Old golfers never die
Like the adage "Old Soldiers never die, they only fade away", the old golfers, much respected and revered personages on the Royal Colombo Golf Course, either fade away or hang around until St. Peter announces their tee-off time on his blissful course. While some continue to hit the hell out of the dimples within the capability of their aging bodies, others have sadly opted to retreat into milder sedentary lifestyles of the aged. Some of the best and famous of the latter group are Parakrama and Dhammika Fernando, younger brothers of the golf maestro Pin Fernando, both stylish single handicappers in their tournament winning days. Ifthikar Ismail retired Vice Chairman of Unilevers a Captain and President of the Club, a single handicapper and match winner in the 70's and 80's, his pursuits are now cerebral and academic. Christo de Livera, the eminent Attorney, skilled at parrying words, and former President, now eschews the course and his early haunt the glorious 19th.

Ivers Gunasekera, a brilliant golfer, as he was a cricketer and tennis star is seen occasionally on the course with his inimitable slouch but otherwise devotes all his time to his beloved wife. Tita Nathanielsz, a Ceylon cricketer of Ivers era, hung up his clubs but is a regular patron at the 19th, and is this year's Club President. Mahes Rodrigo, renowned for his cricket and rugby achievements in the 40's and 50's took to golf too late to win laurels but retains his sporting guile with the stationery little white ball in the dry zone of the course.

Sadly missing from the course recently is Dr. Shelton Jayasinghe, respeced medical practitioner, former Club Captain and President with the green fingers. A recent accident when he mistakenly attempted to walk through a glass panel caused injuries that have prematurely curtailed his golf. Famous Surgeon Tony Gabriel, a former President, with a personality as large as his frame, cannot be missed on his infrequent visits. Of the ball beaters still on the course the most commendable is octogenarian Johanne Leembruggen, former Corporate Chairman, playwrighter and actor. Not competitive any longer he punches the ball between tee and green for fresh air and exercise. Also in that age group is Douglas de Silva, son of Timothy de Silva, Ceylon Amateur Champion in 1923, still preserving an immaculate golf swing and a powerful physique that won him many tournaments in the old days.

Dr. K.K.U. Perera at 77, with the old waltz swing and sylph like figure often indiscernible in the gloom, was until recently winning Board events. Norman Chandraratne, a former President was called St. Peter to tee-off a few weeks ago but was able to smartly defer his tee-off and is back on the course as combative as before. Shirley de Silva, former Captain and President, silver haired and a slightly incapacitated by bouts of ill health still makes his four ball group for the Weekend eighteen holes followed by the cup that cheers at the 19th. Joe Perera, the Ex-Josephian Cricket Captain, is still playing to a good thirteen handicap and is regularly victorious in the over 65 senior events.

Two of the longest playing members and the youngest in the septuagenarian league are Solhi Captain, a Captain and President and great winning golfer, who joined the Club in 1957, and Norman Gunewardene, the past President, who played rugby for Ceylon in the 1950's and joined the Club when he hung up his boots in 1962, still indulge in their passion for the game and are regulars at the Club capable of giving the ball a fair thwack. And finally there is Siri de Silva with the hammer and sickle swing who dominates the Senior Division.

As you get older the fairways get longer, the holes get smaller and the clubs get heavier and the final message comes strongly reminding you that you are too old for the R&A game when you fail to physically get out of shallow bunkers.

We believe that a golfer is never old until he is decrepit. So long as providence allows you the use of your 2 legs, and your arms are supple enough to take a half swing there is no reason why your enjoyment and attachment to the game need be seriously diminished. I see that Old Golfers never die - they just keep losing their balls frequently.

SriLankan Airlines soars high again
Peter Hill, Chandana de Silva and Deshini Abeywardena combine again to form a formidable trio behind the 5th Annual SriLankan Airlines Golf Classic at the Victoria Golf Club under the wing of irrepressible Tony Whitham. Digana will be loaded to peak capacity over the weekend when the cream of Sri Lankan Golfers will pitch battle against a strong list of foreign contenders who will be guests of the Airlines. Much will be expected and very much will be given by SriLankan whose lavish hospitality on the golf scene is unmatched.

SriLankan Airlines the National Carrier has been very supportive of sports activities in general and Golf in particular and their support of the Royal Colombo Golf Club, Nuwara Eliya Golf Club and the Victoria Golf Club has been enormous in recent years. Thanks to the formidable trio Peter Hill, Chandana de Silva and Deshini Abeywardena. Tony Whitham will dovetail all the arrangements. He is exceptionally competent but he will most certainly miss the Nola touch.


Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.