WPI
Wire, Vol. 10, No. 3 - Fall 1996

Still swinging after all these years

Jim Hinman '41CHE may be 77 years old but on his better days not many golfers of any age can beat him at his gamečespecially on his home turf at the Reservation Club in Mattapoisett, Mass., where he won the club championship in 1982 at the age of 64.

"I've slowed down a little since I won that championship and played in the Massachusetts State Amateur Tournament," Hinman admits. Last year he had an 8 handicap and beat his age 10 or 12 times. This year, he says his handicap is a bit higher.

A retired sales manager and engineer from Revere Copper & Brass, Hinman previously played golf from coast to coast as a designated amateur for the company. "One of my favorite topflight club memberships was at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois," he says.

At one point in his career Hinman held a 1-3 handicap range and was able to play in amateur and open championships in several different states. In the 1950s he won the U.S. Aluminum Association Championship at Sam Snead's club at White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia. "I met Sam in the Pro Shop there," Hinman recalls. "He kindly offered me a few words of advice and encouragement."

Over the years, Hinman and his family moved several times. But moving didn't hurt his golf game. "I won golf club championships in four different states," he notes.

Hinman retired in 1984 from Revere at the age of 65, following 42 years of service on and off the golf course.

"My love affair with golf began in 1927 when I was an 8-year-old in Skaneateles, N.Y.," Hinman said in a recent interview with The (New Bedford, Mass.) Standard-Times. "Back then you had to be wealthy to play golf, or else you became a caddy. I became a caddy."

Hinman says caddies were well-schooled about their golf courses and were given ratings based on knowledge and years of experience. "Along with the groundskeepers, they were expected to see that the courses were kept in tiptop shape," he says.

In those days golf clubs had hickory shafts and wooden heads, Hinman recalls. "The club heads for the irons were thin, flat forgings and not very effective," he claims. "My idol, Bobby Jones, proved it was the player and the swing, not the equipment, that won championships."

There were no wooden golf tees to drive balls from back then. In lieu of tees, Hinman explains, caddies made cones out of sand and water. Players would then hit their golf balls off the cones. After nearly 70 years of golf, Hinman continues as an active player in a 35-member seniors' group that includes two members in their 90s. "On my good days I can keep up with them," Hinman jokes. Besides playing golf for pleasure, he does a little teaching on the side. "I'm a perfectionist," he says. "I really enjoy sharing what I've learned with others."

Ruth Trask

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