92-year-old Holland native puts younger golfers to shame
PARK RAPIDS - Dien Huenink walks up to the No. 4 tee box and whacks her neon yellow golf ball.
Her drive lands pin high a few yards off the green on the long par 3 hole.
Her team grimaces when they miss the birdie putt.
Don't ever call this determined lady, on the cusp of turning 92, one of the "old gals." She puts 20-year-olds to shame.
Dien and husband Bud are regular fixtures at Eagle View Golf Course north of Park Rapids, where they play sometimes up to four times a week.
Dien shoots in the 40s on the front nine, so her 18-hole score is well below her age. She turns 92 Aug. 9.
"Pretty good for someone who started golfing in her 70s," she says modestly.
"I never took classes. So far so good."
She grew up in Holland, at The Hague, where she lived on a diet of fresh vegetables and daily exercise.
"In Holland, you have to have a bicycle," she recalled in her Dutch accent. She loved sports; rode her bike all over the countryside, swam and hiked.
She married a lithographer named Carolus "Carl" Hutten. The couple had a daughter, Astrid. The family moved to Indonesia for a while until unrest sent them back to Holland.
During the pre-war and early war era, housing in Holland was hard to come by. Carl worked where he could find employment. Dien took a job modeling clothes, where she was able to travel throughout Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg. They lived the equivalent of a commuter marriage.
During World War II, Carl was confined to a concentration camp. When he was released after the war the family qualified for a hardship entry to the United States through a program called People to People. A Methodist church sponsored them to come to Minnesota.
Minneapolis was a printing hub and Carl's lithography skills were in demand, said Astrid Bortz. "He changed quite a bit after the war. Holland was too small for him," Bortz said.
The family settled in Minneapolis, then retired to New London, near Astrid's family in Willmar. Carl and Dien wintered in Mission, Texas, eventually selling the home in Minnesota.
When Carl passed away in 1986, Dien stayed in Texas. She's always loved to travel, so she and her women friends took jaunts around the United States.
She met Bud, who also has Dutch ancestry. He had a home on Lake Michigan. They married in 1992. An avid golfer, Bud started taking his wife out on the links.
Meanwhile Astrid and her family had purchased property in Hubbard County because Astrid "always wanted to live in the north woods." Astrid left Willmar and moved to the region, where she took a job at Wonewok, the 3M resort on Big Mantrap Lake. Bud and Dien then decided to leave Lake Michigan and move to Park Rapids to be closer to Astrid. They still winter in Mission, where they golf daily.
"They come here once or twice a week and they're always here on couple's night," said Jan Scott, who works in the pro shop of Eagle View. Cold, rainy weather has curtailed more frequent visits to the course.
Dien swims, bikes and golfs for exercise. She's had two bouts with cancer, a knee replacement and suffers some breathing problems, said Astrid. When the weather is cool and humid, the weather exacerbates her breathing difficulties so Dien stays off the golf course or plays a few holes and goes home. And, like the model she used to be, she dresses to the nines for each round.
She and Bud still travel. This fall, they're going on a cruise through several European ports. They will visit relatives in Holland and Germany.
"She just bounces back and keeps on going," said Astrid.
"Isn't she something?" said Kirsten Craft, Eagle View manager. "She's so active. She's got the key to health."