WASHINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — She lived across from Hillcrest Golf Course in Washington but Sara Roth didn’t start playing golf until she was 42.
That was 55 years ago.
“When I moved to town, neighbor ladies talked me into playing golf. But I said, ‘I don’t know anything about playing golf.’ I went anyways. I’m not sure how bad I was,” said Roth. “I really like it because that got me out of the house.”
Her husband Lester stopped playing about ten years ago. But 97-year-old Sara Roth still plays in leagues two days a week.
And the Villas at Holly Brook resident says her current neighbors can’t believe it.
“The people out there (at Holly Brook) can’t believe I go golfing,” Roth said with a smile. “And many of them are younger than me.”
Her husban, also 97, started playing golf first. And that rubbed off on their three daughters.
“I’ve been telling people my mom’s age since she was 90,” said daughter Janet Wehnes. “They still can’t believe she’s golfing at 97 because most of (her mom’s friends) are just sitting around, playing puzzles. But she walks, she’s in good shape. I want to be like her.”
When the girls were young, the five-member Roth family used to take vacations to Gulf Shores, Alabama and play golf in Florida.
Wehnes still plays with her mom on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in her leagues at Quail Meadows Golf Course in East Peoria. Roth started playing in a women’s league at Eureka’s Kaufman Park decades ago but started playing at Quail Meadows “about eight or ten years ago.”
And now she’s become a bit of a rock star. On her league days, players from around the golf course seek her out to say hello to the 97-year-old with the magnetic personality.
“She’s got a fan club out here,” says Carla Johnson, who is Roth’s regular playing partner. “People come from other holes, they see Sara, come over and give her a hug.”
Roth says it’s true. “Especially the men,” she added.
Roth says she’s not sure how much longer she’ll play twice weekly. She thinks this might be her last year playing in her ladies leagues which start in May and runs through September.
So she’s enjoying ever swing of every round this summer.
“You can come out here and forget the world,” Roth said. “Hit the ball and forget everything.”