Steve Hossack: Owston Park veterans ready to celebrate 25th anniversary

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The Owston Park Veterans’ Golf Society will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2014.

Formed just a year after the nine-hole Owston Park course opened for business in 1988, the society is still going strong – although they currently don’t have any female members on the books.

The society, whose members have priority over tee-off times between 9.30am and 10am on Monday and Thursday mornings, currently has over 30 members.

That number includes Jim Cochrane, who went to the same school in Northern Ireland as 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell – albeit around 50 years earlier.

Membership is restricted to those aged 50 or over, with the oldest being 82-year-old Ken Johnson.

“Our oldest playing member until quite recently was 90,” said secretary Eric Whitehead.

Eric organises a series of weekly competitions on Monday mornings throughout the year with groupings being mixed weekly.

Although the various competitions are keenly contested, there is still time for a few jokes and friendly banter.

“Most of the members play on a Monday and I would say around half of them play on a Thursday when it is more of a social event,” said Eric.

Every round on a Monday is followed by complementary coffee and biscuits, provided by course owner Michael Parker and his staff.

It is a gesture very much appreciated by the society, as is the work on the course carried out by Michael and his ground staff.

“It’s a challenging course and it’s kept in very good condition,” he said.

The ashes of former member Sid Thrower were scattered on the course near the little bridge which golfers must cross to play their second shot on the long par-five fifth hole.

“The older members will doff their cap and say ‘morning Sid’ as they walk over the bridge,” said Eric.

“If you don’t do that for some reason you don’t seem to play the hole well.”

As well as their twice-weekly sessions at Owston Park, society members also visit several other local courses.

“Because some of our older members would find it too much to play 18 holes, we have an arrangement at the courses we visit that we just play the first nine holes,” said Eric.

Membership, which runs from November-October, works out at £27 over the year but doesn’t include green fees.

However, all members receive a free round on the day of the Christmas Handicap, held earlier this week.

Anyone wanting further details of the society - prospective members are allowed to play as guests on several occasions before making a decision on joining - should contact Eric on 01302 830689.