Is this the UK's oldest club champion?

The Scoop

Can there be many older handicap club champions than Fortrose & Rosemarkie veteran Maurice Brown? But, as Steve Carroll discovered, age is just a number to the 83-year-old

If you really want to get on Maurice Brown’s nerves, just remind him he’s what some people might term ‘a certain age’.

“A lot of people say to me ‘how old are you now?’ If I say 83, they feel sorry for me.”

They are two digits that have come up a lot recently – in more than a few newspaper columns and during a presentation ceremony that was all about club history being made.

“I said I didn’t like that much,” he mused. “I just want to get on with it. I don’t think age means a lot if you are keeping fit. You just have to take life as it comes.”

Like it or not, Brown is the exception to the general rule.

And that will have made it all the sweeter when the Fortrose & Rosemarkie veteran stuck it to the younger generation when it mattered most – at the gent’s club championship.

Club chiefs reckon Brown’s victory in the handicap event as an octogenarian will take some beating. Particularly as they do things the old fashioned way at the Ross-Shire venue.

There’s two rounds of strokeplay in a day and that’s just to qualify. The best eight then meet in man-to-man combat only a few hours later.

Successfully negotiate that and you’ve got a whole week to think about what you might achieve, and how close your name is to being finally stencilled on the board.

But there are still 36 potential holes of matchplay to negotiate – with a last four clash and final in another action packed day bringing to an end a gruelling competition.

Brown’s been a member at Fortrose & Rosemarkie since 1972 and, in all of those 46 years, he’s hardly ever missed the showpiece.

He’d also only once got past the first weekend.

This time, though, the 22-handicapper was wielding a secret weapon.

“I got two lessons from the local professional Rob Douglas. He put me right with irons and driving.

“Then I got a Ping G400 Max driver and that’s really changed my game. I’ve been very lucky with it and my drives have been straight and a good distance. I’ve never been a big hitter and that’s what saved me.

“My game was never up to the standard but this year it’s the best it has been because of that driver.”

oldest club champion

Brown certainly put his new skills to good use. Two nett 73s, on a day so wet it saw his original caddie down the bag for the rest of the competition, got him into the matchplay as the last of the eight qualifiers.

He beat the number one seed, William McKay, 3&2 in his first tie and Muir Morton held on to the last hole before succumbing in the last four.

The best was saved until the final and victory came on the 10th hole as Brown hammered teenager Ben Patience 9&8.

He admitted the scale of the triumph had been a touch unsettling.

“To be honest, he’s a young fella – only 16 – and he did well the week before,” Brown explained.

“He’s a very good player, a nice chap, and I said to my caddie that I felt embarrassed. I felt sorry for the boy.

“He seemed to be trying too hard and he was going for the flag because he felt he probably had to get a birdie to beat me.

“I have never been that in my life – 9 up after 9 holes and I then halved the 10th and won it.

“I’ve never done that before. I was a bit lucky in a lot of respects.”

Having got down to a 14 handicap at his lowest, Brown’s now targeting a shot a hole – hoping the club committee will come down hard on him after he slayed the seeds.

He’s won cups before, and played in victorious teams, but never expected to put a club championship on his golfing resume.

He also never stopped trying.

“They asked me in the shop when I entered and I said ‘I’m in it to win it’. I felt I was running out of time. I felt confident because of the lessons and the driver and I’ve never been like that before.

“I used to enter in the hope that I qualified. I never dreamed I would win. So there’s life in the old dog yet.”

Just don’t go shouting about it.

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