I recently called around to a few local golf courses, and opened up the conversation by asking, “I’m looking to do a story on the oldest golfer in the area, do you have anybody who might qualify?” The responses were usually that they used to have a really old guy, but he passed away or just stopped playing because of his health. Then, at Westwood Country Club, the head professional, Daryl Hartig told me without hesitation, “Oh, do I have the right guy for you!”
Did he ever! Jay Straus didn’t just happen be an elderly golfer, but he was a really good elderly golfer. I have done a few of these stories in the past on people who are quite old and still play, but they usually hit the ball 75 yards, can’t get the club back and hit three bad shots for every one good shot. You hate to have to play behind these golfers because it makes a four-hour round a five-hour round.
Jay Straus turned 100 last month. He takes a turn on his swing that would make Ernie Els proud. We go to hole No. 1 at Westwood. He hits his drive 160 yards dead center. Then he blasts another iron shot. He is now sitting 81 yards away from the stick. He gently hits an 81-yard wedge 15 from 15 feet from the stick. He missed his par putt and tapped in for a bogey. From everybody we have talked to at Westwood, that was not an aberration—that is Jay Straus.
He has shot his age at least once a year since he was 76 years old. He has four holes-in-one, shot 67 twice, and takes the money regularly from his playing partners at the club. I guess if you have been playing about twice a week since you were 12 and have actually written a book titled, Teaching Tips To Lower Your Score, you should be pretty good.
Everything about Straus is steady and consistent. He misses a fairway as often as Jack Benny picked up a check. He was married for 66 years, worked at the Wohl Shoe Company for 31 years, and has been hitting that little white ball now for 88 years.
Straus also is the toughest guy you may see on the links. In 2010, he was involved in a serious car accident, broke his collar bone, got stitches and totaled his car. What was the first thing he told his doctors? “I need to get well and be playing golf in April.” He was. Straus now plays twice a week. He plays nine holes and shoots in the 40s. We sat down for a chat.
To what do you attribute your incredible health?
Positive thinking. Nothing bothers me. I see things going on around me and people hollering—doesn’t bother me. I just want to think about tomorrow.
What is it I hear about your great breakfast schedule?
It’s a blend of wheat germ with honey, a banana, a half a glass of milk and a half a glass orange juice. I have had that same breakfast for the last 50 years.
Last Saturday, you played and shot 46. Did you win any money?
It’s not for publication.
What goals do you have left?
Get out of bed tomorrow morning—and then I know I’m OK.
1. Tony Dungy has caught a lot of heat. But you have to remember 31 other coaches also didn't want the distractions of drafting Michael Sam. However, give Sam credit for handling the situation with dignity.
2. Just a prediction: I think Mike Matheny will be at his job longer than any Cardinals manager ever. Management likes him, players want to play for him, and he will do a lot of winning with this talent for a long time.
3. Some great buys on the restaurant scene: the pasta at Sugo’s, the salads at Crushed Red, the rigatoni with the Sunday gravy at Paul Manno’s.
4. Every time I go to a Ranken Jordan function, it makes me appreciate just how great it is for our town and for kids all over the country. It truly is a St. Louis treasure.
5. I just got back from Cooperstown. It’s not an easy place to get to, but that’s probably the way it should be. It shouldn’t be easy to finally get to baseball heaven.
Frank Cusumano is a 16-time Emmy Award winner on KSDK-TV, and also has been a radio commentator for 20 years. Follow Frank on Twitter @Frank_Cusumano.