SARASOTA COUNTY - Down at Mission Valley Country Club in Nokomis, there is a golfer there who out-drives other golfers who are half his age. That may not sound like a big deal, unless this particular golfer is 94.
Despite turning 94 years old this week, Art Richart plays golf 3 or 4 times a week. He carries a 16 handicap, and he spanks the ball better than most, no matter what their age. "He plays like he is in his 60's. He outdrives most of his partners. He is a freak of nature, really," says director of golf Brian Dahle.
"It's awful, but he is probably one of the nicestpeople to play this course," says Richart’s golf partner, Fred Hornberger.
Yes, everyone agrees that Art is very nice, and after playing more than 4,000 rounds over the course of 60 years, his golf game is well-respected. He is well-liked, but he is also well-known for how competitive he is. He gives no quarter on the golf course. "He never gives a putt. He smiles while he cuts your throat," says Hornberger.
"The competitiveness I get from my mother, who was very competitive. I just love the game. It keeps me young; keeps me feeling young," says Richart.
Because he is so competitive, maybe there are ways to take advantage of him, like when his partners have to give him yardage info on the hole. Maybe they can fudge a little. "We try, but his inner-ear always seems to give him the correct distance. He always knows where he is," says Hornberger.
He has been playing since he was in his mid-30's, but he never shot his age until he was in his mid-70's. "I’ve shot my age over 800 times. I first shot my age when I was 75. And I’ve shot par once in my life."
He is the glue at Mission Valley; the guy who organizes many of the tournaments, and he shows no signs of slowing down. "I feel very blessed. God has been good to me, and my parents gave me great genes."