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Almond ready to prove he's no Average Joe

PUBLISHED: 10:34 15 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:57 06 July 2010

ROOKERY'S star Senior, Joe Almond, has one main ambition after celebrating his 80th birthday.

He wants to get out onto the course and play a round of golf to match his new age.

ROOKERY'S star Senior, Joe Almond, has one main ambition after celebrating his 80th birthday.

He wants to get out onto the course and play a round of golf to match his new age. During the last year he played to his age, then 79, on several occasions.

His belief is that golf becomes more difficult in old age due to weaker muscles causing a loss of length, less flexibility restricting turning and problems with balance. He has devised a daily exercise programme to deal with all of these difficulties.

Almond, who was born near Worksop, did not take up golf until he was 32, preferring to play football and cricket. As a war boy he recalls that his daily journey to Retford Boys' Grammar School entailed a five mile bus ride, 15 minutes on a train and then an hour and half walk. He received no PE lessons of any kind because all of the eligible male teachers had been called up into the armed forces.

In the course of time Almond moved to Suffolk to teach at Bungay Grammar School. Whilst there he became captain of Bungay Cricket Club and played the game to a high standard. Eventually his neighbour, Geoff Watts, of the legendary golfing and wood merchant family, persuaded him to try golf.

Success followed immediately and his very first handicap was 15. In his second year Almond reduced it to nine and gained a place in the Bungay Hambro team.

When he found himself having to play in the British Amateur Championship at St. Andrews and the English Open Championship at Woodhall Spa, he realised that, to prepare properly, he had to play regularly on a longer golf course.

So, in 1976, he joined Rookery Park. Prior to the move he had won the Suffolk Foursomes Championship with Nick Owles and been runner-up in the Suffolk Amateur Championship. He had also played in the John Player Classic, held at the old Pakefield club, which was restricted to county champions.

On another visit to the old club he won the prestigious Jubilee Cup, an open scratch competition. He also became a member of the Suffolk County team.

At Rookery he won the Jubilee Cup for the second time and, as well as playing in the Stenson Shield he was a member of the Hambro team, which won the trophy in a memorable match at Purdis Heath. After winning the Rookery Foursomes with Vic Godbold, Almond went on to win the Suffolk Senior Championship at the age of 69.

He also spent a period as the club's secretary/manager and, in 12 years as secretary of the old EGGS, he formed the basis of the present Senior' fixture list. On one occasion he caddied for his friend, European tour golfer, David Snell, in a major tournament. When in the golf star's shop on another occasion he was asked to answer the phone and found himself talking to legendary golf commentator Peter Alliss.

Almond was surprised to learn that Rookery stalwart and former Ladies' captain, Jean Thompson, had once been a wartime evacuee in his native Worksop. He remains a single figure handicapper, seeing it rise from two to nine. His ambition, however, is to see his handicap move downward once again.

Rookery professional shop manager, Robert Pettit, narrowly avoided an embarrassing experience when two visitors called into his shop recently.

As there was a football commentary on the radio he was about to ask them if they had any interest in football. Just in time, he realised that one of the visitors was Bryan Gunn, former Norwich City manager and goalkeeper.

David Batley

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