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Dad’s Army at Whitefield

THE game of golf has long claimed that their sport adds longevity to players and Whitefield Golf Club offer great evidence to this claim.

Their Dad’s Army now has eight players over 90 years of age who play up to three times a week in social and competitive golf.

The leader of the pack is Irvine Caplan, 91, a Whitefield member for more than 56 years. Irvine said: “I still try to play two to three times a week and the highlights of my golfing career are numerous beginning in 1971 when I won the Variety Club of Great Britain Pro-Am at Mere.”

The former captain of the North West Golf Club secretaries, president of the Manchester and District Golf captains and captain of the historic Old Manchester Golf Club, added: “Golf has been a major part of my life. The friendships I have made will stay with me forever and the places I have visited, including many golfing holidays with my wife, are memorable as are the venues I have visited with my eldest son.

“The exercise and fresh air is a bonus and I hope will continue and I will always be indebted to my good friend, the late Dr Joe Glass, who introduced me to this great game.”

Joining Irvine in his views on golf and his club are Ike Alterman, aged 94. He was a major winner on many occasions with a best handicap of 10 who has been a member for 50 years. Ike made lots of new friends and one day 25 years ago on the first tee with his playing partner there were two ladies who knew Ike and asked if they could make up a fourball. Three months later Ike had a successful heart bypass and returned to the club where he met the lady again and they have now been together very happily for 25 years!

Frank Sheldon has played golf since 1948 and when he came to Manchester from Blackpool, he joined Manchester Hopwood where he stayed before joining Whitefield 40 years ago. Frank set up the successful Whitefield Seniors section which continues to flourish and, having begun playing table tennis at the age of 15, he still plays in the Buy TT League.

Next up is Harry Sherman, 91, who was active at Fives, football and squash until he was 50 before taking up the ‘easy’ game of golf in 1982 and felt confident he could soon master the game only to be established as the ‘Worst Player in the Club’ a few weeks later. It took 10 years before he achieved playing success in competitions. His best advice came from a caddy at St Andrews 30 years ago who mimicked his swing and suggested that he slowed it down to a blur!

In at number five is Brian Abrams, 92, who has been a member for 70 years and a junior in 1947. Brian enjoyed tennis but his dad Syd, who was club captain in 1953 and a founder member of the club in 1932, encouraged him to take up a greater interest in golf.

Brian said: “In our games with our friends there are no losers because we are out in the fresh air enjoying ourselves. The exercise of golf is genuinely a healthy occupation and there are few sports that can be continuously played throughout one’s life.”

Sixth on the tee is Alan Barr, also 91, who was a junior in 1948 before rejoining as a member in 1953. He plays twice a week and practises for an hour or so.

Alan said: “I am still trying to improve by having lessons. I think a lot depends on your approach to life, you have to remain optimistic, which is well illustrated by one of my fellow nonagenarians who has recently bought himself a new set of clubs!”

Joining them in 2023 are Simon Ledbrooke and Alan Watton.

Pictured at Whitefield (from left) are: Harry Sherman, Brian Abram, Ike Alterman, Irvine Caplan, Alan Barr and Frank Sheldon.