Pencil Me In

Pencil Me In - Mary Lauffer, 95, Annapolis, Maryland

You would think a golfer would talk first about getting two hole-in-ones in a lifetime. But Mary Lauffer likes to talk about her pencil collection. You see, her hobby has been to collect one of those skinny scoring pencils at each course she’s ever played.  She has over 400 of them from decades of walking and whacking balls. She loves playing new courses and looks forward to picking up a special pencil when she competes in Cleveland for the 2013 National Senior Games Presented by Humana.

The former PE teacher has always advocated fitness for life and shows the benefits by her example. Mary inspires everyone around her – follow her story and you will be inspired, too.


Have you always been active?

Yes. I started doing a lot of sports at my college. It was called Beaver College in Glenside, Pennsylvania but it’s now called something else. I was kinda mad at them when they changed it. I played on the golf team from ‘36 to ’40. I think I played every sport there was except lacrosse.

I was a physical education major and was a PE teacher for a few years. When I had kids, I stayed at home with them but I did get out refereeing youth sports, playing some softball and basketball and I was even on a hockey team for a time in Philadelphia. But it’s been golf that I’ve done through my life. I won some tournaments and was women’s champion at my club twice during the ‘50s and ‘60s. I especially enjoyed the Philadelphia Cup - It’s a prestigious event with all the clubs competing against each other. I played every golf course in the Philly area. It was a most interesting time.

I also have two hole-in-ones. The first was in Wilmington, Delaware during a team tournament, and the second was at Palmetto Dunes Country Club in South Carolina while competing in a senior’s tournament there. I’d like to get another one but I just don’t drive the ball like I used to. But you never know.

I have served on two golf boards too: the Delaware Women’s Golf Association and the South Carolina Women’s Golf Association.


How did you get involved in Senior Games?

My husband passed away 4 years ago. I’m on my own and doing well but have to be smart about taking care of myself. I started senior games around that time. I didn’t know what it was and found out about it from someone I play golf with at my club. 

This will be my second time to the Nationals. I won the gold medal in Houston in 2011. There was no woman in my age group so I competed against myself. They paired me with a group of men so I just played off the men’s tees with them. They were very gracious and fun. They all had family there so there was a cheering section of maybe 20 people following us around the course. I had a good time.

When I wanted to qualify for this year, the dates at the Maryland games didn’t work for me. But I looked around and made it to the Delaware games. I was glad that they let people qualify in other states. When I qualified in 2010, I was playing with a group of women but this nice man Ted Wroth rode with me. I thought he was keeping me company. I didn’t know he was the main guy running the games. When I shot a 51 on the front nine he left. I guess he figured I knew how to do this. (Laugh)

Motivations & Inspirations

How long will you continue playing golf?

Forever if I can!  I don’t hit the ball as far, and my handicap has gone sky high. But that doesn't deter me because I love to play and be out in the sunshine. Golf is something you can do all your life at any level and still do your best. You may not be as good as others, but that’s not what matters. I don’t ever plan to stop.


Are you an inspiration for anyone around you?

Oh, everybody here at the golf course! They say things like ‘you make me keep going’ and ‘hope I can play as long as you do’


What would you say to people who aren’t staying active and taking care of themselves?

It’s terrible to see people that are obese – they don’t exercise and their eating habits are dreadful. They don’t understand what they’re doing to their bodies.

Unfortunately, my observation is that people who were sedentary when they were young continue to be sedentary when they grow older. It’s hard to get them motivated to try something new. I tell them there’s always something you can do. Go to the pool. The main thing is to think to the future about what it will be like not doing anything. People who are active really last longer and enjoy life better. It’s good that most of the people I know at my club are active. Some of them have limitations but they fight it off and keep going.  They tell me I am an inspiration to them.

You have to get people started when they are young. It’s terrible that schools stopped having physical education. Don’t play kickball, somebody might get hurt.  I think it’s babyish. If they don’t do anything they will get hurt!  But now I see they’re starting to put it back in there.

Training & Preparation for Competition

How long will you continue playing golf?

Forever if I can! I don’t hit the ball as far, and my handicap has gone sky high. But that doesn't deter me because I love to play and be out in the sunshine. Golf is something you can do all your life at any level and still do your best. You may not be as good as others, but that’s not what matters. I don’t ever plan to stop.


Does your routine change to prepare for competition?

When I get ready for a tournament, I concentrate on putting. I’ll still play a bit, but chipping and putting is my main focus of attention. I love to practice. When you can’t hit it all that far any more you have to make it up somewhere else! It’s very disturbing to see the ball isn’t going as far as it used to.


Is competition important to you?

Oh, I love to compete. Unfortunately I now have to compete against the score because after I hit 90 there wasn’t anybody in my age group registered. But I don’t want to make a fool out of myself. I’m a self motivated person but if there’s no one in my group I pretend somebody is there and concentrate on my game and the score.


What are you looking forward to going to Cleveland?

I love going to new golf courses. I’d love to get around and see some of the sights but I’m not sure how much of that I’ll be able to do. I won’t rent a car-I don’t like driving on interstates- and where I’m staying by the golf course is a little ways from the things going on downtown. My son has come with me before to make sure I’m settled in but he can’t make it in July.

Fitness & Nutrition

Do you work out regularly?

I exercise and walk all the time. You just have to. I’m busy with a 50 up community here and they are very active. Of course I play golf when the weather is good. There’s a mixed group that plays on Fridays, that’s fun. I’m fortunate that I have been able to stay healthy and keep doing what I’m doing.

Nutrition has become important. Absolutely. My husband was on a very strict diet for over 20 years and I cooked for him and that’s what I ate too. Our diet was low salt, not many sweets and controlled portions. It’s important to eat healthy and I’ve done pretty well and don’t hardly get sick.


Do you surprise your doctors?

Yes.  Funny, when I went in to have this stupid rib X rayed, they made me fill out all of these forms. They asked me ‘What medications you take?’ Well, I don’t take any. They said ‘What? You don’t take any medicine?’ I said no, I take vitamin D and vitamin B12. ‘Oh. Weil have you ever been sick?’ I said no. ‘Any operations?’ Yeah, I had my knuckle operated on once.  I’ve been very blessed.

I do have a cracked rib right now. I was getting into bed and got my arm in front of my ribs and fell into it. It was a stupid thing to do. You don’t know how upset I am about it. It’s driving me crazy because I can’t do anything right now. It’s only been 12 days so I shouldn’t get too upset. There’s time to get it ready for this summer.


As luck would have it, Mary’s golf competition fell on the same day as our Personal Best presentation in Cleveland. While we missed the opportunity to publicly honor her at our event, we’re happy she had a good time at the 2013 National Senior Games Presented by Humana and that she continues to be an admired active senior back in Maryland. In Mary’s words:

I enjoyed Quail Hollow, both the course and the hotel. Everyone was most helpful. Alas, I forgot to keep my pencil! I will have to write to the pro shop and ask them to send me one for my collection.

I played two days with the men because there were no women in my age group available. Their families took pictures and have already sent some tome. As for the golf, the first day was my worst. I three-putted 8 greens! But I came back and took 12 strokes off the next day.

Thanks for the article. A lot of people, including some at my club, have commented that they saw it.



No Retreat, No Surrender

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The Art and Science of a Successful Life

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Unexpected Gains

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Family Extended

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