Good company, exercise in one

New Plymouth Golf Club member Eric Rowlands, left, monitors a good-looking putt by clubmate Jack O'Carroll.
New Plymouth Golf Club member Eric Rowlands, left, monitors a good-looking putt by clubmate Jack O'Carroll.

Together they've been playing golf for more than 130 years.

Jack O' Carroll, 90, and Eric Rowlands, 91, are familiar faces at the Ngamotu golf course, having joined the New Plymouth club back in 1946 and 1950 respectively.

And while they admit they can't quite hit a ball like they used to, the pair said getting out on the course was just as much fun.

"It's the exercise and the company that's good for you. In the paper this morning there was something that said elderly folk need to exercise more, and it's absolutely right," Mr O'Carroll said.

"You can't just sit and watch the TV all day."

During a good week, the gentlemen fit three games in on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

However, if the conditions aren't up to scratch, they'll give it a miss.

"We pick our days. If it's windy or wet we won't go," Mr Rowlands said.

"We probably average about one game a week throughout the year. When winter comes we slow down a bit."

Although a bit of sledging did go on during play, Mr Rowlands said it was more about the participation, rather than who won or lost.

"We just pat the ball down the middle - or try to at least.

"But we can't play 18 holes any more. The most we can play is nine, but half the time we only play four or five."

The former farmer said a lot more than the new clubhouse had changed since he joined.

"It was really only the professional people who used to play. Just about everybody plays these days, which I think is great."

"And I think when I first joined I only had to pay about four pound," Mr O'Carroll said.

A former six-times Taranaki 100-yard champion, and Taranaki rugby wing, Mr O'Carroll has also won a few golf tournaments in his time.

"I've done all right - we both have. We're not extra good, but in our heydays we did OK."

Mr Rowlands didn't exude the same competitive nature.

"I've never been a very competitive golfer, but I really enjoy the company. If you have a bad shot you have a bad shot. You just forget about it and move on."

Mr O'Carroll let the cat out of the bag yesterday and told the Taranaki Daily News he was actually playing against doctor's orders.

"I've got a crook back. I was up at the hospital yesterday and they told me I shouldn't be playing golf. But, hopefully, that comes right soon. If it doesn't, well, I don't know what I'll do."

Despite that, the former electrician and his golfing partner said they would certainly be out there as long as their bodies allowed.

"I'll pay my sub again this year and hope to see the year out," Mr Rowlands said.

Taranaki Daily News