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At 59, Terry Werner isn’t backing down from younger competition

Terry Werner lines up put during final round Lake-Porter Golf Tournament held PalmirGolf Course St. John Sunday August 12 2012.

Terry Werner lines up a put during the final round of the Lake-Porter Golf Tournament held at the Palmira Golf Course in St. John on Sunday August 12, 2012. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 3, 2013 7:51AM



Terry Werner is just hitting his golf groove. Really

After a lifetime of playing and practicing, the Dyer resident believes his best days are still ahead of him.

Werner is 59 — and he listed his handicap as zero on the entry from for the Lake-Porter Golf Classic. Some of his colleagues, guys who play with him just occasionally, say they’ve never seen him shoot worse than par. That he seems to be a scratch golfer on his bad days.

Bill Falloon, the L-P tournament director, played with Werner last fall in the Will County Amateur. Falloon said Werner played the most flawless nine holes of golf he’d ever seen in tournament golf, finishing at 5-under on the front nine at Balmoral Woods Country Club in Crete, Ill. Werner won the senior division.

He has won the L-P twice —once a long time ago when it was at Broadmoor Country Club (now closed) and in 2008 at Palmira when he shot a final round 2-under 69, winning by three strokes over Tommy Vaughan.

Last year, he played in the final group with two college players, Nick Grubnich and Sumeet Aurora — kids who were bombing drives past Werner’s. He lost by four to Grubnich.

Werner is unmoved by youth. He just likes to compete.

And he has a bucket list of golf goals left to do before he fades away — something that won’t happen soon.

He left his classification open on his entry blank when he sent it to Falloon, making him wonder if perhaps Werner was going to play in the senior division.

Not a chance.

“It was just a joke,” Werner said.

Werner won’t concede to age. He doesn’t care if the kids sail drives 40 yards farther than he does.

He works out with a trainer, practices a couple times a week (he chipped a bucket of balls the other night without ever taking a full swing) and he plays three times a week.

He called for this column from Indianapolis, where he is playing in the Challenge Cup Match at the Brickyard, an annual tournament in which the top eight pros in the state play the top eight amateurs. He and his partner won their morning round. He has qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur twice, making it to the final 32 once.

There was no epiphany that occurred for his ascent to being one of the top amateur players in the area.

He played in high school and then went to work as a carpenter. He got hooked on the game after he started caddying at Ravisloe Country Club in Homewood, Ill. He practiced, somewhat obsessively, by hitting balls in a straight line parallel to fence at Thornridge High School. If his ball drifted off line, he punished himself by hitting the shot over and over and over again until it was straight.

Werner started to overhaul his game in the 80s, after back surgery to repair a ruptured disc, with the help of Gary Sowinski, the director of golf at Briar Ridge Country Club.

Werner’s big confidence boost occurred in the late 90s, when he won the Northern Open at Briar Ridge.

“After that, everything started going right,” he said.

The key to his success is that he’s always kept the ball in the fairway. His bunker play isn’t good, but he doesn’t worry about it much. He’s so straight that he pretty much stays out of them.

He is not long, but he said he’s always working with Sowinski on different shots. He’d like to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open someday (he finished seventh this year at a qualifier in which the top four players qualify) and the Senior British Amateur intrigues him.

In other words, at a time when most golfers are starting to reduce their competitive play, Werner is ramping his up, and loving every minute of it.

That’s why he’s more than happy to tee it up Saturday at Palmira against the college kids, and let it rip.

He wouldn’t want it any other way.



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