Club celebrates 96 year old Terry’s hole in one with free sport for over 85 year old members

Mar 15, 2018 | Jenni Ashford

Exeter Golf and Country Club’s oldest member, Terry Smyth aged 96, proved age is just a number when he scored a hole in one on the golf course in November. In a month that researchers from Birmingham University confirmed that exercise is the holy grail of anti-aging, Exeter Golf and Country Club has announced that members aged 85 and over can enjoy free golf, tennis, squash or gym when they have been a member for over 10 years.

Exeter Golf and Country Club has 15 eligible members aged over 85 who regularly play golf, tennis or squash, or use the gym, and it is hoped this will encourage them to keep it up.

While keeping active has always been associated with maintaining a sprightly body and mind, scientific evidence published this month has proven that physical decline is not inevitable after all.  ‘Aging Cell’ author and researcher Professor Janet Lord of the University of Birmingham, has discovered that consistent, vigorous exercise throughout life will lead to muscles, lungs, fitness, blood pressure and immune systems equivalent to people decades younger.

Terry Smyth’s hole in one may be a record-breaker in the UK as he is six years older than 90 year old Ken Robertson from Leamington and County Golf Club who scored a hole in one last year. Terry still has a few years to go to beat the current world record holder, a 103 year old from Florida, but he’s on track to do so.

Having been a member of Exeter Golf and Country Club for 65 years, Terry has enjoyed four hole in ones over the years, his last one being five years ago. The odds of a hole in one are low at 1 in 12,500…but add in a hole in one aged over 90, and it is even more remote.

Terry said, “It’s exciting when it happens but the trouble is you have to buy the drinks. I’ve had a good long life, with so many good times at Exeter Golf and Country Club.”

Terry believes playing golf a couple of times a week keeps him 10 to 15 years younger. He recalls the days when golf clubs were wooden and members bars were divided into professional and artisan classes. He played off 9 in his heyday and played with some of the golfing greats including Norman Sutton, then golf pro at Exeter Golf and Country Club, and winner of the World Seniors title, who once beat world number one Henry Cotton.

Terry says golf keeps him active – physically, by hours of walking in the fresh air and mentally, with the social chats on the course and in the bar.

Another long-standing member agrees. Frank Holding is a regular in the gym, popping in four or five times a week, as well as playing golf during the summer months. Frank is 90 and is the oldest fitness member of Exeter Golf and Country Club. He’s been a member for over 50 years and is certain the fresh air, talking with friends and keeping his legs moving, is the key combination to a long healthy life.

Both male and female members are keeping active into their late 80s and 90s at Exeter Golf and Country Club with five ladies flying the flag for life-long women’s golf.

Chris Jones, General Manager of Exeter Golf and Country Club explains why free sport is being offered to octogenarians and nonagenarians, “Exeter Golf and Country Club is unique nowadays. We were established in 1895 and have always had long-standing, loyal members, from childhood through to their senior years. We celebrate our older members who keep active, keep achieving, keep learning and keep pushing themselves…they are inspirational for the rest of us. We already offer a discounted Club membership rate for over 80s which includes swimming in our indoor and outdoor heated pools and use of the jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, but we wanted to do something more to keep those 85 and over playing sport and keeping fit in the gym. What better way to do that than to provide it free of charge on top of their discounted swimming membership?”

It has been proven beyond doubt that the more exercise people get, the less their cells appear to age. Preventive Medicine published research last year showing that those who “exercised the most, had biological ageing markers that appeared nine years younger than those who were sedentary.”

Chris continues, “It’s been found that less than 5% of over-65s complete the suggested two-and-a-half hours of moderate exercise a week, compared with 50% of younger people. We are a family club with children, parents, grand-parents and even great grand-parents enjoying leisure and sport together. From our Junior Golf Scholarships launched this week for children, to this new free golf, rackets and fitness package for seniors, we agree with ‘Aging Cell’ findings that fitness should last a lifetime. Terry Smyth’s hole in one proves that.”


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