CARVILLE: Hanging out with friends |

CARVILLE: Hanging out with friends

As an owner of the South Yuba Club, I usually write about how important it is for seniors to exercise and stay active. I might mention the benefits of heart health, reversing onset diabetes, bone density loss, low cancer rates, et cetera…. But what about the benefits of just laughing, enjoying life and having fun.

I was reminded of this while playing golf at the Nevada County Country Club. I am in my mid-70s and just took up the game of golf. Yes, starting golf this late is a little challenging. But fun.

I was invited to play with a group of guys, mostly retired, who range from mid-60s to early 90s. They call it the “Skins Group” because you have to put skin ($5) into the game. I usually lose my 5 bucks, but that’s not the point. The point is to get out with friends and enjoy life.


I see the real life benefits of staying active in my ‘golfing buddies.’ They have had active lives and now reap the benefits.

Take Elby, 92 year old retired general contractor, former 12 handicap, who grouses if he didn’t get a couple of pars and a birdie or two in the round… give me a break… 92 years old and out drives me every time.

Take Bob, turning 90 soon who as a young Navy radio man was attached to the Marines in the Battle of Iwo Jima, great stories, and who usually beats me by several strokes each round.

Take them all: Don — mid-80s, lean (not mean) retired Army Colonel who carries his own clubs for the first seven holes and usually wins a ‘skin’ or two; Rudy — somewhere near 80 and the ‘Godfather’ or ‘bookie’ of the outfit, Tom — mid-80s and retired owner of a Sonoma County based earth moving business, whose good nature and optimism is uplifting; Ken — mid-80s and retired general contractor; ‘Kenny’ — somewhere in his mid-70s whose short game is the envy of all who play with him; Frank — about 80, retired “Mad Men” guy from Silicon Valley who always finds the fairway and loves the game; Paul — retired from the Sheriff’s Department; Don — retired general contractor, who usually drives the ball 250 yards off the first tee in the morning; Bob — who enjoys fishing just a little more than golfing but still winds up winning a skin or two; Jim and Scott who spend as much effort joy-sticking their battery-powered golf bags as they do golfing yet shoot some of the best scores on the course; Dave — mid-70s whose good natured goal is ‘just bogey golf.’ Mine too.


The good guy list goes on: more Pauls, Garys, Rons, Bills, Johns, Bobs, Dans et cetera. But special mention goes to Harley who is in his 90s and plays every Monday and Friday in the Skins Group. Harley grew up on the course, his father was the groundskeeper and lived upstairs in the clubhouse. Harley was close to a scratch golfer in those days. These days he walks slowly with his cane up to the first tee, and then blasts a drive down the fairway — good natured, friendly, humorous, Harley is one of the persons you’re glad you met in life and will always remember.

I don’t want to forget Mylie whom I met last weekend. Mylie is 90, loves the game, shoots a little high now, but is a delightful partner on the course. She describes herself as “a salty old broad” but she is far from that — a spicy, loquacious, fun, go-getter like many of the other ‘senior women’ I have met at the Club. You’re all great.


The Nevada County Country Club is a local gem. Founded in the 1920s on donated farm land, it is truly a product of local pride. During World War II it was maintained by volunteers, one of whom was Clarence Rush, my wife’s grandfather, who was a teacher at the old Grass Valley High School, a scratch golfer and five-time Club Champion.

The Club has been described as a ‘social club with a golf course.’ Drop in on the weekend, have a beer, watch the Golf Channel, play a round to two or hang out with some good people.

Special thanks to Mike Rademaker, manager and golf pro, Vicky Harr, head bartender, Peter Chow, groundskeeper, Club President Bill Roach, Skip, Tom, Debbie, Ben and all the staff at one of Nevada County’s cool places. You make it happen.


I have several and they are pretty simple.

If you want to be active after you are 70, get active before you’re 70. Start walking, lift weights, maintain a journal, get expert assistance. Maintain a positive attitude about life. Join a health club for motivation and a fun place to workout. Investigate personal training for maximum benefit, to meet specific goals or address specific health issues. And, if golf is of interest – take it up earlier than I did.

Don’t forget. It’s your life. Get or stay active, lift a few weights and keep smiling. Do things that makes you happy.

Phil Carville specializes in senior fitness. He is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club and can be contacted at

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