always brought her best game when she played me.

“Later in my career, Nancy White, Ev Fauber, Maxine Smith and of course, Carolyn Spaar and then Nancy Dilger, took their cracks at me. I learned humility more times than not,” she admitted.

But, if the truth be known, had it not been for some illness in the mid-1960’s that included some surgeries, she might have won as many as 15 titles.

After beating Betty Gerken in 1963 for her first title, she did not make a final again until 1970 when she was beaten by Yo Manyak.

McCarty fed off that loss, however with back-to-back wins over the next two years, stopping Nancy White then Ev Fauber. Fauber would get the best of her two years later, however, winning the 1974 final.

McCarty was back in the winner’s circle again in 1976 when she stopped Maxine Smith but Bev White turned her back the following year.

Her most impressive run started in 1979, her first of many finals against Carolyn Spaar. She won this one 5&4. After stopped White the next year, she faced Spaar again in 1981, winning this time 4&2.

She would put them back-to-back again in 1983 and 1984. She again beat Spaar, this time 5&4. Then came the Dilger era, the latter an eventual 10-time champion. McCarty owned the first two encounters (1984 and 1987), winning both by 3&2 scores.

Dilger, Spaar and McCarty would be common names in the finals for nine straight years starting in 1983. McCarty would win four times over that stretch including her final one in 1991 with that 25-footer on the 19th hole. Dilger would win three and Spaar two of her eventual six.

It was five years ago when son, Mike made arrangements for his mother to tee it up with touring pro Kyle Stanley.

“Mike lives in the Berkley Hall sub-division in Bluffton, SC,” Betty explained. “He knew it would be special if I had a chance to play with a tour player and Stanly agreed to the match.

“It wasn’t much of a match but I did not embarrass myself,” she believed.

As far as her play on Sunday. “I have played better,” she somewhat casually remarked.

That folks is an understatement.

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