26 PACIFIC NORTHWEST GOLFER | MAY 2019 Happy Tune of the Columbia Blues JOHN EDMUNDSON LIVES IN HEPPNER, ORE., which has a population of around 1,300 souls. Located in northeast Oregon, Heppner was founded in 1872, is the seat of Morrow County, and sits just off Highway 74 about 185 east of Portland. The town is home to Willow Creek Country Club, a 9-hole par-30 layout. “For a town of our size, that’s about all we can accomplish,” John says. To the north of Heppner is the Columbia River, and to the southeast are the Blue Mountains. And John plays regularly in events conducted by the Columbia Blue Senior Golf Association, or the “Columbia Blues.” “We have a full schedule of events,” John says. “We travel all over.” When did he get involved with the Columbia Blues? “I guess 33 years ago now,” he says. “I joined when I turned 50, and I’m 83 now. I started going to some of their Board meetings, and I missed one of the meetings and that’s when they nominated me for vice-president, when I wasn’t there to defend myself.” John was okay with it, though. “If you look in the fine Virginia Undhjem was a regular competitor in the Idaho Women’s State Amateur, which she won four times. Pictured from the 1992 championship are (left to right) Bev Mullans, PNGA Hall of Famer Jean Smith, Karen Darrington (still a regular selectee for Team Idaho in the annual PNGA Cup), and Virginia. Playtime in Idaho YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A PLACE FOR SENIOR GOLFERS TO COMPETE. Just ask some of the 600 players of the Idaho Senior Golfers Association (ISGA). And in the Magic Valley area of south-central Idaho, the name “Virginia” is synonymous with golf. So much so that, after Virginia Undhjem’s passing in 2017, the two ISGA tournaments in Twin Falls now bear her name. Virginia was an avid golfer, a fierce competitor, and one heck of a fundraiser, helping to supply prizes in the events. The ISGA was created in 1979, and in the beginning the schedule included just a few weekend tournaments. In the mid-1980s, the ISGA experimented with a few one-day tournaments held mid-week. These were so well-received that they have now become the norm for all of their 15 tournaments. THE GAME HAS LIFE Those among us of a certain age have this thing figured out. Band together. Look for like-minded spirits. Cast the net wide. Organizations with a schedule of events geared for senior golfers – those over 50 – are thriving. Yes, it is the game of a lifetime. And it is a game that connects the communi- ties throughout the far reaches of the Northwest, and throughout the far cor- ners of our hearts. And we play it forever. Would that we could live forever. John Edmundson on the first tee of Willow Creek CC in Heppner, Ore.