SOUTH AFRICAN GREAT-GRAND-FATHER STILL PLAYING COMPETITIVE GOLF AT THE RIPE OLD AGE OF 90
(MERVYN BOOTH ON THE 18TH HOLE AT WINDSOR PARK GOLF COURSE IN DURBAN AT THE END OF THE FIRST DAY OF THE 36-HOLE TOURNAMENT HE PARTICIPATED ON HIS 90TH BIRTHDAY ON SATURDAY MAY 12 2018) BY SUBRY GOVENDER
A great-grand-father in South Africa who took up golf in 1956 to keep fit and healthy is still gracing the golf courses today, 62 years later, at the age of 90.
Mervyn Rodney Booth, who was born at Durban’s Addington Hospital on May 12 1928, competed in a two-day 36-hole championship tournament on his 90th birthday at Durban’s Windsor Park golf course this past week end on May 12 and 13.
The tournament was organised by his club, Athlone Golf Club, which is based at Windsor Park.
(MERVYN BOOTH (CENTRE) WITH TWO OF THE GOLFERS HE PLAYED WITH AT THE 36-HOLE TOURNAMENT)
Mr Booth, who is known as “Baba” Mervyn, played in the C Division medal tournament with scores of other golfers, many years younger than him. Unlike a number of his fellow golfers who participated in the tournament by riding around the golf course in a golf cart, “Baba” Mervyn pulled his own cart and walked the 36 holes over the two days.
He also played from the back competition tees instead of the senior “white” tees.
At the end of the first day (Saturday, May 25), the club officials and members showed their appreciation by celebrating his 90th birthday.
(MERVYN BOOTH WITH ATHLONE GOLF CLUB DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON, LOU ZIETSMAN, AND ANOTHER MEMBER ON THE 18TH HOLE AT WINDSOR PARK GOLF COURSE AT THE END OF THE FIRST DAY OF THE 36-HOLE TOURNAMENT)
“We celebrate Mervyn as a legend because we believe he is the oldest golfer in the world to have participated in a two-day tournament,” said Lou Zietsman, deputy chairperson of the Athlone Golf Club.
“He is an example to all of us that you don’t give up on golf or any other sport when you reach such a ripe old age in your life.
“We want to wish Mervyn many more years of life on the golf courses.”
(MERVYN BOOTH BEING CONGRATULATED BY A LADY GOLFER AT THE 18TH HOLE ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE 36-HOLE TOURNAMENT)
In addition to playing in the club’s tournaments on a Saturday, “Baba” Mervyn is a regular at Windsor Park every Tuesday and Thursday. On a Tuesday, he plays in the Brian Angel tournament and on a Thursday, he plays in the Wimpey competition.
Recently on Tuesday, May 8, “Baba” Mervyn playing off a 28 handicap beat his fellow golfers by winning the Tuesday tournament with a score of 44 points.
He told me he took up golf after he was inspired by golfers of the calibre of Papwa Sewgolum, Gary Player and Vincent Tshabalala.
“In my younger days I was a damn good golfer and won many tournaments in Durban and at other golf courses on the south and north coast.”
(MR LOU ZIETSMAN, DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF ATHLONE GOLF CLUB, ADDRESSING THE 90TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION OF MERVYN BOOTH)
(MERVYN BOOTH CUTTING THE CAKE AT HIS 90TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION AT THE ATHLONE GOLF CLUB ON SAT MAY 12 2018)
Life for “Baba” Mervyn, who speaks fluent IsiXhosa and IsiZulu, has not been an easy ride. At the age of seven, his parents moved from Sydney Road in Durban to Swartberg, near Kokstad, to work on a farm called Balmoral. His uncle, Harry Conolly, leased the farm and he recalled that some “political” people should seek shelter on the farm.
“I was a young man and I did not know what was going on. But I was told by my parents that my uncle provided shelter for some very important people who were fighting for freedom.
“It was only later I found out that some of the people he provided shelter to at the farm were Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu. My uncle also provided them with transport to move them from one hide out place to another.”
After attending primary school in Lusikisiki and Aliwal North, young Mervyn attended a trade school for four years at the St Andrews Mission and the St Jospeh’s Trade School.
(ATHLONE GOLF MEMBERS CELEBRATING THE 90TH BIRTHDAY OF MERVYN BOOTH)
After working in Kokstad for six months as a carpenter, young Mervyn moved to Durban at the age of 18. He stayed in Prince Edward Street and at the young age of 24 in 1952 he married Conctance McNeal with whom he had five children – three boys and two girls.
When his wife passed on in the mid-1960s, Mervyn Booth married Kathija Sayed from the Grey Street area in Durban. Despite the prejudices of that time, Mervyn and his “Indian” wife continued with their married life and produced two children – a daughter and a son.
Mervyn is now a great-grand-father and has outlived two of his sons.
“Despite the hurdles of my early life and my tough working life as a carpenter, I managed to spare some time for golf.
“I believe being involved in golf has given me long life. I will continue to play until my last. I want to be an inspiration to others who reach the ripe-old age like me,” he said. – ends (May 18 2018) mjio908(firstname.lastname@example.org)
(MERVYN BOOTH CUTTING THE 90TH BIRTHDAY CAKE AT THE ATHLONE GOLF CLUB ON SAT MAY 12 2018)