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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 19, 2018

Pekin couple golfs all 99 counties

By Justin Webster | Aug 09, 2018
Photo by: Photo submitted The Eighmys and their grandchildren are, from left, front row, Lincoln, Fynn, Zoey, Saylor and Blythe; second row: Carol, Piper, Harrison and Mark. Their six grandkids, two sons and their spouses will all play the final course in Decatur County this Saturday when they finsih their quest to play all 99 counties in the town of Leon.

Mark Eighmy made some smart decisions 50-plus years ago that first got the attention, and then affection of his now long-time wife Carol who he will be completing a 99-county golf trek with this Saturday in Leon.

Many moons ago, during the back-half of the ‘60s, Mark, then a sophomore at Mt. Ayr High, noticed Carol in typing class where she was punching through the keys at a much faster rate than the already distracted young Eighmy boy.

Mark recalls turning 16 and obtaining his license on a Thursday and having his first date planned for Saturday night with Carol.

The only problem was that Mark didn’t have a car, although he did have an idea.

“My dad had a ‘65 Pontiac Catalina and I starting washing it Saturday morning before he caught on to my scheme and asked what was up,” explained Mark.

“I told him that I had a date with Carol and he let me use it and the rest, as they say, is history,” said the smiling husband all these years later.

When Mark and Carol started dating as sophomores at Mt. Ayr, Carol’s father was an avid golfer and her whole family played the game. The second smart decision Mark made after washing/borrowing his father’s car, was learning the unfamiliar game his future father-in-law loved.

Not only did the pair fall in love, but their love for the game flourished and they eventually shared that passion with their two sons.

The pair got married in August of 1970 after their sophomore years of college and finished their degrees together in Missouri before moving to Pekin in 1972 when Mark took the Industrial Arts teaching position.

Carol spent a year working in Fairfield, before joing the Pekin teaching staff as the business teacher.

Mark taught at the school for 18 years while the pair raised their sons Nathan and Brandon in the Panther school district where they participated in both music and sports.

“It was a great place to raise kids,” said Carol. “There were wonderful people and a strong school system with strong music and sports and our kids learned a lot about life there.”

Carol taught in the district until 2002 even though Mark went into business for himself back in 1990.

Let’s start counting

One day, Mark thought outloud to Carol, “We’ve golfed a lot in Iowa, why don’t we try to play all 99 counties?”

The couple started retro’ing in counties that they had already played at least nine holes in and together.

By default, the first course would have been Ringgold County and the links at Mt. Ayr since that is where the pair is from.

Recently, they played at Rustic Ridge and Eldridge and had such a fun time in the clubhouse following their round, that the locals invited them to move there.

One of their least favorite rounds came in Osceola County in Northern Iowa when they had to play through an uncomfortable amount of weather on the course in Sibley.

Mark concedes that when it comes to safety, Carol takes the lead and is the one watching for lightning.

Outside of that, Carol said, “We’ve played some bad rounds and courses, but I don’t want to toss anyone under the boss.”

That being said, she did say there is possibly a dark cloud sitting over a course in North Dakota after the couple shanked their way through a round on a recent return trip from out west.

No. 99

This Saturday, the Eighmys, their children and grandchildren will all play the final course together when the group travels to Leon to check off Decatur County.

“We haven’t decided yet what we will do next,” explained Carol who emphatically added, “We are not starting over again though!”

She said the pair has played in 26-27 states and will continue to play whereever they can, but does not plan on hitting the other half of the United States.

No clue what Mark wants to do, but Carol did mention something about a “Tenderloin Trail across Iowa” that I asked if I could join them on.

Favorites

Outside of the lower 48, the couple has played in Canada, Wales and Puerto Rico and will get a round in this September when they travel to Ireland.

As far as dream courses, they both say Augusta and the old course at St. Andrews, with Mark actually hitting one shot at the latter during a brief visit with light fading and no time to actually play.

Partners

For the ladies, Carol would choose hall of fame golfer Nancy Lopez while Mark would take hall of famer Joanne Carter. Mark thinks Arnold Palmer would make for a fun foursome while Carol chose her dad for obvious reasons.

The secret

“We don’t keep score or worry about it evening out,” shared Carol.

“We are both active and have different interests other than golf,” explained Mark. “Golf is what brings us together,” he added.

Mark likes to hunt and fish while Carol prefers movies and shopping.

“We both like golf and we both like each other,” simplified Carol.

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