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Jan Petersen, 100, of Duluth smiles as she returns her clubs to the cart at Pike Lake Golf Course on Thursday morning. Petersen golfs in a Thursday ladies league at the course. Photos by Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com

Age and average are just numbers to 100-year-old golfer from Duluth

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sports Duluth, 55802
Duluth Minnesota 424 W. First St. 55802

At 100 years old, Duluth’s Jan Petersen is still attending Lakeside Presbyterian Church, which was built by her father, Jim Falconer.

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She also continues to play the sport her father, the contractor, loved every Thursday morning at Pike Lake AAA Golf Course.

“I’m 100 now and I still love to play,” Petersen said. “I wouldn’t say I’m that good, but I don’t whiff yet.

“It’s a good sport and I like to walk. I like to walk the course. That’s good for me at my age.”

Petersen is not a lifelong golfer, but she is a lifelong athlete, having played softball and volleyball growing up.

She went on to become a cheerleader at Duluth State Teachers College — the present-day Minnesota Duluth — before becoming a physical education teacher and cheerleading advisor at Duluth Denfeld High School.

Though Petersen says she didn’t begin playing golf until after her three daughters grew up when she was around 50 years old, she often accompanied her father to Ridgeview Country Club.

That’s how she fell in love with the game.

“I always went with my dad,” Petersen said. “I was real close to my dad, because he was quite athletic like I was. I just started playing because I love the game. It was just fun.”

Petersen used to play at Lester Park Golf Course, but now plays in the Thursday Morning Women’s League at Pike Lake. In the winter, she plays at Valley International Country Club in Brownsville, Texas. When the weather is nice, which it often is during the winter in southern Texas, Petersen said she plays every day, often with her daughter, Jean McCall.

“She started playing because I love it,” Petersen said.

Petersen has recorded a hole-in-one at both Pike Lake and VICC, with her ace at Pike Lake coming on the 102-yard eighth hole.

She considers herself more of a casual golfer, not often thinking about her average. She said she is able to limit herself to three or four strokes per hole, or five on the longer links, thanks to her putting.

“I do pretty good for my age, I guess. That’s what they all say anyway,” Petersen said. “I’m lucky. I have good health. I’m never sick. I’m just darn lucky I think, darn lucky that I’m able to play. I still enjoy it and I enjoy all the people. They’re all much younger than I am. I think that’s what keeps me going. I have former students I play with now.”

One of those younger golfers Petersen plays alongside in the Thursday Morning Women’s League is Willa Grandaw, 66, of Duluth.

Grandaw began sharing a cart with Petersen four years ago when the two first met. According to Grandaw, Petersen is a phenomenal golfer with an unbelievable memory.

“She is an inspiration for all of us. We really love her to death,” Grandaw said. “We would like to be like her and to live as long as her. She has a positive attitude and she is just a really nice person to be around. I just hope if I’m so lucky to live that long, I have all of my faculties like she does. She is just as sharp as a tack.”

While the hilly terrain of Pike Lake requires Petersen to use a cart, she says walking golf courses when she can and nightly strolls through her neighborhood are what have helped her stay in good health at 100 years old.

“If anybody told me when I was younger I’d live to be 100, I would say, ‘You’re nuts, you’re absolutely nuts.’ That’s a long, long time,” Petersen said. “Keep active. Don’t sit home and watch the boob tube all day long.”

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