Walking nine holes while playing golf on your birthday may not seem like a big a deal.
Unless you are turning 95.
Ralph Jackson of Burlington celebrated his 95th birthday on June 17 by swinging away at Avalon Golf Links, where he was an original member when it opened in 1991.
“The guy is super special,” said Eric Ferrier, head pro at Avalon Golf Links. “He’s my inspiration, even though I may only see him a couple times a year. I just can’t get over how well he does.”
Not only is Avalon Golf Links the home course for Jackson, it’s the only course on which he’s ever recorded an eagle.
“I didn’t see it go in because of a little hill,” Jackson said of his feat on the West Course’s par-3 No. 7 a few years back. “I guess it hit off the green, bounded around and rolled into the hole. That’s what some of the taller guys told me.”
Jackson started golfing at Gateway Golf Course in Sedro-Woolley.
“I wasn’t very good when I started,” he quipped, “and I’ve gone down hill ever since. But that’s where it all started. It was a great little course back then.”
The World War II Army veteran, who landed at Normandy days after D-Day and who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, needed no cart on his birthday round. He walked the nine holes with Don and Lynda White.
The Whites met Jackson about five years ago. They not only golf together, but are also avid dancers.
“He’s really unbelievable,” Lynda White said. “He dances two, two and a half hours straight. Golfing, he’s not bad. He’s a very neat guy. And he’s sharp. He’s a lot of fun to be around. Always upbeat. He has so many great stories.”
Jackson was born and raised in Starbuck, an old railroad town in Columbia County.
He graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Washington State University, and eventually went to work at the Anacortes Shell Refinery after stints working for the state and in the irrigation business.
The father of two, grandfather of nine and great grandfather of 18 made working for Shell his career.
“I worked for Shell for 32 years and I’ve been retired for 33 years,” Jackson said. “They are still paying me.”
He also has Shell to blame for getting him involved with the game of golf.
“They had a golf team out there at that time,” he said. “After that, I just kept playing.”