Sports

86-year-old Jim Lloyd is 'a pillar' in Washington, and a legend at the local golf course

He estimates he has played about 10,000 rounds, including a course-record 29 in 1971

Longtime golfer Jim Lloyd, at the Washington Golf and Country Club on Tuesday. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Longtime golfer Jim Lloyd, at the Washington Golf and Country Club on Tuesday. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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WASHINGTON, Iowa — If Doug Dunlap needs a clutch putt, he knows who to call.

“If a club championship was on the line and I needed somebody — anybody — from our club to sink a 4-foot putt to win, I would want Jim Lloyd to take it,” said Dunlap, retired administrator at Washington High School.

Here’s the rub: Jim Lloyd is 86.

No, Lloyd doesn’t play like he did in his heyday. But nobody knows the Washington Golf and Country Club, and its greens, like him.

A retired attorney who has outlived most of his playing partners, Lloyd estimates he has played about 10,000 nine-hole rounds on the course that stands on the south edge of town.

He has a journal of every round he has played since he returned from law school in 1961, meticulously penciled and filed into a binder.

“I’m just one of those guys that likes to keep track of stuff,” Lloyd said. “I have my average every year for hole No. 1, hole No. 2, and so forth.”

Lloyd has been a Washington Golf and Country Club regular for 76 years. Yes, he started when he was 10 years old, tagging along with his father, John Lloyd, a general-practice doctor in Washington.

“He took Wednesday afternoons off come hell or high water,” Jim said. “By God, Wednesday was golf time for Dad.”

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In 1950, as a junior in high school, Lloyd was instrumental in starting a boys’ golf team.

“Russell Bannister was our new history teacher. I wasn’t a long hitter, and Russ wasn’t very long either. We played well together,” Lloyd said.

“He asked if we had a boys’ golf team. No, we didn’t. He said, ‘If you get one, I’ll coach it.’”

After some early resistance from the school principal — “He was kind of a grouch,” Lloyd said — Bannister became the coach (his salary was $50) and Washington had a team.

Lloyd’s trademark always has been his chipping and putting. He was never long off the tee, especially before a 9-inch growth spurt during his senior year took him from 5-foot-1 to 5-10.

“I was steady,” he said.

A 1951 Washington High School graduate, Lloyd was an accounting major at the University of Iowa.

“I liked bookkeeping, I always did,” he said. “I didn’t want to be a doctor like my dad. I was too squeamish.”

After four years at Iowa, Lloyd enlisted in the Air Force Academy. He returned to Iowa for law school.

Then, in 1961, he resettled in Washington. He met his wife, Cathy, on the golf course.

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“I was 28 when we got married, and she was 19,” Lloyd said. “I know some people, including my mom, weren’t too happy about that.”

Cathy, who died in 2016 at age 74, held the women’s club record of 34.

As for Jim, his life consisted of his family (he and Cathy raised two daughters), his practice (estate planning, drafting of wills, real-estate transactions, contracts, deeds, mortgages and taxes) and his golf.

He is an eight-time club champion, four times in match play and four times in stroke play. He tied the club record of 31, then 30.

On June 18, 1971, he shot 29. His notes on that day, simply: “90 degrees, humid and calm.”

A longtime school-board member and past president, Lloyd served in 1983, when Washington started a girls’ golf team. Leonard Kull was the first coach — and the current coach.

“Jim has been on so many committees in town,” Dunlap said. “He’s a leader, a pillar of our community.”

Year after year, round after round, memory after memory, all into that binder. In 76 years, Lloyd has employed only two putters.

Lloyd has aced No. 2 and No. 5, the two par-3s on the course. He has eagled every other hole at least once.

He has made it a point to play at least one round per month. Even in the winter.

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“If he can find a decent day in January, he’ll go out there, just to say he’s been out there,” Dunlap said.

Lloyd is a stubborn old guy. Despite his age and declining strength, he refused for years to play from the senior tees.

“I don’t like the red tees,” he said.

He doesn’t hit far any more, but he still hits straight. And he putts accurately.

“I’ve always liked golf because you don’t have to be a big guy to be good,” Lloyd said. “More than anything, though, I like the fresh air and I like being out in the sun.”

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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