45-4. Nonagenarian Notions: Elsie MacLean–centenarian, bridge player, hole-in-one golfer

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Even though I’ve blogged about Elsie before (23-4) she seems to me to be a particularly appropriate candidate for Nonagenarian Notions, in this blog about the symbiotic relationship between bridge and golf and the need to include that relationship in the “Lost in the Shuffle” documentary.

Elsie, if you’ve not read that earlier blog, was the amazing centenarian out of Chico, California who not only still played bridge, but hit a hole-in-one on the golf course at 102 thereby setting the record for world’s oldest person to do so.

Of course I googled to check if Elsie was still alive. It turns out, I wrote that earlier blog in December 2011 and Elsie died a few months later at age 107 on May 10, 2012.  Here’s her obituary:

“Long-time golfer, Chico resident and friend of many on and off the green, Elsie McLean died at the age of 107. While she still made appearances the past several years at Bidwell Park Golf Course, where she had played for about 75 years, McLean officially stopped playing golf at age 105.”

I wonder if she ever stopped playing bridge?

Something occurred to me writing this. There are many references by those in the bridge establishment citing the age of serious and social bridge players as a deterrent, a turn-off,  to recruiting young players.

If the number of aging golfers doesn’t turn off the young from taking up golf–and it doesn’t seem to do that–why should it be any different for bridge? No, we’re not the problem. The problem is the way ACBL  and the bridge establishment markets bridge–especially when it comes to tournaments.

The golf world has created tournaments enjoyed even by those who don’t play golf and have lured probably thousands of young people to take up the game.  The bridge establishment, in contrast, has deliberately made their tournament play incomprehensible even to the vast majority of those who already play bridge!

Granted, slowed down and perhaps out-of-date in bidding seniors may be a nuisance for the young (just as aging slow-moving golfers may be a nuisance on the golf course) — but that friction can be mostly avoided by simply not playing together. Has nothing whatsoever to do with recruiting newcomers to either game.

Even the Buffett Bridge Cup, patterned after and scheduled just before the hugely popular Ryder Golf Cup event, has not managed to get some publicity spin-off amongst golfers for playing bridge. Next one is in 2014–you have a year and a half!!!–how about the new ACBL marketing director setting a goal: get an article on golf/bridge and Buffett/Ryder Cups into the lifestyle section of a major national newspaper?








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