Dementia aside, 94-year-old picks up hole-in-one

Charles Towner with neighbor Howard "Jake" Kunstle in 2001.

Charles Towner with neighbor Howard "Jake" Kunstle in 2001.

Playing nine holes of golf is a common ritual for Charles Towner, a soon-to-be 95-year-old Colorado Springs, Colo., resident.

On Friday, Towner, who turns 95 on Aug. 1, returned home from the course, thinking his round was nothing to write home about.

But it certainly was.

“His golf buddy Harold Poe brought Charles home from golf,” Towner’s wife, Pauline Towner explained. “Then, after a little while, Harold called me and asked if Charles told me anything. I said, ‘No.’

“And he said, ‘That guy got a hole-in-one.’”

Charles Towner aced hole No. 2 Friday at Kissing Camels at Garden of the Gods North Course in Colorado Springs. His club selection? 3-wood for the 160-yard par-3.

There’s a simple reason behind the hole-in-one slipping Towner’s mind: he didn’t remember.

The estimated 29-handicap – Towner plays nine holes three or four times a week – has dementia and short-term memory loss.

“We couldn’t find (the ball) on the green,” Poe said. “I said, ‘I can’t believe it, it’s supposed to be right there.’ The next thing we know, we walk over and there it was in the hole.”

Said Gene Gabelmann, director of golf at Garden of the Gods Club: “Harold came into the golf shop and told me Charlie had gotten a hole-in-one. It was very exciting and, of course, I went to congratulate Charlie. He looked at me and said, ‘It would be great to get a hole-in-one.’”

Towner stays active, playing golf at his local course and driving his wife to and from the doctor’s office when needed.

His memory loss hardly affects his game, with a little help from his friend.

“He’ll go to the ball and always turns the club upside to make sure he has the right number when he reaches the ball,” Poe said. “I talk to him about the numbers he’ll use. I’ll say, ‘Charlie, it looks like you’re about 100 yards out, your 6- or 7-iron should do the trick.’

“He’s played the course enough to know where he is and how to handle it.”

Poe calls Towner an exceptional putter and adds that he’ll hit his tee shot down the middle 99 percent of the time.

While short-term memory loss may not keep Towner from playing his favorite game, that was not always the case.

“He’s better than he was,” Poe said. “A couple of years ago, he had to quit in the middle of (a round) and he was driving his cart. I said, ‘All right Charlie, I’ll see you tomorrow.’ And he said, ‘I don’t know how to get home, will you help me get home?’”

Now, Towner can navigate just fine and is “very active and intelligent” for his age, according to Poe, 82.

As far as how often Poe will remind his friend of his unlikely ace …

“Let me put it this way,” Poe said. “We went to a party Friday night, the day that it happened, and a friend of ours made an announcement at the party that Charlie had made this hole-in-one. He was very shy about it and just waved.

“Some of the other guys walked up when I was there and Charlie said, ‘It wasn’t me, it was [Harold] that had the hole-in-one.’ I said, ‘Charlie, you don’t remember too well, but you had a beautiful shot.’”

Towner may be hearing about it a lot. Pauline Towner said that, after the local paper wrote an article on her husband’s feat, she’s been hearing from people all over town about his hole-in-one.

Some people are lucky enough to know the joy of finding out they made a hole-in-one once in a lifetime.

Charles Towner may be the lucky one. He’ll get to hear the news over and over again.

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