Shooting in the 80s while almost in his 90s
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Sometimes the eyes truly can be deceiving.
Glenwood Springs resident Dale Snearly doesn’t give the impression of someone who will be celebrating his 90th birthday on Dec. 13. He looks to be in pretty good shape, and if you’ve ever seen him play golf, you know his game is in great shape.
Snearly routinely shoots below his age. An 18-hole score of 84 recently will attest to that fact. He loves playing the game as often as possible, and he especially enjoys his senior golfing buddies, who meet on a regular basis at the Glenwood Springs Golf Club.
“I really like the social part of meeting with those people,” Snearly said. “The friendship and the camaraderie are important.”
The notion of playing golf never crossed Snearly’s mind until the summer of 1946, when a friend in Gillette, Wyo., gave him some hickory-shafted clubs because he thought Snearly would be good at the game.
Snearly, fresh off a World War II tour of duty in the Army Air Corps, had been a good three-sport athlete in football, basketball and track at Campbell County High School in Gillette. He now had a set of clubs, so he decided to give this new game a try.
“It was total cow pasture pool,” Snearly recalled. “The greens were sand, and you used a pipe drag to make a path from the hole to your ball.”
Snearly didn’t get to putt on greens made of grass until 1961, when his job as an accountant took him to Cheyenne, Wyo. Career opportunities would end up taking him and his wife of 65 years, Dorothy, to stops in Billings, Mont., and San Francisco, before a business opportunity to build a motel and restaurant at the Powderhorn ski area near Grand Junction in 1977 brought the couple to Colorado.
In 1979, the Snearlys found their way up the interstate, where a staff accounting job with Bill Barnes and Cliff Haycock awaited.
The Snearlys fell in love with Glenwood Springs.
Snearly’s ultimate golfing thrill came in 1985 when he got to play the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. It was by chance that Snearly’s name was selected in a morning lottery that allowed him to be a part of a daily, select public group chosen to play.
“You had to put your name on a ballot the day before you wanted to play. I was lucky enough to be chosen,” said Snearly. “There are sand bunkers on that course, where you have to shoot backwards in order to get out.”
It’s worth mentioning that Snearly shot a very respectable 92 that day, on a course that has hosted its share of British Open championships, and is regarded as the birthplace of golf.
Snearly continues to play golf as often as he can. He and his wife even make some winter trips to Scottsdale, Ariz., to escape the Colorado chill and get in a few extra rounds. He hopes to continue playing as long as his health will allow, and maybe even achieve a golfing milestone which has eluded him since he was given those hickory clubs in ’46.
“I’ve never had a hole-in-one. I’ll probably die of a heart attack if I ever get one,” chuckled Snearly. “I’ve hit the pin, been within two or three inches, but never got one.”
Whether Snearly ever experiences that one-shot hole seems to matter very little to the man who took up the game just after the second World War. He’s just thankful to that friend back in Gillette who introduced him to the game that has brought so much joy and so many good people into his life.
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