At 91 years old, James “Shorty” Gordon hasn’t slowed down.
He still works four nine-hour shifts cutting hair each week, walks a mile-and-a-half each day, mows his own lawn, trims the shrubbery and is active in his church.
And he also still plays golf with the same foursome he’s played with for the past 25 years every Monday and Wednesday.
Not only does Gordon still play the game he took up on a whim when he was 64, but he also plays it as well as ever.
“I can’t hit it quite as far as I used to, but I still hit it right down the middle,” he said.
Earlier this month, Gordon knocked a tee shot straight down the fairway, onto the green and into the cup for a hole-in-one on the 149-yard No. 10 hole at Riverside Golf Course.
“It was on a par three down at the bridge (over the Cumberland River) and I hit a 3-wood,” Gordon said. “I hit the green, and it looked like it was going to hit the pin, but went past it and up on the hill. The ball must have been spinning because it rolled back and into the hole.”
Gordon didn’t see the ball go into the hole, but a couple of the other players did.
“I thought it went in the sand trap in the back,” Gordon said.
It was Gordon’s second hole-in-one. He also made an ace at Riverside when he was 81.
Gordon said he is still able to drive the ball 185 yards and shoots in the 90s consistently.
“He’s the only fellow I know who keeps getting better the longer he plays,” said Vince Overton, a friend of Gordon’s for more than 60 years who hangs out at the Village Barber Shop in Old Hickory, which Gordon used to own and where he still works.
When Gordon returned from serving in the Navy in World War II in 1948, he set up shop across from the YMCA, which is now the Old Hickory Community Center.
Today his name along with the others from the community who served is on a brass plaque across from the barber shop at Old Hickory Veterans Memorial Park.
“They say his was the greatest generation ever, and Shorty is the best of the best,” said Donald Vaughn, who bought the shop from Gordon. “He has not only seen it all, but done it all. He’s a treasure. He comes into work every day except Thursday. And I’ve told him he can come and go as he pleases. He can play golf anytime he wants.”
Along with Riverside, Gordon and the others in his group — Bob Patterson, 79, John Shremmens, 83, Jim Burnett, 69 and Phil Spears, 80 (who no longer plays after having one of his legs amputated, but rides along and keeps score) — play at Nashboro, Windtree, Two Rivers, Pine Creek and Long Hollow.
Gordon also has made two eagles — one at Long Hollow and the other at Sycamore Hollow.
“I’ll be 92 in February, and I have no plans of slowing down anytime soon,” Gordon said. “I still enjoy playing, and I’m still pretty good.”
Nashville comedian stars in new ESPN commercial
You will be seeing plenty of Nashville comedian Nate Bargatze during the college football season.
Bargatze recently spent two days in Los Angeles shooting a commercial for ESPN/AT&T College Football.
The spot will start airing Sept. 3, when the season kicks off for most teams, and run through the season.
Bargatze, a Donelson Christian Academy graduate and rabid Vanderbilt fan, has appeared several times on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
He also has performed at Bonnaroo.
Nate’s father, Stephen Bargatze, and former Austin Peay and Trevecca head basketball coach and Vanderbilt assistant Ron Bargatze are cousins.
In fact, Ron considers himself Nate’s unofficial golf coach. They play regularly at Old Hickory Country Club.
Book credits Tennessean sports writer for Olympic Creed
A book published Aug. 16, “The Olympics: An Unauthorized Unsanctioned History,” suggests the Olympic Creed was based on the writings of legendary Tennessean sports writer Grantland Rice.
Author Dennis M. Keating provides credence to the role Rice, a Murfreesboro native and Montgomery Bell Academy and Vanderbilt graduate, played in the section of his book on the Olympic Creed based on a 108-year-old Tennessean story.
The newspaper story points out that during the annual Vanderbilt Alumni dinner, Rice recited one of his poems, “Alumnus Football,” which encourages the reader to “Keep coming back” and be standing on the battle line at the end.
The final stanza states, “For when the one Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He marks — not that you won or lost — but how you played the game.”
The final words of the Olympic Creed: “The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
The Olympic website indicates the Olympic Creed was inspired by the words of Anglican Bishop Talbot in the 1908 Games in London. Keating, however, believes Talbot, an avid sports fan, was inspired by Rice’s poem.
In the acknowledgements of his book, Keating gives special thanks to Debbie May, a Nashville librarian who assisted him with his research.
The book is available at amazon.com.
Vaughn ready for more touches at Illinois
Former Pearl-Cohn running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn is prepared to carry a heavy load heading into his sophomore season at Illinois.
He’s basing that on what new Illini coach Lovie Smith has told him.
“Coach Lovie was telling me about 20 or 30 carries,” Vaughn told The Daily Illini. “I’m ready for that.”
Vaughn was Illinois’ leading rusher last season when he averaged 14.3 carries per game. He finished with 723 yards and six touchdowns.
Smith has made it clear he plans to run the ball a lot more than former coach Bill Cubit did.
“(Vaughn) is our bell cow,” Smith said. “In order for us to have success with our running game, Ke’Shawn Vaughn has to have a good year. He realizes that, and from what I’ve seen, he has a chance to do that.”
Vaughn carried the ball 231 times in his senior season at Pearl-Cohn and rushed for 2,646 yards and 45 TDs.
Nashville rugby team to be featured on ‘SportsCenter’
The Nashville Grizzlies rugby team will be featured in a 45-minute documentary Sunday on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
The documentary is about the 2016 Bingham Cup, a biennial international non-professional gay tournament that was played in Nashville in May.
The producer was moved by the passion of the Grizzlies and how many of them had been inspired by Mark Bingham, the deceased player for whom the tournament is named after, and decided to profile the team.
Vanderbilt needs help with Wallace documentary
Anyone with audio or video tape of Vanderbilt basketball games or practices from 1966-70 is asked to allow it to be used for a documentary being produced by the school on Commodores great Perry Wallace, the first African American to play in the SEC.
If you are able to help out, contact Rod Williamson at 615-322-4121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ex-Riverdale/TSU player is in the movie ‘Greater’
Former Riverdale and Tennessee State football player Tyler Lusk is featured in the movie “Greater,” which is now in theaters.
The movie is based on the life of former Arkansas offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth, who was told in the early 1990s he wasn’t good enough to play for the Razorbacks and then became a two-time All-SEC selection and a player some consider the greatest walk-on of all time.
Lusk, a defensive end who graduated from TSU in 2011, was working at Dillard’s selling ladies shoes when he heard the production was in need of individuals who could accurately depict football action and represent players from the past, so he auditioned.
Lusk quit his job at Dillard’s after receiving a call-back informing him he’d been selected for the movie, which was filmed in Fayetteville and Little Rock.
Tech AD is new president of FCS committee
Tennessee Tech athletics director Mark Wilson was selected as president of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association for 2016-17.
The association oversees and aims to enhance the FCS through the playoffs and championship.
Ohio Valley Conference commissioner Beth DeBauche is on the executive committee.
Old Timers golf tournament coming up
The 19th annual Nashville Old Timers Baseball Association Scramble is Sept. 15 at Ted Rhodes.
The cost is $100 per golfer.
Proceeds go toward the group’s scholarship program, which awards scholarships to senior high school baseball players in the Midstate.
To register or for more information, call Russ Pyles 615-238-5308 or visit otbaseball.com.
Georgia Tech softball great joins Belmont staff
New Belmont softball coach Brian Levin hired former Georgia Tech standout Ashley Thomas as an assistant earlier this week.
Thomas was the 2013 ACC Player of the Year after leading Georgia Tech in batting average, hits and runs. She spent the last three seasons playing for the Akron Racers in the National Pro Fastpitch League.
If you have an item for Midstate Chatter, contact Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 and on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.
SPORTS ON NASHVILLE TV
The top five local ratings for sporting events on television for Aug. 15-21:
1. Olympics (Day 11), 15.5 rating
2. Olympics (Day 12), 15.1 rating
3. Olympics (Day 13), 13.5 rating
4. Olympics (Day 14), 13.4 rating
5. NFL preseason: Titans-Panthers, 12.8 rating
Each rating point is equal to 9,902 Nashville homes.
Source: Mark Binda, WTVF-5 program & research director