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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 28, 2006

At 90, she still has goal of shooting her age

 •  Regan Lee to defend title at Turtle Bay

By Bill Kwon

Sui Lan Wilson, 90, said it's been several years since her last competitive event, but she will tee it up at the Hawai'i State Women's Golf Association Senior Championship at Barbers Point Golf Course.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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FORMAT: 18 holes

WHEN: Monday, noon shotgun start.

PLACE: Barbers Point Golf Course.

FIELD: 124 players. Ku'ulei Ka'ae, defending champion.

No admission charge.

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Don't expect Sui Lan Wilson to be among the names on the leaderboard in the Hawai'i State Women Golf Association Senior Championship at the Barbers Point Golf Course on Monday.

Wilson would be happy if she can just shoot her age.

"Maybe some day I will," said the 90-year-old Waimanalo great-grandmother, who could be the oldest ever to play in a local golf tournament.

"She's unbelievable. She still drives herself to the golf course and carries her own golf bag in," said Leo Ho of Olomana Golf Links, where Wilson plays occasionally with her women's club.

"I used to play twice a week, but not now," said Wilson, who said she believes it has been several years since her last competitive event.

Also playing in the full field of 124 are six octogenarians: Loretta Chang (86), Florence Miyasaki (83), Cathy Kobayashi (82), Betty Roth (81) and Lenora Young and Gay Conklin, both 80. Defending champion Ku'ulei Ka'ae is a mere babe at 52.

Wilson said at first she didn't want to play.

"But my daughter-in-law talked me into going. 'You have to do it,' she told me, because she's playing and would drive me," she said.

"She's still very active and I wanted her to play because I was going anyway," said daughter-in-law Barbara Jean Wilson, also a widow. Her husband, Sidney, Sui Lan's oldest son, died two years ago.

Sui Lan's other son, Lymey Wilson, 67, said "it's fantastic" that his mother can still golf. Her daughter, Maluhia, the only nongolfer in the family, also thinks it's great.

"I would say she's a decent player, straight," said Lymey Wilson, who plays to a 9 handicap. "She used to 'carry' me when we played together in the kane-wahine tournaments before."

Adds Barbara Jean, "She's been to all the other islands to play golf in Hawaiian women's tournaments."

Lymey was taught golf by his father, Henry Abel Wilson. Sui Lan's husband also went by the nickname, "Limey," although spelled differently, because he was English, Chinese and Hawaiian, and his father came from Australia.

With both her sons and daughter-in-law into golf, Sui Lan Wilson decided to take up the game after retiring 30 years ago as an officer at the Hawai'i youth correctional facility for girls in Olomana.

"My husband was always out golfing. I used to call myself a golf widow. So I told him I wanted to play golf, too," recalled Wilson, who soon got proficient at it.

It wasn't surprising, according to Barbara Jean Wilson. "She was a good athlete in her younger days."

Sui Lan Ho grew up in Kaka'ako, playing basketball and volleyball in youth leagues with her brothers and later for The Kamehameha Schools (Class of 1933) and the University of Hawai'i against local club teams despite being a little more than 5 feet 2. She also was an accomplished bowler.

If golf, at first, whetted her competitive nature, it is now more of a social game, said Wilson, who has 11 grandchildren.

"Now, it's my only exercise other than when I do yard work or go shopping and spend money. I'm too old to be jumping around. I'm not as eleu (active) as I was. I'm really slowing down. It's terrible. (Golf) gives me a chance to socialize, get some exercise, get together with the girls and do a little 19th-hole. I drink beer, but not too much."

She has had two holes-in-one, both at Olomana "years ago," and once played to an 18-handicap.

What is it now?

"I don't want to tell you what it is," she says.

One thing's for sure, though.

She's looking forward to the day when she can shoot her age.


Condolences to Peter Suemori, director and general manager of the Hawai'i Kai Golf Course, whose wife, April, died Sept. 17. She was 64.

She also is survived by daughter, Shannon, and son, Shane. Also, brother, Jack Matsumura; sisters, Anna Asinsin, Grace Kim, Rena Morikawa, Muriel Maruyama and May Nakakura.

April was an avid golfer and continued to play despite battling lung cancer for the past five years.

She always looked forward to playing in the Louis Vuitton Charity Cup benefit golf tournaments at the Mauna Lani Resort, according to her husband of 36 years.

Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday at Diamond Head Mortuary, with visitation starting at 2 p.m.