The Hacker: Peace at last on the great fairway in the sky, but don't play the clergy

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The Independent Online

Old golfers never die, they just get in the way. So runs a recent philosophy inspired by some twerp who complained that veteran players are clogging up our courses.

It was a charge vehemently rejected by club elders throughout the country. None would have been older or more indignant than my friend David who, at 97, could nip around the course quicker than most. Granted, he had a buggy and played only 10 holes, but his shots rarely left the middle of the fairway and two putts generally sufficed.

Up until last year he played weekly with Edgar, who was a year younger. Their longevity was proudly admired by all, especially when they went into the pro's shop three years ago and bought new sets of clubs.

After Edgar died last year, David was accompanied by his son, Peter, or one of his grandsons. His final game, a 3 & 2 victory over Peter, was at the end of November. He couldn't play after that because the course was sowet they banned buggies.

Without warning, David died peacefully in his sleep three Sundays ago, and we gave him a fitting farewell last week.

One of his many other claims to fame was that he was Cardiff City's oldest fan. He saw them beat Arsenal in the 1927 FA Cup final and was a much-publicised guest of honour last year when Cardiff, 81 years later, reached the final again.

Coincidentally, a week after his death Cardiff drew Arsenal in the fourth round. He'd have been back in the limelight.

David was the second old-timer our club mourned last week. Nyall's funeral was two days earlier. At 87 he was 10 years younger, but just as stylish a character.

Colin, one of his many friends, gave an amusing address about his golfing antics. At his best, Nyall played off two, and held a single-figure handicap for more than 50 years. When he was match captain he used to auction handicaps at the winter league dinner and once pulled a player a shot because he saw him smiling on the course. "You're not supposed to enjoy it," he said.

We're all the more saddened by their departure because they were perfect proof of our theory that the secret of a long life involves generous amounts of golf and beer. If it isn't, we're all in deep trouble.

But we were heartened by the words of another golfing veteran, P G Wodehouse, who wrote of a lost friend: "He now enjoys that perfect peace, that peace beyond all understanding, which comes at its maximum only to the man who has given up golf."

That golf can have serious implications was illustrated at another funeral in our locality last week. Father Jack Fahy, a very popular parish priest in Cardiff, played off a five handicap. The story was told at his service of his younger days when he was a priest at Ledbury in the lovely rural surroundings of Herefordshire.

He played in a fourball against Archbishop Murphy, who at one hole had a three-foot putt. His Grace asked if it was a gimme, but Father Fahy wouldn't give it to him.

The archbishop missed it, and six weeks later Father Fahy was posted to Griffithstown in the South Wales mining valleys.