91-year-old still hitting the links

Dec. 16, 2013 @ 05:03 PM

Vincent Martino, better known as Paul to friends and family in Durham, was born in 1922 in Mt. Clare, W. Va. So if you do the math that makes Paul 91 years of age. But just look at his picture, and you will agree the man looks much, much younger. If you walk with Paul or play golf with him, you will swear he must be lying about his age. Around Hillandale Golf Course in Durham, this man of 91 is just “one of the boys.”
Paul is a member of what is deservedly called our “Greatest Generation;” he is a World War II veteran. He was an Army Ranger, whose ranks are among the best trained soldiers in the world and perform special operation missions. Paul participated in the battle of Guadalcanal in the Philippines where the Japanese were defeated, and which many historians consider the first big step leading to the ultimate defeat of Japan.  There were more than 30,000 Japanese casualties at Guadalcanal and more than 7,000 casualties among Allied forces. 
After coming back home to West Virginia in 1946, Paul worked at a glass plant called Fourco in Clarksburg, where he retired after rising to a management position. His wife, Mary Lou, was diagnosed with cancer and started coming to Duke Hospital for treatment. On these visits to Durham, Paul would stay with his wife for extended visits, and when he had a moment or two to relax, he would play golf at Hillandale. Now Paul and his daughter, Kathy, have called Durham their home for a number of years. Kathy is a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit at Duke Hospital.
Vincent got the name of Paul through his love of golf.  His son is Paul Martino, who is the golf pro at the Magnolia Grove Golf Trail in Mobile, Ala. Paul, the son, being a golf pro, has his name on his bags and equipment, and Paul the father would always use his son’s equipment when playing, so everyone just started calling him Paul. 
Paul’s love of golf started at an early age. He started shagging golf balls at the age of 7 growing up in West Virginia and was serving as a caddie by the age of 13. He has played in many tournaments through the years, and won several, including one in Oakmont, Pa. He once had a handicap of 2, and now at 91, plays with a handicap of 8. He has made 11 holes in one in his life of playing golf. Paul can be found at Hillandale almost every day, and will play from 27 to 36 holes. On those days when it might be raining, you probably will still find Paul in the clubhouse. You see, Hillandale Golf Course is like a second home to Paul who lives just across the road. He is as much a fixture around Hillandale as golf pro Karl Kimball, and everyone there considers Paul a friend and one of the family. After playing in the hilly coal mining land of West Virginia for much of his life, I asked Paul what he most liked about playing golf at Hillandale. “The people here are very nice, they treat me like family. When I’m not on the course playing, I can loaf around inside, drink coffee, and talk with my buddies. Also, I like the course here; the land is a lot flatter than in West Virginia!”
Paul has played with many famous golfers, including being in a foursome with Sam Snead, one of the greatest golfers ever. He has played with Fuzzy Zoeller and once played a hole with Arnold Palmer. After the hole with Arnold, Paul continued playing with Arnold’s father. A picture of Arnold Palmer’s father and him together now hangs in Paul’s house. You won’t find a car in Paul’s driveway any longer, as he decided to stop driving a few years back. But a few years ago he got a nice present, a golf cart, which now sits in his driveway.  And to Paul, that suits him just fine, because that golf cart takes him to a place he loves, Hillandale Golf Course.