Bruce Barnes still plays a consistently good game of golf at 91 years old. (MIchael Briones photo)

Vancouver Island golfer routinely shooting his age, or better

Qualicum Beach’s Bruce Barnes still impresses on the golf course at age 91

Qualicum Beach’s Bruce Barnes plays golf three times a week. He simply loves the game.

At the tender age of 91, Barnes is not about to quit.

Though he is not as spry as he once was and now plays from the front tees at his favourite course, Eaglecrest Golf Club, his playing buddies enjoy having him around because Barnes can consistently play well every time out.

Russ Mitchell, who is 67 years old and a single-digit handicap player with 50 years of golf experience, had the opportunity to play with Barnes recently. He was very impressed when Barnes carded an 83.

“He could have easily shot a 79 if a few putts had dropped on the back nine,” said Mitchell. “Bruce plays from the forward (yellow) tees which does not make golf much easier, as I consider Eaglecrest one of the tougher golf course to score on.”

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Barnes agreed, saying “‘could have’ is the magic word. I have been averaging between 82 and 83 so far this year.”

Barnes, who will turn 92 in December, has been playing golf for close to 75 years. He said it was not his favourite sport initially. It was hockey first and when he was 17, Barnes got challenged to try golf and he has been playing ever since.

Over the years, he has played in various tournaments and when he got older entered the B.C. Seniors Golf Championships and Canadian Seniors Championships.

He has won the Eaglecrest Senior Club title seven times he said and has also won club trophies in other courses.

So how does he still maintain his golf game?

“I don’t know if I have a secret,” said Barnes. “I concentrate quite well and I have a good short game. That enables me to shoot a reasonable score.”

When he was lot younger, Barnes said he played six times a week. He counts himself truly fortunate to still be able to play golf.

“I am a pancreatic cancer survivor,” said Barnes. “It will be 10 years this coming November that I have recovered from this. I love playing golf. I have difficulty walking now and have to drive the cart close to the ball now pretty much. But I don’t have any other difficulties. I do keep my head down let’s put it that way. As long as I swing slow and keep my head down, I can still hit that ball pretty square.”

Mitchell said when he first golfed with Barnes, he expected he would be telling him where his ball went and what he scored on the hole.

“Not a chance,” said Mitchell. “He knows his score and mine. He has amazing eyesight and hearing and he never holds up the group. Bruce drives the ball around 150 yards and I have never seen him miss a fairway. I consider him the Moe Norman of Vancouver Island. Barnzie has an incredible short game and chips in regularly and rarely misses a putt inside 10 feet.”

Every time he goes out to play, Barnes said he approaches the game one shot at a time.

“That’s what I try to do,” said Barnes. “You get ahead of yourself sometimes and when you’re having a really good round and near the end you go ‘oh if just do this I can shoot, like you said, in the 70s. That’s when you screw up. You end up with double bogeys.”

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Barnes said at his age, there’s going to be aches and pains and he has always turn to golf to make him forget that they’re there.

“Whenever I don’t feel well, my wife would tell me to ‘get out there and forget your pains,’” said Barnes. “And it works. I also enjoy the camaraderie at my age. The boys are all so good to me.”

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