Co Down pensioner George ‘Geordie’ Martin has been playing golf for 26 years, but incredibly he only took the game up at the age of 62.
The sprightly octogenarian, a member of Lagan Valley Golf Society, is a regular on the fairways at Down Royal Park Golf Course, not far from his Maze home.
The 88-year-old retired farmer tees it up several times a week and also keeps himself active by playing bowls for Broomhedge and Lisnagarvey. He even manages to find time for his other favourite pastime, gardening.
“I was a farmer and hadn’t time for golf, but I took it up a few years before I retired at 65,” Geordie explained.
“I was a member of the big course (Down Royal) for many years, but now I just play in the society.
“I just love the game, that’s all. And the craic in the society is big value. The people in it are the best. I play golf with a lot of them and bowls with a lot of them.”
At one time his handicap was as low as 11, but Geordie says it’s “crept back up” in recent years. Yet at 16 it’s still a handicap many golfers half his age would be proud of.
“The ball doesn’t go as far as it used to, but I still enjoy it. I play 18 holes and walk the course. I don’t use a buggy or anything,” he continued.
Asked what the secret is to being so fit at 88, the married father-of-three and grandfather-of-five said: “I don’t really know. I just keep going. There’s nothing else you can do.
“I had prostate cancer about six years ago but it didn’t knock me off my pad. I just played on. I was getting treatment but I played away. Thankfully I’m clear of it now.”
Despite his advancing years, the Lurganure Road man says he’s no intention of quitting playing golf or bowls anytime soon.
Derek McConville, the secretary of Lagan Valley Golf Society, says Geordie has “the touch of (Jack) Nicklaus”.
“Geordie is playing off 16 and winning regularly. One of his latest scores was a staggering 46 points; truly remarkable.
“Watching Geordie sometimes is like watching golf on television. He is more or less always on the fairways, rarely misses the par threes in one and rarely needs more than two putts to put the ball away,” he said.
Derek described Geordie, a former winner of the club’s ‘Best Golfer’ prize, as “a class act”.
“He has a summer wardrobe that put any professional to shame!
“He starts the game with a smile and finishes it with a gentleman’s handshake and a smile, then heads home for his Saturday fry-up,” he added.
• Lagan Valley Golf Society welcomes new members for friendly golfing at Down Royal on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Tee-off times from 8.30am, meeting at the Down Royal Racecourse Clubhouse.