Gary Baldwin an ace in nationals
by REECE RUTLAND, Banner Sports Writer
Oct 22, 2012 | 1182 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gary Baldwin
Gary Baldwin
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It’s been a long road for local senior Olympian Gary Baldwin, who this year qualified for his fourth trip to the National Senior Olympics golf tournament, which will take place in Cleveland, Ohio.

Participating in the Senior Olympics since his 50th birthday, Baldwin has taken part in numerous events over the years, including basketball, volleyball, racquetball and, of course, golf.

While his participation in the other events has started to take a back seat, he continues to participate in the State Senior Olympic golf tournament for a myriad of reasons.

At the regional level, Baldwin might still break out the sneakers for a little basketball. After all, he did make a name for himself in the local community by coaching the Lee University Lady Flames basketball team from 1993-2001, leading the team to its first NAIA national tournament and capturing a National Christian College Athletic Association championship in ’99.

But, the golf course is where he finds most of his success these days.

In 2003 Baldwin made his first trip to the National Senior Olympics, in Virginia Beach, Va. He took home silver in that tournament.

He made another trip to the national tournament in 2008, this time in San Francisco. Last year he made his third trip to the national level, traveling to Houston where he notched his second national medal with a third-place finish.

“There aren’t a whole lot of players that compete in the Senior Olympics. By comparison the tournaments aren’t as tough as something like the Tennessee Senior Amateur. We would love to see more people get involved. It’s a lot of fun and easy to get into. I think people would really enjoy it,” Baldwin stated.

By winning this year’s gold medal at the state level he has qualified for his fourth shot at the national title, qualifying for the 2013 tournament in Cleveland, Ohio.

To participate in the state Senior Olympics, which happens yearly, a competitor has to qualify by winning at the district level. By shooting a specific qualifying score at the state level you become eligible to participate at the National Senior Olympics, which are held every other year.

“We (he and his wife) are really looking forward to that. It gives us a little vacation. We get to travel together every other year to go to these events. I’ve found it to be a very rewarding experience. We get to meet new people, and we get to see some of the same people every time we go,” Baldwin expressed.

“We like to make a little vacation of it. It’s nice to see and play on new courses. They are all pretty nice at the national level. Then, after I get done playing golf my wife and I like to go to some of the other venues to watch some of the other competitions.”

The Baldwins have made a number of friends through his competing over the years, but he expressed his wish that more local seniors would get involved in a program that promotes exercise and builds relationships.

At the national level Baldwin said while he might tee it up against 20 to 50 golfers in his age bracket, he would gladly welcome a larger field.

“Being in sports and staying fit is very important. This gives me an opportunity to do that. It keeps me active, and I really look forward to it, and think it would be a good opportunity for others, too,” he stated.

When asked how long he has been playing golf, Baldwin chuckled and said, “Let’s not go there.”

He later admitted to taking to the course for the first time after he graduated from high school.

He is currently a member at Chatata Valley.

When asked how often he gets out to work on his golf game, Baldwin didn’t miss a beat: “As much as I can.”

He also participates in a number of other local golf tournaments.

“I plan on playing as long and as much as I can,” he said with a laugh.