At 90-years-young, Krisker still driving them straight down the fairway

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 12, 2005

[1/6/05]Vi Krisker stepped to the putting green, white buttoned-down shirt equipped with a gold Cupid pin.

She took the putter that was given to her, lined up the shot and … sink. One more time, a photographer asked. She complied, measured the putt and … sink.

“That’s not even my putter,” she said with a chuckle. “I’ve never used that one before.”

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The putter she uses was given to her as a gift years ago when she was a star at the Vicksburg Country Club. It came from Jacksonville, Fla., and despite the advances in club technology, Miss Vi, as everyone calls her, still sticks with old reliable.

Whatever works, right?

Miss Vi has been sinking putts for the better part of 60 years. On Wednesday, the eve of her 90th birthday, she was given a surprise birthday party at Clear Creek Golf Course.

“I was some kind of surprised,” said Miss Vi, who was treated to plenty of food, the good wishes of friends and a lifetime membership to Clear Creek, which was given to her by the Warren County Parks and Recreation Department.

The party was a testament to a career that has landed her two Vicksburg Country Club tournament championships, a hole-in-one and one of the straightest, dead-center tee shots one will ever see.

Her game had to be put on hold after she injured her shoulder in a fall in November. For the past six weeks, her arm has been wrapped in a sleeve, bent at the elbow. Only days ago did the cast come off. She said the doctors would not give her a timetable as to when she can return to the course.

“With that sleeve off,” Miss Vi said, “I can practice putting on the carpet at home.”

Miss Vi grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and picked up the game because she enjoyed the outdoors. In the her youth, however, ladies weren’t allowed to play at many of the courses.

Add to that the colder weather in the Midwest, and she could only play on certain days and times.

In 1953, she and her husband moved to Vicksburg when he was transferred here by the Westinghouse Corporation which opened a manufacturing plant on U.S. 61 South, now Cooper Lighting. One of the first things she did was join the country club.

“I couldn’t believe you could play whenever you wanted,” she said.

The transition wasn’t all smooth, though. Many of the country club ladies had strong southern accents; Krisker’s was deep Ohio Yankee.

“A lot of them thought I was snippy because I wouldn’t talk to them,” she said. “I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Well, they said later they couldn’t understand what I was saying either.”

Miss Vi used the language of golf to communicate into a polished player. Her drives always find the fairway, and beware if she only needs a chip-shot to win a match.

Miss Vi said long ago a teacher told her to line up her front shoulder to where she wants the ball to go and always keep her back straight.

She’s been driving them straight ever since.

The Clear Creek Ladies are about to start another season soon. Miss Vi is just hoping that her shoulder heals enough for her to get back on the fairway.

Doctors have told her to wait and see. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem fitting for Miss Vi to have to wait and see. She’s never waited, always gone after it and usually has gotten it.

Besides, Miss Vi is at home on the golf course. She’s been driving, chipping and putting for more than 60 years. Anyone who thinks a little shoulder ailment will keep her off the course for long is a 3-wood shy of a full set.

Sean P. Murphy is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail him at smurphy@vicksburgpost.com.