92 year old Betty Higgs ends the golf lockdown with her own 9 hole course

Betty How has invited some of her local lady golfing friends to try out the new course. Photo: Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser

WHEN Victoria’s Betty Higgs retired from teaching she thought she might give golf a try and now after more than a quarter of a century her love affair with the game continues to grow.

In recent months 92 year old Betty has been one of the many Australian golf tragics longing to get back on their favourite golf courses, off limits due to restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We golfers have probably all tried to make do with what we have had available and in Betty’s case that meant hacking away in a paddock on the family farm in Arnold, near Bendigo.

The Bendigo Advertiser reports that one day Betty’s sons Bill and Max were watching their mum out having a hit and trying to keep her game in order when an idea sparked.

The brothers decided it was time to get Betty out of the rough and build their mum her very own course.

“Max turned up to the farm one Monday afternoon, he took off on one of the mowers and we just designed the course as we went along,” Bill said.

After a couple of afternoons of hardwork and a team effort which included Bill’s wife Debbie, the course officially named ‘The Blue Wren’ was born. “A neat little nine-hole par-3 course with its very own signature hole,” the Advertiser records.

“I was over the moon when they made the course up for me,” Betty said.

“I always used to go out and have a hit around the paddock, but now there are holes set up and everything.”

Betty has been playing on the course just about every day, sometimes alone and sometimes with her daughter Sonya.

The Advertiser says each hole has a small sand scrape green with a cup and flag stick.

The family also incorporated a small dam located on one of the paddocks into the course, with the end result a hole with a tricky tee shot over a fence and water in-play if you aren’t careful.

Betty Higgs putting on one of the “Blue Wren’s” sand greens. Photo: Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser

“You need to hit the ball over the fence, which Sonya is able to do, but I haven’t quite mastered it yet,” Betty laughed.

Betty has been a long time member and player at the nearby Bridgewater-on-Loddon Golf Club and recently invited a small group of ladies from her club to play the course.

“The weather was perfect and all the ladies loved it, they were amazed by our course,” Betty said.

With Victoria’s golf clubs allowed to reopen as of May 13, Betty will be able to resume her former golfing schedule of playing every Wednesday with the ladies in their regular competition. Her group follows up the comp with a trip to the local bakery for hot coffee and cake.

Betty says the social aspect of golf is one of the reasons she has continued playing since the mid-90s.

She recalls her days as a teacher at Bridgewater Primary School when she would see the ladies heading off to play golf.

“I remember thinking to myself that going out to play golf would be such a lovely thing to do, so after I retired one day I decided to go and have a hit and I very much enjoyed it,” Betty said with a smile.

Now 25 years later her love for golf only gets stronger.

“Golf is a really self-motivating sport which you can either play by yourself or with a team,” Betty said. “It’s a real personal challenge and I plan to play for as long as possible.”

Betty Higgs in full swing on her new course. Photo: Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser

To celebrate her 90th birthday two years ago, Betty embarked on one of Australia’s most renowned golfing experience, the 1,365km long Nullarbor Links.

She celebrated her 80th birthday by walking over the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and in her 90’s has regularly cycled the 32 kilometres from her farm into Bridgewater to meet friends.

She has 16 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren and has often been asked what she plans to do to celebrate her 100th birthday, due in 2028.

“I have to get there first,” she says.

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Brian is an award winning golf writer and is the founder and editor of Australian Senior Golfer. He is a former Sydney journalist who had little interest in golf till he hit his first ball at the age of 49 (and a half). Since then golf has just about overtaken his life. Brian founded ASG in April 2008 and has since covered every Australian Open, Presidents Cups, World Cups and numerous other big men’s and women’s tournaments, spending days inside the ropes with the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Karrie Webb, and many others. He has also played in, and reported on, numerous amateur tournaments, particularly senior and veteran events, around the country. Brian is a member of the Australian Golf Media Association and won the award for Best News Report for 2016 - 2017

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