EVERETT — To Bette Moore it wasn’t that big a deal.
To everyone else it was the embodiment of human will overcoming the forces of aging.
On May 8 the 91-year-old Moore pulled off an athletic feat that would have been celebrated by an individual of any age or gender, hitting a hole-in-one at Walter Hall Golf Course in Everett.
“I guess it’s a big deal, but I get a lot of this business of, ‘I can’t believe you’re 91,’” said Moore, who resides in Mountlake Terrace. “I don’t know what 91 is supposed to be like because I’ve never been this age before. Quite frankly I’m liking it. I’m glad that I’ve made it this far.”
Moore’s hole-in-one came on No. 14 at Walter Hall. Hitting from the gold tees, which play 135 yards, Moore used a driver to clear the water and score the second ace of her lifetime. Her previous hole-in-one came about 20 years ago at The Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course in Sequim.
“My reaction was I didn’t see the ball anywhere,” Moore recalled. “I knew it wasn’t in trouble, it had gone straight and it wasn’t short, and I couldn’t see anything off the back. I thought I’d look in the hole, and it was a shock. Everybody hits with the idea to get the ball in the hole as soon as possible, but you never really think it’s going to happen in one shot. So that was a very nice shock.”
Said playing partner Jan Henry: “None of us saw it go in the hole. She felt like she hit it straight and it was a red flag that day and the shot was pretty much centered in the middle of the green. We were kind of looking as we drove up to the green and we couldn’t see it anywhere. She happened to look in the hole and there it was.
“She didn’t jump up and down or get really excited about it, but she was very proud, I know that.”
The Washington State Golf Association doesn’t keep track of the ages of people who hit holes-in-one, so there’s no record of where Moore stands historically. But suffice it to say it’s a rare accomplishment for someone her age.
“I’ve never reported a hole-in-one by someone that age,” said Walter Hall head golf pro Wayne Clark, who’s been a golf pro for 31 years. “I’ve heard of it happening, but this is the first time for me. It’s quite the feat.”
But it’s a feat that seems natural for a vibrant personality like Moore. Moore, who cheerfully described herself as the “old lady in the county now,” has been playing since 1970, when she picked up the sport at the age of 43. She’s a former Snohomish County women’s champion who still plays twice a week — she’s a member at both Walter Hall and Legion Memorial Golf Course, playing Tuesdays at Walter Hall and Thursday’s at Legion — and she still occasionally cracks 100. The one concession she’s made to age is that she now rides a cart instead of walking the course.
“My doctors encourage my playing, and one of my ophthalmologists said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t quit,’” Moore said. “As people get older they need the companionship and upbeat things that they’re doing. It doesn’t have to be golf, for me it just happens to be golf.”
What made Moore’s hole-in-one even more remarkable were the circumstances surrounding the day. First, it was Moore’s first round of golf of the season. Second, she and Henry, who are longtime playing partners, were only planning on playing nine holes, but when they finished the front nine they decided to play nine more. Without that spontaneous change of plans there would have been no hole-in-one.
“We had both decided that we would go out and play nine holes just to see if we remembered how to play,” Moore said. “We bought nine and I was having so much fun I said, ‘Jan, do you think you’d feel like playing 18?’ and she said, ‘I’d love to.’ We went back out, and on the back nine I had the hole-in-one.”
A hole in one that’s inspired all in Moore’s world.
“It’s just great,” said Henry who is the youngster of the golfing pair at 82. “Whenever anyone gets a hole-in-one it’s just amazing. The fact that she’s 91 years old — and she’s an amazing person anyways and a very good golfer — makes it more amazing. Everybody was very excited for her.”