Grant Compton has a tendency to break his age when he steps onto a golf course.
The 85-year-old shot a 74 last weekend at the Crown Isle club championship, good for the low net win in the Super Seniors 70-plus age group. His score was just one shot behind low gross winner Ramsay Poucher, a spring chicken in his early-70s.
“To be honest these were off the forward tees,” Compton said. “I was 35 on the back nine, one under par.”
His latest feat is just one of the 240 times the Courtenay resident has carded a score lower than the number of birthdays he has celebrated.
It’s a far cry from what he could shoot as a young man.
A Valley resident since 1986, the PEI-born Compton played his first round of golf at age 24 when he lived in Montreal.
“We were terrible,” he said. “Four of us used to go out on the weekend and play at the Montreal municipal course. A good score for us in those days would be like 125.”
But things started to change one winter when he read a golfing book written by a Scotsman. While others joked about clothing styles in the pictures, Compton studied the book in earnest. Come springtime, he kicked off the season with a 95.
Compton started golfing seriously in his late-20s after graduating in chemical engineering from Wayne State University in Detroit.
“I’m a great believer in people taking lessons and practising,” he said. “Which is like a motherhood statement, but it’s very, very true. You gotta’ find a teaching pro that suits you.”
He has kept the scorecards from the 240 times he has shot his age. The first time came at age 72.
Compton’s best-ever score is 68, which he has shot four times, once at a tournament in Niagara Falls, NY.
Another highlight was shooting a two-under-par 70 at age 72 at a course in Nova Scotia.
He once played in the Canadian Amateur but did not make the cut. Nor did he qualify for the final rounds the times he played in the Ontario Open.
Compton and his wife Joan — who have been members at Sunnydale, Comox and Storey Creek in Campbell River — enjoy playing the game together at Crown Isle.
“Her claim to fame is that she’s had two holes-in-one,” he said. “Two years ago, when she was 73, she had her second hole-in-one.”
While he can’t hit the ball as far as he used to, Compton can still nail a drive straight straight down the fairway — with a little help from the wind — about 190 yards.
“I still enjoy the game,” said Compton, noting the frustrating elements of golf. “It’s a humbling game. You never get it right. It once in a while lets you think that you’re pretty good, and then it brings you down to earth next time you’re out…At 85 I’m lucky to be playing reasonably good.”