By ROBYN BRISTOW
Advancing years and the need for a cocktail of drugs to ward off the effects of rheumatoid arthritis is not going to drive John Doak off the golf course anytime soon.
“I will play until I can’t,” says the soon to be 90-year-old Amberley man who regularly plays 18 holes at the Scargill club, which he joined 40 years ago.
While his love of golf gets him turning out for regular club days, it is the camaraderie he enjoys the most.
“Some days I am pretty disgusted in my golf. But I carry on playing because of the fellowship.”
It provided great solace when he lost his first wife and he was “inclined” to stay home.
“A good friend of mine told me to come up and join the golf club, so I did and it has been my club for 40 years.”
Despite playing down his golfing ability and “mucking up” when asked to play the opening shot on opening day recently, it was quite a different story two Saturdays ago.
He played through 18 holes with 100 “off the stick”.
“That is when I had a good round and was just 10 strokes over from playing to my age,” John says.
The handicap system also gives the veteran golfer an incentive to keep turning out.
“It enables poorer players to compete with a top golfer. It is so good. No other sport has such a good system,” he says.
“I have never been a top golfer and my handicap has never been lower than 18,” he says.
Even though he sometimes resorts to “riding the cart” for the final 9-holes at the club, he still manages to walk the first nine holes, despite having a health hiccup at the moment that leaves him breathless.
Like all small country clubs, he has stepped up to take his turn at the helm as club captain, vice president and president for two years.
He has turned out in the North Canterbury Veterans Golf tournament, once winning a cup for the most points in a season.
He was born in Waikari, farmed at Omihi, and lived for some years in Blythe Valley with his second wife, Alison, who is an active member of the Mountain Goat Walking group in Amberley, a keen cyclist and belongs to the Motor Caravan Association.
John’s interest in cycling came when he was on a caravan rally at the Waikari Domain. A fellow caravaner sought advice about places to cycle. He invited John along on a spare bike and, since then, John has become an avid cyclist, even tackling the Otago Rail Trail on his own.
On Monday, as temperatures started to reach the high 20s, John was off for a bike ride to Amberley Beach, around the block and back. But not on his electric bike. “I want to keep fit,” he says.