BY WAYNE PHILLIPS
SPORTS EDITOR EMERITUS
Andy Chaloux was told many years ago that he would never become a scratch golfer.
Well, he hasn't, but the feat he recently accomplished leaves many of those players who carry smaller handicaps scratching their heads in amazement.
Chaloux has now shot a golf score equal to or better than his age 100 times. He is 79.
Chaloux is a regular fixture at Link Hills Country Club. He has lived alongside the No. 15 hole at Link Hills for several years, which allows him plenty of opportunity to keep his golf game honed.
He subscribes to the theory this way: "I'm awake 16 hours, so I surely can squeeze in a round sometime during that time."
Many senior golfers have as a goal to shoot a score better than their age at least once. Chaloux has now done it 100 times, and he's got the scorecards stashed at home to prove it as he keeps a card for each time he accomplishes the task.
What makes it even more astounding is that he never did it the first time until he was 71.
"Oh, I had gotten close," he smiles. "When I was 66 I shot a 67, when I was 67 I shot a 68, and so on. I finally did it when I was 71, and I had to sink about a 30-foot putt on No. 18 to get that 71."
Chaloux kept that scorecard and has kept them all since.
Chaloux has been a Greenevillian now for 27 years, moving here from Albany, N.Y. in his job with Formex Company. A native of Maine, he recalls that he was told by good golfers years ago that he would never be a scratch golfer.
That prediction turned out to be true, although he has come pretty close over the years, holding a 4-handicap at his best. His golf has been basically self-taught, gaining pointers over the years from playing partners and professionals alike.
He thought about taking some lessons when Art Whaley was the assistant pro under Bob Dibble at Link Hills several years ago. But he stills laughs when he recalls what Whaley told him: "I don't know where to start."
He carried a 24-handicap on his arrival in Greeneville. Head Pro Dibble also just shook his head at Chaloux's plea for some assistance, but the pointers the pro provided did help.
"I guess Art and Bob didn't want me to confuse their golf game," Andy chuckles.
Chaloux has now been retired for some 15 years, which gives him ample time to play. He has played with a number of the same people at Link Hills ever since his arrival in Greeneville.
"There're about 25 or so of us," he said. "We split into groups and have a good time. We pick our teams and play for 'scats,' but really with our game the most you're going to lose or win in a day is a couple of bucks. But it makes for some good competition."
Chaloux credits a lot of his golfing success to the fact that he has had no major health ailments.
"I've been blessed," he said. "I work out at the YMCA regularly, at least twice a week. I walk three miles on the machine. I lift some weights. I'm up by 6 a.m. daily and I feel good."
Chaloux also volunteers to help out in a lot of club activities as well as other community events. One of his favorite volunteer jobs is working at the Web.com Tour event that is held in Knoxville each year.
He now carries a 7-handicap, up a bit from the 4 that was the best he's ever carried.
That's not scratch. But it's pretty darn close.