Belfast Telegraph

The oldest swinger in town... Golfer Billy becomes a club champion at 92

By Victoria Leonard

A Co Antrim golf club on the shores of Larne Lough has toasted its new champion - 92-year-old Billy Gilchrist who won their monthly medal.

Mr Gilchrist, a former senior planner at Harland and Wolff shipyard, carded a nett 66 at Larne Golf Club near Islandmagee. Friends looked on in near disbelief as the oldest swinger in town negotiated his way around the nine-hole course.

He didn't even realise he had won the competition until he checked the club's noticeboard two days later.

With a better count returned, Carrickfergus man Billy just edged out another member who also finished on 66.

His 28 handicap has now been cut by two shots.

"I knew I had played well, but to be quite honest I never really thought about it until I saw the results on the board. I'm delighted," Billy said.

"I just play the game to enjoy myself, relax, take in the fresh air and the beauty of where I play, and at my time of life, to stay happy.

"I usually play twice a week, on Thursdays and Saturdays, and I won the medal last Saturday."

Billy also relieved his two playing partners, past-captain Tony Quinn and Drew Greer, of the princely sum of £1 each for having the best card.

His 'prize money' was further enhanced by another £5 from a kitty which a group of friends subscribe to every Saturday afternoon.

Billy will be presented with his medal at the golf club's prize-giving ceremony in October.

The nonagenarian has been a member of the club for around 64 years, and even though he has won a few prizes in his time at Larne, he thought his days of topping the leaderboard might be over.

He added: "I played really well for the first four holes and Tony (Quinn) was also going well.

"I suppose that was a bit of incentive for me to stick at it. He finished with a 71.

"I didn't do anything different to how I normally play and I was with my usual playing partners.

"That was a one-off and I haven't done anything like that in a long time.

"I started playing here at Larne Golf Club when I was about 28, and I am the longest running member of the club and the oldest member.

"The next oldest member would be 83.

"I started playing here as we used to have a cottage in this area and we would be down all over the summer, and the children were brought up there."

Billy celebrated his 92nd birth in January, just weeks before his wife Eleanor died at the age of 90.

"It's been hard at times," he continued.

"I really miss her, but I enjoy my golf and the company. I have got some great friends - there's eight of us who play every week - and hopefully there is still plenty of golf left in me."

Asked what his secret is to staying on top form and if he has any tips for those aspiring to continue playing golf well into their twilight years, Billy said: "I like to get out in the fresh air, and I would tell people to do the same and to enjoy themselves.

"Don't take it seriously."

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