published Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Who golfs? Converted softballer Wayne Stewart of Signal Mountain

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    Wayne Stewart
    Photo by David Uchiyama.
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Wayne Stewart loved playing softball in his younger years. He played on a traveling team from the Atlanta area that went as far west as Houston and as far south as Tampa.

As he grew older, when the fastpitch fastballs became too fast and he became too slow playing defense in slowpitch games, he found a new game -- golf.

"I started playing when I was about 40," Stewart said. "I had a bunch of friends that played golf, and that was the time where my body said it's time to start playing something else."

He started slowly. In Stewart's first tournament -- a charity event -- he shot 126.

"I won a sleeve of balls for having the highest score," he said.

But with a refined softball swing, he translated that motion into a golf swing. Just a few weeks later, during a break from a softball tournament, he played Brainerd Golf Course. And he broke 80.

"Brainerd always has a warm place in my heart," Stewart said.

He shaved more than 40 strokes off his game in the first year he played and claims he can get around Brainerd or Moccasin Bend in less than 80 swings.

"I picked it up and I really liked golf," Stewart said. "I've been to Palm Springs, Myrtle Beach, Colorado and a couple other golf outings."

And he still strives -- despite a leg brace to help a foot condition -- to get even better.

But two of the best three shots of his life have come at Moccasin Bend. He aced No. 3 near Christmas and aced No. 10 in March.

"I've got good friends who have been playing their whole lives without a hole-in-one," Stewart said. "I've got three total. I may never get another one."

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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