At 97, Don’s still in the swing of competitive golf

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Team Don… from left, Peter Middleton, John Cosgrove, Don Bruce and Wayne Mayo. Photo by Ana Stuart

ISAACS man Don Bruce is the talk of Royal Canberra Golf Club; he’s 97, goes for a walk every morning and continues to compete at the golf course three Saturdays a month.

“Quite clearly, at 97, he’s an absolute inspiration to everyone at the club,” says Peter Middleton, who is part of the “Don Bruce Team” with Wayne Mayo and John Cosgrove.

Peter, 65, of Stirling, became part of the “team” because he wanted to play in the last group on Saturdays and says they’ve all since become a great bunch of mates.

The three of them take it in turns dropping Don home and, if they have a win, they put the winnings into a nice bottle of red.

“We all aspire to stay as active as Don is,” he says.

Don was about 10 and living in Melbourne when his mother decided to switch from tennis to golf, so she bought herself some golf clubs and Don a wooden driver.

“Every opportunity she would take me with her and the pair of us would play golf for a long while,” Don says. “In the end I was hitting pretty good balls.”

So when he grew older, he became involved in some golfing clubs himself, including many around the world.

“About every big country that has a golf course, I’ve had a go of it,” he says.

Former diplomat Don Bruce… at 97 still swinging a driver. Photo by Ana Stuart

Working as a diplomat, Don was sent to Washington twice and became part of a golf club there.

He even ended up marrying a golfer, who he met on a family holiday with his parents in Point Lonsdale, Victoria, over the summer.

Her name was Pauline and after he “let the lovely lady win”, they waved farewell but stayed in contact before marrying in 1950.

Together they had four children, all of whom are in Canberra except for one who lives in Hong Kong.

“I married a golfer, so she understands the language,” he says.

“It’s a great social thing and we teamed up together in a lot of competitions and had quite a bit of success together.”

But his proudest golfing moment remains that time in 2003 when he got a hole in one, which he says is a rare thing for golfers.

Now, as Don’s getting older, he says he’s very lucky to have a few friends who welcome him to play three times a month.

“I’ve got my three colleagues and I’m very grateful,” he says.

The fourth Saturday competition is a stroke round and because (as Don says) he’s not hitting them very far anymore, he sits that one out.

“The other three days I have a whack and I’m not hitting them anywhere like I used to but I manage to get around and have a good laugh,” he says.

But, Don says, he’s still a potential championship golfer, and when asked what his secret is, he says it’s all about “keeping your eye on the ball”.

Which is what he plans on doing until his 100th.


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Danielle Nohra
Danielle Nohra is a "CityNews" staff journalist.

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