Golf provides a ray of light for an 83-year-old man dealing with dementia

An 83-year-old man is able to be a ray of light to those around him, despite the adversity he is facing.

On a beautiful fall day, sunlight covers the course at the Swinomish Golf Links. These rays of light are not the only “rays” hitting the back nine.  

Ray Souther loves golf.

He says one of his earliest memories is spending time with his father on the golf course. He’s continued that tradition as the decades have gone by, and at 83 years old he’s still golfing every week.

“You just can’t help but have a good time with Ray,” said Wade Iacolucci.

Iacolucci is the Director of Golf at Swinomish Golf Links.

He golfs with Souther once a week. Iacolucci says, just like Ray’s name, he’s able to brighten the day.  

“He’s always looking at the positive side of things,” he said.

Which can be difficult with everything Ray Souther has faced.

“The guys were really upset and afraid,” said Iacolucci.

A few months ago, Souther collapsed on the course due to medical issues. The normal group he golfed with stopped going out with him.

“They ran away,” said Souther.

Keeping Souther on the course is important for his family, because golfing is more than just an outlet; it’s where Ray is the most himself.

“I don’t have a great memory now, you know,” said Souther.

Ray’s son, Kirby, says his father has Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. Kirby says a lot of tasks are difficult for his father to perform. However, when Ray has a golf club in his hand, he’s like a different person.  

“You know it was a huge ask; I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, and I called up and asked if he had any idea,” said Kirby Souther.

When Iacolucci got the call, the answer was easy. He offered to go golfing with Ray.

“You never leave somebody out there to play golf by themselves, He said.

Kirby says it’s one of the kindest gestures anyone has done for him, but the opportunity to golf with Ray has an important impact in Wade Iacolucci’s life too.

“My dad’s dementia is a little different than Ray’s, in that Ray has such a great disposition,” he said.

Iacolucci says he is learning so much from how Kirby and Ray, father and son interact with each other in the face of this disease.

And Kirby is learning too, about golf.

Over the last few months, he has picked up the sport. So, now he can also be on the course with his father.

“That’s the most important, how I remember the time we’ve spent together,” said Kirby Souther.

This upcoming Saturday will make the 27th week in a row Kirby has played golf with his father, and he plans on many more weekends to come.