Few people ever experience turning 100 years old. Even fewer get to celebrate at Augusta National Golf Club.
Frank Hardison, 99, flew from California this week and arrived in Augusta in time for Monday’s practice round.
“It doesn’t take any extra entities to get excited about coming to Augusta,” Hardison said. “But I have to admit – this year is pretty special.”
Hardison turns triple-digits April 13, just four days after the conclusion of the Masters Tournament.
According to Richard Boone, Hardison’s god son, the 99-year-old has been a lifelong golf enthusiast and owns a collection of antique golf clubs. Boone flew with Hardison to attend the Masters.
“It means the world to make this trip a reality,” said Susan Boone, Richard’s wife, who also flew to Georgia for the occasion. “It truly means everything.”
For Hardison, he couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate turning 100.
Despite being 17 years older than the inaugural Masters Tournament, Hardison has been to Augusta only a handful of times. His first visit was in the early 2000s and he’s been to the Masters three times since.
In 1977, Hardison was invited to play at the Augusta National with Chairman Clifford Roberts, but Roberts committed suicide shortly before the scheduled date.
“It wasn’t meant to be,” Hardison said of playing Augusta National. “But I still have a life filled with golfing memories.”
Hardison, whose home course is Sunrise Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., began playing in 1929, when he was 12. Since then, he’s captured numerous titles, spanning from the 16-and-under Southern California Junior Golf championship in 1931 to the U.S. over 80 championship in the late 1990s.
Hardison was awarded a lifetime membership at Royal Musselburgh Golf Club in Scotland for his diligence over the years in helping preserve the history of golf. He’s shot his age every year since turning 68.
“I still love to play,” Hardison said. “In fact, I recently got my driver’s license renewed for another five years.”
When it comes to the Masters, Hardison is quick to admit the hills at Augusta National often prove difficult to walk. Two years ago, at age 97, he was struck by a car while riding a golf cart and suffered a broken bone in his neck.
However, after a year of recovery, he returned to the course.
“On television, it’s tough to tell how many hills are out there,” Hardison said of Augusta National. “But I do my best to climb them. And, you know, if I get tired, I’ll find a seat at No. 12 or No. 16 – where the action is.”
Reach Doug Stutsman at (706) 823-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org