BUILDING HIS STRENGTH: Kevin Byrnes is out on the fairways again after undergoing chemotherapy for prostate cancer.
BUILDING HIS STRENGTH: Kevin Byrnes is out on the fairways again after undergoing chemotherapy for prostate cancer. Brett Wortman

Club member 001 still having hole lot of fun

PLAYING off a handicap of 23 isn't anything to brag about - Kevin Byrnes has been in golf long enough to know that.

He knows most men at Horton Park would look at that 23 with a hint of shame or pin it to their locker for motivation.

But Byrnes has never been one to brag - and he doesn't much worry about his handicap.

"I'm just glad to be playing," the 89-year-old said yesterday before heading out on one of his biweekly games at the Maroochydore course.

Byrnes has been a fixture at Horton Park since 1978. A life member whose number reads 001, he was club president for almost a decade.

"I've put a lot of time and effort into keeping that club going," he said.

A jeweller by trade, Byrnes has always used golf as a way to relax and enjoy the outdoors after spending hours cooped up in his Cotton Tree store.

"I always saw it as a good opportunity to get out and enjoy what we have here," he said.

"And of course you meet people and there's a lot of camaraderie and mateship."

Before moving to the Coast, Byrnes lived in Sydney and was a member of some of Australia's top courses, including Bonnie Doon and St Michael's.

He played off a handicap of 10 and kept it as low as 13 well into his 80s. His claim to fame, however, is that he has hit a hole in one six times - not that he likes to claim it.

"That's something they give me grief about, the other guys here," he said.

In each of the past five years, Byrnes has shot his age - an achievement every bit as remarkable as those holes-in-one.

But one of his greatest moments on the golf course was a recent C-grade competition.

The reason it was so memorable was that it was his first round of golf in four months, because he was undergoing chemotherapy for prostate cancer.

"To most people it's not much, a C-grade competition," he said.

"But to me that was something quite special.

"Being out there and playing again, that was something I appreciated very much."

Since finishing his chemotherapy, Byrnes has been using his golf sessions - on Wednesdays and Saturdays - to build up strength in his legs and the areas affected by the treatment.

On the days when not working at the shop he started more than 40 years ago, Byrnes exercises his legs on the fairways of Horton Park.

"They're getting stronger," he said.

"Maybe you should hold the story off for a few weeks and come back then.

"I will probably be playing better."

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