88-year-old president’s prize winner ‘not old enough for a buggy yet’

88-year-old president’s prize winner ‘not old enough for a buggy yet’
Jim Hannon, winner of the president’s prize at Mallow Golf Club, Co Cork. Pictures: Denis Minihane

88-year-old Jim Hannon is both surprised and embarrassed by the attention his president’s prize victory in Mallow has generated.

“Are you putting this in the paper?” he laughs, querying the newsworthiness of his achievement.

In an incredible quirk of fate, his recent win came almost 80 years to the day since he first arrived in Cork.

The date — September 3, 1939 — is forever etched in Hannon’s memory. It was also the day that the Second World War was declared.

Prior to that, he had spent time in Dublin and Kilkenny before his father, who was in the army, was relocated to Cork.

Golf came a little later in life for Hannon — he played pitch and putt for years before becoming a member of Mallow GC in 1974.

He has been, in his own words, ‘a competitive golfer’ who enjoyed the pressure that comes with playing in competitions over the past four decades. In his best days, he played off a handicap of seven and had, in his own words, “some successes over the years”.

But nothing that generated the sort of attention that has followed his most recent success in the club president’s prize.

88-year-old president’s prize winner ‘not old enough for a buggy yet’

“I had 42 points,” he admits. “Two birdies, at the 15th and 16th, a par 4 and par 3 respectively.

“I didn’t know that I had won until a few hours later when they rang me that night to tell me. I didn’t think 42 points was good enough, to be honest. There were five others on 42 points but I won on the back six.”

The round, like every one he enjoys in Mallow, was done on foot. “The walk is no bother to me. I’m not old enough for a buggy yet,” he laughs.

If there is a secret to his success, he is not sharing it.

“I haven’t a clue. I’m healthy, and probably healthy because of golf. I’m out there in Mallow three days a week. I’d play 12 holes on a Monday and then the full 18 on a Wednesday and Saturday.

The strongest part of my game? I don’t put drives astray and that keeps me out of trouble!

Men’s captain John Martin O’Keeffe, who was amongst those who trailed in Jim’s wake, revealed: “On the night when he came down for the presentation, he got he a standing ovation when he came in. There were over a hundred people there for the presentation.

88-year-old president’s prize winner ‘not old enough for a buggy yet’

“He is an incredible man. His achievement was the talk of the club for the past two weeks. Everyone is so happy for him.”

And so was the man himself.

“We had a very good night,” Hannon smiled.

“There was no driving to that one. We took a taxi down and back!”

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