Cele Infinger was shocked by the attention she was receiving as awards were presented last weekend following the Ladies City Amateur golf tournament at Charleston Municipal Golf Course.
“You don’t think this is going to give me the big head or something,” the 90-year-old golfer joked as she was recognized by general manager Marshall Ormand, who pointed out that there was a 76-year age difference between the tournament’s youngest and oldest participants.
Infinger knew she had no chance at winning, but competing wasn’t her goal when she entered the tournament. It was spending time with others who love golf.
“Wow! She is amazing. That’s amazing,” tournament winner Victoria Tsurutis, 27, gushed afterward.
“We can’t have a tournament without Cele,” said Robin Smith, who played in the same group with Infinger during the final round. “I love playing with Cele. She’s easygoing. She supports all the players. She’s not trying to beat you or wish you bad on the course. She’s for everybody. Women like her inspire us.”
Aside from not being able to see as well as she once could, Infinger still plays the game well. She didn’t shoot her age, but she didn’t miss it by that much during the first round when Infinger recorded a score of 101, which was about the heat index.
This was first appearance in the tournament in several years. Infinger said she hadn’t been playing that well, but decided she would like to give it another go. Her friend Clara Polutta said Infinger called and wanted to play and practice and Polutta encouraged Infinger to enter the tournament.
“I just had my 90th birthday in February. I’m feeling good and I still enjoy playing with them,” said Infinger, who has been playing golf for more than 50 years. “I kind of lost my game winter before last. I’m still hacking away and, at 90, everybody’s tolerating it.”
Infinger moved to Charleston from Florence County to work during World War II and met her husband Walter, now 93. They had four children, and when the youngest child was born she took up golf. Infinger said she and her husband played all over the area. Walter no longer plays because of a broken arm as well as injuries sustained in an automobile accident, she said.
Her best handicap was 10, her best score was in the 70s and she’s had one hole-in-one, on No. 11 at the now closed Kings Grant Country Club in Summerville. Infinger is confident she can improve with practice.
“I try to play two or three times a week. My friend Clara calls me and said ‘Let’s go golfing’ and most of the time I’m ready and we go,” Infinger said, adding she mostly plays at Shadowmoss where she is a member.
“I can’t see (well) and that has a lot to do with it. The putting, you can’t line the ball up. Health-wise, I don’t have any aches and pains. I don’t have a backache except when I do yard work. I do get tired now, but that’s the only thing.”
“She appears to be more healthy than I am. When I reach down to get my ball out of the hole or move something, I hope I can get back up,” chuckled Polutta, who is 15 years Infinger’s junior. “When I say ‘Can I take you closer the ball?’ she will tell me she can walk. She inspires me, to think she loves this game so much and wants to keep doing it.”
Infinger said she plans to play in the Ladies City Amateur again next year for the camaraderie.
“I’m not comfortable competing,” she said, emphasizing the last word. “I’ve won my prizes. I play golf not against my partner. But I’ve always tried to beat the course.”