Date: May 31, 2016
Author: Greg Oakford

Club golf at Rosanna plays a pivotal role in a long life

Taglines and mottos can often be cliché but no words ring more true for Rosanna Golf Club member Reg Ballard than ‘Golf is the game for life’. At 97 years of age, Reg was honoured on Thursday 12 May by the club that he has been a member of for 49 years.  

Reg currently holds a handicap of 24, regularly beats his age and only 12 months ago was the most active member at his club with over 200 rounds played in a single year. Still not impressed? Reg refuses to use a golf cart and walks every round.

Members of the club decided they wanted Reg’s presence in the clubhouse permanently by way of an oil painting. Taking a few sessions to complete, the painting was created by Rosanna member Michael Ball’s friend Keith Nihill who volunteered his skillset as an artist. The timeless painting depicting a legend of its club was presented in front of a packed clubhouse by Rosanna President Neil Grant, artist Nihill and Ball who was instrumental in the initiative.

A beloved figure at Rosanna, Reg’s story is no ordinary one. In 1939, at just 19 years of age, Reg volunteered to join the army at the time World War II beckoned. Serving for his country until 1945, Reg was part of the famous ‘Rats of Tobruk’ and is one of the last surviving members.

Reg sat down with Golf Victoria to chat about his time in the game.

“Golf is my life now. I live in Murrumbeena, I used to live in Heidelberg for most of my life. It’s not only the golf, it’s nights like tonight, the social side of things too.

“It’s a wonderful feeling, it really is,” Reg said on being honoured by his club.

Joining Rosanna in 1967, Reg can remember having a club in his hand from an early age.

“Jack Harris was President in 1967 when I joined. Prior to Rosanna, I played at Latrobe for some time when they had an old army hut there.

“I also played some golf before Latrobe. There was a little course on the property I lived on as a kid in a place called Harrow. The old man and my brother put down a 9-hole golf course. We played with the old hickory shafts.”

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Reg’s fitness defies his age and the competitive juices that have flowed through his veins throughout his life remain a constant.

“I’ve had a few wins recently. A good day might be 38 or 39 points for me playing off 24 at the moment.

“I got down to a handicap of 16 at one point but it wasn’t for long. I was never the best golfer but I love the game.

“I currently play three times per week. As long as I can still drive a car like I can now,” stated Reg.

Club President, Grant was overwhelmed with pride about the way the club had put on such a night to honour one of their own. 

“I think you can see from tonight with the clubhouse full that he’s a remarkable member of the golf club. Whilst most people admire his service during World War II, to see this guy at 97 and what he does, and how he enjoys the club is amazing,” said Grant.

“One of the great things about him is he comes in and has a drink and mixes with everyone. His game isn’t just about golf, it’s about celebrating, socialising and being part of the club.

“He was our most active golfer at Rosanna in 2015 and he probably still would be but he shifted home to Murrumbeena. It was something like 200 rounds before he moved. He still plays three times per week now. He’s a remarkable man.”

Surrounded by Grant, Nihill and Ball at the end of the interview, Reg was reminded about the frequency he plays at the club, he replied, “What else do you do, you’d have trouble otherwise.” 

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