Sherry Cope’s 95-year-old father hasn’t been able to play golf for a while, but she couldn’t bring herself to stop renewing his USGA membership until recently.
“I felt bad about it,” she said. “He was a member forever.”
Twenty-six years to be exact, but James “Jeff” Wolfe has been around the game since the Great Depression. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Wolfe made 25 cents per day working as a caddie. He was talented enough to play in local tournaments, but Wolfe didn’t want to miss out on the paycheck.
He went on to become a scratch golfer and competed in tournaments every weekend as an adult. The first time Wolfe played with his wife, she hit a shot into a bunker. He asked her how she was going to deal with that.
“No problem,” she said, picking up the ball and throwing it on the green.
Wolfe introduced his daughter to the game when she was 9, purchasing a set of MacGregor golf clubs for her to use. Cope grew up with a passion for golf and would even caddie for her dad. She peaked at a 15 handicap but said she would have been a much better golfer if she was competitive.
A 23-year USGA Eagle Member, Cope traveled more than five hours from Western Kentucky to attend the U.S. Women’s Open in Shoal Creek, Ala., a championship she rarely misses since retiring 10 years ago from a career as a college registrar.
Her favorite players to watch are Cristie Kerr, Lucy Li and Natalie Gulbis, whose signature adorns Cope’s Solheim Cup visor.
She appreciates good sportsmanship and is a stickler on the Rules.
“We’ve become the old biddies we made fun of as kids,” Cope said.
In the end, she loves golf because it can be enjoyed alone and with others.
“It’s a singular game; you put yourself to the test,” Cope said. “It’s also a group game in that you make new friends. For me, it’s a family thing and teaches you honesty. It’s a lifetime game.”
Jordan Schwartz is the creative and content lead for the USGA Foundation. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.