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Cable Hollow golfer belies his age

Submitted Photo Ray Carlson tees off during a recent round at Cable Hollow Golf Course.

Ray Carlson admits that it’s hard for him to sit still, but except for an occasional short road trip in the car he and his wife, Kathleen, have been pretty much confined to their Edgewood Communities apartment on the Lutheran campus in Jamestown the last three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But last week Ray and his grandson, Bill Carlson, hit the links at Cable Hollow Golf Course in Akeley, Pennsylvania — adhering to social distancing, of course.

After completing the front nine, Ray and Bill approached the 10th tee where they were greeted by a foursome, which graciously allowed the Carlsons to play through. When it was his turn to hit, Ray walked on to the tee box, gazed out at the 305-yard expanse in front of him and took a mighty rip.

“I hit a perfect drive,” he said. “It was sitting about 175 yards (out in the fairway). At least I didn’t make a fool of myself.”

Not bad for a 90-year-old.

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Ray graduated from Jamestown High School in 1948, served three years in the U.S. Army, including 2 ¢ in the Philippines, and returned to Jamestown where he and Kathy raised their family that includes Mark, Beth and Cindy. But if you’re reading this thinking there is a huge sports accomplishment about to be revisited, you won’t find it here. Ray didn’t play high school sports growing up and didn’t begin to play golf until he was stationed in the Far East. If, however, you’re looking for a story that inspires at a time when the world needs just that, you’ve come to the right place.

“I view my Dad as the ultimate Renaissance man,” said daughter Beth Bauman, who lives in Bermuda.

It’s hard to argue that assessment.

After Ray’s stint in the Army — he was once paid $100 to serve as an extra in the movie, “An American Guerrilla in the Philippines,” starring Tyrone Power — Ray returned home and had a successful business career at Automatic Voting Machine and Dahlstroms before his retirement. When not at work, Ray pushed the pedal to the metal as far back as Beth can remember, especially with his love for golf and fishing.

“He was a great businessman, but also had good sport hobbies,” she said. “He is also an artist. He painted when I was young, but he took up woodworking later in life. I keep telling him that he should sell his work, but I think they are too personal to sell.”

“I do all kinds of things just to stay active,” Ray said during a telephone interview last week. “We’ve always been busy. I can always find something to do. … It’s so important to stay active. I have been my whole life. I can’t be satisfied sitting still.”

So last Tuesday, Ray and grandson Bill, decided to hit the links. John Bortz of Cable Hollow Golf Course, was there to greet them.

“I can still remember the first time I met Ray Carlson almost 30 years ago,” Bortz said. “He approached me about setting up a golf tournament for his group, and his demeanor was one of humility, grace and humor. I think it says something about the man that his group is one we have had many times through the years. When you work with Ray, you work with a gentleman.”

Who also still has game.

An avid golfer dating back to his time in the Philippines, Ray has been a member at several area layouts through the years. One of his personal highlights, in fact, was the time he recorded a hole-in-one at South Hills Country Club in Busti.

“As I got older, I tried to score my age,” said Ray, who did it seven or eight times when he was in his 80s. “Of course, now that I’m 90, I’d like to do that.”

He might make that happen sooner than later.

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During his outing last week at Cable Hollow, Ray shot a 98 in 92-degree temperatures. Grandson Bill carded a 76.

“The two of them have played many rounds of golf together,” Bortz said. “That’s just the type of man Ray Carlson is: making endearing relationships that last a lifetime, and doing his part to make you better for having known him.”

A sense of humor helps, too.

Sitting in front of his computer one day not long ago, Ray was intrigued when he came across a website that claimed to be able to predict how long a person would live based on responses to questions.

Upon answering them, Ray said, the “results” showed that he could expect to be around until he was 105 years old. Pleased with that result, Ray printed out the completed questionnaire and showed it to Kathy, who was drawn to one particular line that asked, “Do you smoke or drink?”

“She looked at this thing,” Ray recalled, “and said, ‘You lied.'”

Added Beth: “Dad … says that (his longevity) is due to his one martini a day.”

Cheers, Ray, cheers!

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