It was tall tales all round at Cronulla when Club stalwart Ben Lee celebrated his ‘ton’ surrounded by family and a bunch of his closest mates.
To mark the occasion, the club’s latest Centurian received a couple of congratulatory messages from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, and the Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, as well as a formal letter signed by Martin Slumbers of the R & A.
A born and bred local, Lee’s association with the game began early, caddying for some of the locals at the ripe old age of seven.
“I had to walk through a tea-tree jungle from Dolans Bay road to the course.
“Back then the members came back to the club for a big dinner, so while they ate, we took their clubs and played a few holes.”
Lee caddied for his fair share of colourful personalities over the years, including a few from Sydney’s horse racing fraternity, and also the immortal cricketer, Don Bradman.
“The bookies and jockeys often played on Saturdays. It was very profitable
“I caddied for Don Bradman; I was about 11. He had a handicap of one and played nine holes.
“We only carried seven clubs for them back then, not the 14 of today; he hit the ball as far as most today. Imagine how he’d go with metal clubs.”
World War II played its part in Lee’s twenties, and after seeing action in Papua New Guinea, Lae, and The Coral Sea, Lee joined Cronulla on his return.
“I joined in 1950, put three cards in, and played off 16.”
A proud club man, Lee’s name adorns most of the honour boards in the club’s foyer and is very proud of his record. Asked about his biggest feat on the course, Lee was quick to say his win in the Cronulla Cup in 1951.
“I won the Cronulla Cup with a par round off 12, and the handicapper docked me six shots on the spot!” he grinned in a way that let you know he still hadn’t got over the injustice of it all.
These days, and despite his advancing years, Lee still enjoys a couple of games a month, albeit in cart.
“I sit in the cart, my good friend Leo does the driving.
“Sometimes we play 18, but usually nine is good,” he smiled.