The golf ball doesn’t know how old you are, and Limerick man Tommy Greene proved it once again when he recently hit his ninth hole-in-one at the ripe old age of 92.
Born in Kilteely in Co Limerick, where he played hurling as a boy, Tommy emigrated to London shortly after the Second World War and lives there to this day.
He only took up golf at the age of 53, having excelled as a middle and long distance runner with the Victoria Park Harriers in his youth, rubbing shoulders with many of the greats of the day and even breathing new life into his running career thanks to the medical expertise of Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a sub-four-minute mile.
He was serving in the British Army when he first arrived in Britain and was posted to Hong Kong.
But when he retired after more than 40 years working for Tate & Lyle in sugar refining, he started with his late wife, Marie (née McMahon), who hails from Dysart O’Dea, near Corofin, Co Clare to play golf.
They enjoyed nearly 50 years of marriage, not to mention a friendly rivalry on the golf course at Ilford Golf Club, where Marie, a nurse, reached an 11 handicap and briefly earned the right to show off at home in golf.
She passed away 10 years ago but Tommy can still hear her whispering to him as he now plays golf at Bentley Golf Club in Essex where he recently mastered the redesigned 12th hole with an eight iron.
“I now had nine holes in one,” Tommy reported proudly from a holiday in Spain. “The 12th hole had just been redesigned and it was only a few hours. It was 145 yards into the sun and I hit an eighth iron.
“I didn’t know if it went in the water or in the trash, but my Callaway ball was in the hole.”
An 18 handicapper, Tommy Assen is no stranger having previously had five holes in ones at Ilford, two on trips home to Ireland and another on holiday in Spain.”
While his driving is now limited to the golf course, he still hits the course two or three times a week and has no doubts about the secret to his longevity.
“Peace of mind, a wonderful wife and an extraordinary family,” said Tommy, who still lives alone but admits he’s lucky his daughters Jackie, Barbara and Madeline all live nearby.
“I stay active and in the winter I walk two and a half miles every day, rain or shine.”
The oldest member of Bentley Golf Club, he ran more than he did in his youth, once clocking 55.10 for 10 miles.
Like Tommy, the historic Miler Dr. Born in 1929, Bannister kept the Limerick runner on course when he feared an injury would end his athletics career prematurely.
“I knew him well,” said Tommy. “I had a serious injury and he’s the man who fixed me. I could barely walk and he told me to walk on grass the next day.
“And I said, ‘But Dr. Bannister, I can barely walk,’ and he just said, ‘Well, you heard what I said. They should be back on track in 21 days.’ Thanks to him I was back in 18 days!”
Tommy has many friends at his club but he still misses his life very much and his golf partner Marie who joined him to start the game.
“I didn’t have a golf club in my hand until I was 53. I had two lessons and that was it; I was bitten by the virus,” he said. “I’m only a five-day member now and don’t bother with the big competitions anymore, but I still play at least twice a week, maybe three times. Golf is most important to me. It was my savior when my dear wife died.
“I can still hear her sometimes now and I remember saying to her, ‘Why are you using that bat?’ like a good husband would. And I got the answer: Mind your own business; I take that shot, not you.’
“One day we were playing together and I had a bad fall off a bench. She just said, ‘Sit down in the clubhouse, have a brandy and wait until I’m done.’ Turns out I broke four ribs, so we had dinner at the Bentley for a while over that story.
“We were very competitive and while I eventually got down to 10, she was lower than me for a while. I miss her a lot but I still have a wonderful family and all my friends at the golf club. It’s just a wonderful game.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/golf/tee-to-green/limerick-pensioner-tommy-greene-remains-on-top-of-his-game-with-his-ninth-hole-in-one-at-92-41615509.html Limerick retiree Tommy Greene remains at the top of his game with his ninth hole-in-one at 92