Wee Willie fifth ace for 91-year-old

Glad Cross (91) with the 9-iron golf club she used to score her fifth hole in one, at the Wanaka...
Glad Cross (91) with the 9-iron golf club she used to score her fifth hole in one, at the Wanaka Golf Course this week. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Glad Cross' golf game started out well below par on Tuesday, but the 91-year-old Wanaka woman finished it on a high after scoring her fifth hole-in-one.

The ''perfect shot'' happened on the 15th hole - known as Wee Willie - during ladies' club day at the Wanaka golf course.

Mrs Cross used a 9-iron on the 102m par-3 hole.

''I was so surprised because my golf was so rough,'' she said yesterday.

''I wasn't playing particularly well ... [then] I teed off and it went straight for the hole all the way and the girls got very excited.

''They heard us at the next tee ... Everybody wrapped their arms around me and danced.''

The celebration continued in the clubhouse when, in keeping with golf custom, Mrs Cross used the Wanaka Golf Club's congratulatory $200 voucher to shout a round of drinks.

She has a special spot reserved for her latest hole-in-one badge - next to the other four she earned at least 40 years ago after scoring aces in Balclutha and Gore, three of them within 18 months of each other.

Her late husband Norman introduced her to the game when she was 35. In her golfing heyday, she held a handicap of seven and represented South Otago.

Mr Cross was a long-serving committee member for Otago golf, and scored two holes in one in his lifetime.

The farming couple were founding members of the Allangrange Golf Club, near Balclutha, and also belonged to the Balclutha Golf Club, before moving to Wanaka in 1980 and joining the club there.

Until a couple of years ago, Mrs Cross had a handicap of about 22, but after her husband died it dropped to 30. She now shoots about 102.

''I don't concentrate as well now because I'm always thinking of him around the golf course.''

She expected this would be her last year playing golf, although ''it depends how fit I keep''.

Walking her labradoodle dog Opie for at least an hour each day helps keep her active, but she prefers to navigate the greens in a golf car during her twice-weekly games, ''because I'm ancient''.

- Golf Digest puts the odds of an amateur golfer getting a hole in one at 1 in 12,500.

The oldest golfer known to have made a hole in one is 102-year-old Elsie McLean, in California in 2007.

The record for the most holes in one in a lifetime, 59, is reportedly held by Norman Manley, an amateur, of California.

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz

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