97 years old, shoots a 96

Golf keeps Picard young at heart

Joe Picard tees off on the first hole at the Lincoln Park Golf Course on May 23. Picard, 97, fell in love with golf after becoming his father’s caddy, saying the game builds “ethical character.”

Joe Picard started golfing at the age of 14. That was in 1931.

He recently celebrated his 97th birthday, and he’s still playing golf.

In fact, on that birthday, he shot a round of 96 at Lincoln Park Golf Course.

Picard jumps in and out of his golf cart with youthful ease. He drives himself to Lincoln Park, and he plays a full round of golf every Friday.

“He’s a pleasure to play with. He plays quickly, he plays well, and he’s got a nice swing,” said Brian Tobin, who has been golfing with Picard for about a year.

According to Tobin, Picard’s sharpness, mentally and physically, make him a marvel and hero to the seniors’ golf group he plays with every week.

“I’ve been fortunate to have good health at this age, and I still love the game,” Picard said, before adding with a laugh, “It’s a game that you can play as long as you can walk.”

Eighty-three years ago, Picard’s father had appendix surgery and was told by his doctor to start exercising. The doctor recommended golf, and Picard became his father’s caddy.

It didn’t take long for Picard to realize he could make money caddying for other people. Through his job, Picard developed a passion for golf, but he had a slight problem, a lack of golf clubs.

“I found an old club and played a temporary course in the caddy yard with a 2-iron,” Picard said. “Someone had discarded it, and I found it.”

Now, Picard uses a set of Wilson Staff clubs he has had for 10 years. He may have moved past the single 2-iron he started playing with, but the same characteristics of golf that caught his attention all those years ago still captivate him today.

Picard said he loves the fellowship and friendly competition golf provides, but more than anything he loves the character that can be developed through the game.

“Golf is the only sport that has definite rules, and the rules are such that the golfer calls penalties on himself,” Picard said. “You build ethical character doing the right thing even though no one is watching.”

Because of this, Picard passed golf down to his entire family. He has two sons and two daughters, and they all play golf.

Picard is looking forward to a family reunion in August when 15 of the 27 attending family members will play golf together.

“We only have reunions every three years, so that’s not really a factor that keeps us close. We are just a close family anyway,” he said.

Picard said he is glad the close-knit group shares his love of golf.

Although he is long past his golfing prime, which Picard said he reached in the 1960s, averaging about 78 strokes per round, he still strives to improve each time he plays.

“Regardless of your age, you are always trying to get better,” he said.

“I’ve played tennis, too, and I’ve played sandlot football. I’ve played sandlot everything, and there is nothing that builds character like golf,” Picard said. “I can’t play tennis any more, but I can play golf.”


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