EAST WENATCHEE — Stearns Eason doesn’t send many golf balls out of bounds.
“I don’t hit far enough anymore,” he says.
At 99, that’s OK with him. He’s happy to still be playing 18 holes three times a week.
The retired civil engineer plays with a group of senior citizens at the Wenatchee Golf and Country Club. One of them, Bill Parker, calls Eason “a legend.”
“He plays hard, he plays fast, he has a good attitude, he has good stories, he’s a good listener, he’s polite and a real gentleman,” said Parker, 73, of Cashmere.
What’s more, nobody has to wait for Eason.
“He has his own cart and, when he finishes a hole, he goes to the next hole,” Parker said. “He’s very efficient. He’s always about doing the next shot.”
Joe Murphy, 75, of East Wenatchee, also plays with Eason. “I’m always amazed at the enthusiasm he has whenever he plays,” he said. Murphy called Eason “probably one of the greatest putters I’ve ever seen. He knows the greens so well and he can make some pretty long putts at times.”
Eason moved to Wenatchee in 1968 and continues to live in his first local home, which sits along the edge of the golf course. He’s widowed now and has two grown daughters. When he’s not golfing, he’s in his basement, working on decorative glass projects. That, and golf, he said, “keep me out of beer halls.”
He began golfing in the mid-1960s and calls the sport “a like-hate thing.”
He hates it when he plays poorly and he likes it “once in a while, when I hit the ball.”
He said he also likes being on the course with his buddies “and making nasty remarks about what I do.”
He said his favorite hole is “any of the par 3s.” He’s hit three holes in one, but none in the last three decades.
Back in the 1980s, he said, he was hitting in the high 70s. The other day, he hit 112 and jokes that “the older I get the more likely I’ll be able to shoot my age.”
Eason said his health is good but he’s been struggling with a bad back, which kept him off the course for a few weeks this summer. He’s in physical therapy now and happy to be back hitting the links.
In his younger days, Eason said he never thought about golfing into his late 90s.
“I didn’t think I’d be alive,” he said.