November 28, 2022
“I was never a champion, but always an enthusiast,” said Kendal at Lexington resident John South of golf, the game he has played on courses throughout the world.
An Enduring Passion
As a child growing up in Panama and Brazil, John shared his father’s drive for golf. At the age of 18, he came to America and enrolled in Brown University, where he met his late wife Martha, a student at what was then Brown’s coordinate Pembroke women’s college.
Martha’s mother offered her daughter the wise advice, “If you’re interested in that boy, you might want to learn how to play golf.”
Later, the former businessman, who lived in 13 states and eight countries, became a golf course rater with the United States Golf Association. A resident of Colorado at the time, John gathered data on over 50 of the state’s courses that would determine their difficulty and influence player handicaps. “It was a bit of a boondoggle,” he said. “I got to collect the information, then play the course!”
Game for a Lifetime
Despite years of experience on courses from golf’s birthplace, St. Andrews in Scotland, to fairways in Vietnam, John calls the sport he loves a “humbling game.” Citing the well-known quip, he said, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”
Still, that doesn’t stop the 82-year-old and other golf enthusiasts at Kendal at Lexington from playing several times per week in all but cold temperatures, most often at the nearby Lexington Golf and Country Club. In spite of its challenges, asserts John, “Golf is a game for a lifetime. I can’t hit far anymore, but I get my 10,000 steps!”
He also credits the game for its abundant social opportunities. In addition to the four languages John speaks, he said, “I can also yackety-yak in golf! Golf unites people across the world.”
A Winning Team
Golf is bringing people together here at home, too.
In the fall, John and residents Jim Naylor, Dave Yawars, and Bruce King represented Kendal at Lexington in a tournament benefiting the Rockbridge Area YMCA, held at the Lexington Golf and Country Club. For the third year in a row, the Kendal team placed best among retirement communities (the only one) and top in their age bracket.
“We had a fabulous time cheering each other on,” said John, remarking that it is a core Kendal value to support local community programs through fundraisers such as the golf tournament.
Welcoming, Interesting People
Team spirit is an appropriate metaphor for the resident culture at Kendal.
“The people here and in town are so welcoming and interesting. Everyone has a story, and they’re all different,” remarked John, whose extensive life travels led him and Martha to Kendal in the scenic Shenandoah Valley nearly ten years ago.
Now a widower (Martha passed away nine years ago), John has had a hand in multiple activities and initiatives living at the Life Plan Community (CCRC), currently as convener of the “CATIE Web Online Portal” Committee, newsletter co-editor, and member of the welcome committee.
Kendal has also afforded John another chance at partnership with fellow resident Dianne Herrick, who shares his zeal for community involvement and travel.
Together with his many friends at Kendal at Lexington, he is very much enjoying the “course” of life.