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Bobbie Rose still going strong on golf course at 98

In all her years of playing golf, Bobbie Rose said she allowed herself one ego trip - the time she won the Women's Golf Association of Philadelphia Class B Super-Seniors Championship in 2007.

Bobbie Rose. (David Swanson/Staff Photographer)
Bobbie Rose. (David Swanson/Staff Photographer)Read more

In all her years of playing golf, Bobbie Rose said she allowed herself one ego trip - the time she won the Women's Golf Association of Philadelphia Class B Super-Seniors Championship in 2007.

She was 91.

"To beat those youngsters in the Super-Seniors, those 65-year-olds . . ." said her son, Michael, a notable player in the Golf Association of Philadelphia.

Louise B. "Bobbie" Rose, who took up golf shortly after her husband started to play 67 years ago, now is 98 and can be found three or four days a week practicing and playing at Philmont Country Club in Huntingdon Valley. She has won numerous club championships and tournaments. Even now, she has a 23 handicap.

The Meadowbrook resident, who will be inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame on May 27, doesn't feel her age. She certainly doesn't dwell on it. She asks a visitor to call her Bobbie because "Mrs. Rose makes me sound old." She remains active, playing golf, driving her own car to exercise class, and pursuing her other passion: art.

"I don't know what the secret is," she said last week at Philmont. "I just know that every day has been wonderful. Numbers have never meant anything to me.

"Every birthday, I've known what the number was but it had no meaning for me as long as I was feeling good and doing everything that I enjoy doing. Some of the best times I've had, I was 90 and over. I've led an active life and I've been absolutely blessed with that. I think being a sports person has been helpful."

Rose's interest in sports as a child showed her competitive side when she won at jacks, hopscotch, jump rope and dodgeball. She played field hockey, basketball, and tennis, and swam at Cheltenham High School, and joined almost every intramural athletic activity for women at Temple. She also learned badminton and won the 1936 Philadelphia championship.

She became a physical education teacher after graduating from Temple in 1937 and married sales executive Leon Rose two years later. Her husband developed an interest in golf, and she decided to take up the game in 1947. Later that year, she won the club championship at Ashbourne Country Club, her first of 13 in a row.

"I figured when I started taking lessons, I would give myself a year," she said. "Well, little did I know that golf is an ever-learning game. You just never learn it. It is so frustrating and aggravating and irritating and beautiful and wonderful, and I knew that would be the game I'd play for the rest of my life."

She has represented the game well. She is one of five women in the history of the Golf Association of Philadelphia to receive an honorary membership, joining Glenna Collett Vare, Dorothy Porter, Helen Sigel Wilson, and Meghan Bolger Stasi.

She loves golf for the challenge and the competition, and believes that it has done much in helping her overcome her shyness, allowing her to spend time on the course with her two children, and creating lasting friendships.

"I was very shy as a young person," she said. "I was taller than all the boys and I think I had a complex about it. But it's impossible to be shy when you're in sports. Golf helped me meet friends through the years that have been absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately, it's bittersweet for me because so many of my friends have passed away and here I am still knocking at the door and trying to do the things that I love to do."

Rose has won the Griscom Cup, a WGAP tournament pairing family members of different genders and generations, 11 times with Michael. She has captured four WGAP Mater et Filia events with her daughter, Bonnie George. At age 90, she teamed with her daughter to win the Effie Derr Robey Cup, the same year she shot better than her age five times.

"The most fun I have is playing with Bonnie and Michael," she said. "I love that. I'm not so good any more and they have to carry me now. That's only fair, isn't it?"

Her children, now starring in senior events in WGAP and GAP, have their individual favorites when discussing their mother's attributes. George loves her ability to remain positive, and to listen and get things done. Michael Rose, who will join her entering the Hall of Fame, adores her passion about her family, her golf and her art.

And to think Bobbie Rose may not have had any sort of career in golf had she decided to attend art school after high school.

"I was torn; I didn't know what to do," she said. "I decided if I had to make a living, I'd better become a teacher. But there's not a day that goes by that I don't do something.

"I've got two wonderful things in my life - being physical and active in golf and having my art for my soul. There's nothing bad about that."

Nothing at all.