Age no handicap for elderly Morrinsville golfer
On your average day, a score of 86 at the Morrinsville Golf Club is entirely unremarkable.
That is, when the golfer isn't 90 years old.
For the 20th time in his 58 years playing at Morrinsville, Mick Conroy shot under his age during Saturday's scramble.
It was the second time this year that he shot under his age on the 18-hole, par 69 golf course, on which he has been playing since 1956.
As a sprightly 89-year-old, Conroy would walk the full 5194-metre course during his two rounds a week.
But now he feels time is catching up with him. Two hip replacements and a pair of dodgy knees mean he now needs a cart to get around.
"I'd like to think it was becoming a regular thing," Conroy said of his remarkable scoring.
"I'm on a 26 handicap at the moment. Number one would be my best hole here. I don't know why, but I guess I get a lot of pars on it. I can't hit it very far, so the best I get now are pars.
"A year ago I could still walk the course, so I am slowing up a bit, but that won't stop me. I'm still playing twice a week, on Saturdays and Thursdays."
A mechanical engineer, Conroy moved from Australia to New Zealand as a young man, and made the move to Morrinsville in 1956 as a construction engineer building the fertiliser works in Morrinsville.
Two years later, when construction was complete, Conroy became manager of the site, and remained in the job for 32 years.
All that time he would encourage workmates to join the golf club, which, he said, hasn't changed too much from the mid-50s.
"It's still the same course, but it has evolved a bit.
"There has been a lot of great work with the clubhouse and that sort of thing, but otherwise the course is pretty well the same as it was."
At his golfing peak, Conroy had a 13 handicap, and held many roles behind the scenes at the club.
He was made a life member two years ago and still helps out, particularly with keeping the bar stocks full.
Despite his body slowing him down, Conroy isn't planning on giving up on his sport just yet.
"I think every golfer wants to play as well as they can, and drop that handicap," he said. "I still want to try and lower my handicap, even though it gets harder at my age."
Although Conroy's 20 strokes-below-age efforts are remarkable, Frank Bailey of Abilene, Texas, held the record for most scores below his age, registering 2623 scores between the ages of 71 and 98.