If anyone remains in any doubt that golf is a game for all ages then the remarkable 87-year-old Rosemary Reed has surely ended the debate once and for all by winning the Central England Mixed Foursomes trophy – 65 years after first playing in the prestigious competition.
The former music teacher made her debut in the Woodhall Spa event in 1957, before eventually winning it four years later. And more than half-a-century on, Reed teamed up with Australian Steve Toyne to come through seven matchplay rounds in four days of, at times, gruelling weather to lift the title for a fourth time.
Along the way the evergreen pair racked up 5&4 and 7&5 victories before holding their nerve in Sunday’s final to prevail on the 18th against husband-and-wife team Chris and Jo Dyson, to whom they were conceding more than 60 years in combined age.
Toyne, 64, is off scratch but the duo were an average of five-over in each round in the 70-year-old tournament at the celebrated Lincolnshire course, an astonishing number for an octogenarian in the alternate-stroke format.
Reed, who steadfastly refuses to use a buggy, could not be contacted by Telegraph Sport on Monday as she was back out on the course playing a club match – her eighth round in five days. But her son Tim explained how she ensures her game and fitness remains so sharp.
“Mum has played golf for nearly 80 years, getting down to scratch winning County Championships in five different decades,” he said.
“Nowadays she plays five times a week, and sometimes more. She still plays off 18 handicap, and can play to it, hitting it 170 yards off the tee and being deadly around the green.
“She has twice shot her age Gross round the Hotchkin Course [in Woodhall Spa] which is a feat in itself. She says she will never use a buggy to get round and puts her longevity down to ‘clean living’.
"If you’d asked what her expectations were for this event, she would have said, ‘just to have a nice week’. That would definitely not have been the case, however, as she is still fiercely competitive.”
Stephen Vincent played alongside wife Tracy against Reed in the quarter-finals of an event won in the past by the likes of five-time European Tour winner Guy Wolstenholme and were stunned to be dispatched 7&5.
“We knew Rose and Steve were going to be tough when we heard they’d played through the horrific weather on Friday to knock Rose’s daughter out in the second round,” he said.
“But we were still astonished by Rose who nailed drive after drive down the middle before chipping in on the 11th and then hitting it stone dead on 13th to win the match.
“It was really quite inspiring and humbling and we walked off smiling but shaking our heads in amazement. We just hope we are swinging our clubs at anything like Rose’s age. And to be as fit and play well, accounting for good players half her age? In lousy weather, she walked 10 miles a day on a wet track. Rosemary is phenomenal and represents everything good about golf.”