Fifty years ago, Joe Davie watched with the world as American astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon and said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Davie understood the work that went into the historic moment. He was in on the ground floor while working for McDonnell Aircraft Corporation (later McDonnell Douglas) in St. Louis.

"I did flight test data reduction and wind tunnel data reduction and trajectory analysis," Davie said. "The engineers would come up with a plan and I would put it in the computer for them."

His department also built flight simulators used by astronauts. So yes, when Armstrong and Apollo 11 executed the first-ever moon landing in July 1969, Davie had played a role.

"Not a big role, but yeah, I felt like I was part of it," he said.

The connection lends perspective to what happened Monday at Ironwood Golf Course. Davie, 91, recorded his first hole-in-one.

He was surprised, energized. Yet, on a list of career achievements, man on the moon is tough to beat.

Just know Davie was excited anyway.

His ace came on Ironwood's 120-yard No. 4 hole. A 40-year resident of Normal, Davie pulled a 7-iron from his bag and let it fly. Then, he let it roll.

"I used to hit a pitching wedge on holes like that," he said. "But I've gotten down to a 7-iron and I expect it to roll. It rolled right in the hole.

"I've never been close to a hole-in-one. I never really tried for a hole-in-one. I was happy to get one, though."

The shot of Davie's golfing life came in Ironwood's Prune Juice League, which plays on Monday mornings. As the name suggests, "It's mostly old retired guys," he said.

Davie is proud to be among them. He retired in 1994 from Growmark, where he finished out his career in the data processing and systems areas. 

He majored in math and physics at Southern Illinois. There was no engineering degree available at the time, so Davie "just took all the math and physics I could."

It led to a career with several stops, and at each Davie joined a weekly golf league. He's always liked the game, enjoyed the escape and serenity it offers.

At 91, it is therapeutic. A long, cold winter had Davie on the brink of skipping the Prune Juice League this year. Instead, he re-upped.

"I'm glad I did," he said. "When you get out on the golf course, all those little aches and pains go away and you forget about them."

Monday, he made a memory while playing with Gary Grant, Dennis Black and Jim Souk. They watched Davie's drive bounce in front of the green and roll up nicely into the cup, as if he'd worked out the calculations in advance.

Tuesday, Davie was still processing it. "I want to call them up and say, 'Did that really happen?' " he said.

He smiled. There is a lot of small town southern Illinoisan in Davie, who has been married to his wife, Charline, for 68 years.

"It only gets better," he said of their union.

Asked for his hometown, Davie replied, "Ware."




"That's the name of the town ... Ware," he said.

He's been through that a lot. Ware is a small, unincorporated community in Union County near Jonesboro, humble roots that made the moon landing stuff even more special.

"For a boy off the farm in southern Illinois, that was really exciting," he said.

Monday's swing picked up the heart rate as well. It offers hope for those of us who've never had a hole-in-one that didn't involve a clown's mouth or a pirate ship.

"Keep trying man," he said. "You never know what might happen if you try."

You could fly high, and make a perfect landing.

Contact Randy Kindred at (309) 820-3402. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_kindred


Sports Editor

Sports editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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