Raymond Smith is pure Flinders. Born in Brunswick, his parents moved to the Mornington Peninsula and planted roots in the then fishing village in 1944 when he was just two years old. He hasn’t left the region since. Well, why would you?
We are chatting at the kitchen table about his life and love of golf. At 77 and with open-heart and back surgery behind him, Raymond still plays competition golf twice a week. He loves the challenge. Likes a bit of a struggle. A contest. Likes to get out and about with his lifelong companions. When he retired at the age of 61, his wife Maree asked him what he was going to do. He replied: “Play golf.” But she had other plans.
Raymond explains: “So I started up a lawn mowing business and still have four clients. My family had a transport business and I drove fuel tanks across Victoria for Shell for 34 years. Big 24,000-litre tanks. We had a fuel depot in Balnarring back then. Driving those trucks is hard work. You’ve got to be very safety conscious and stay alert. When my parents Harold and Vera came to Flinders it was full of fishing families. Lots of the fishermen lived in huts along the beach. I grew up in Wood St about 100m from the water and spent all my time outside swimming and fishing. Playing footy and cricket for Flinders. Someone set our beach box alight when I was 20 years old. What a disaster. I’ll never forget it. My brother and sister still live in Flinders too.
“I joined the Flinders Golf Club in September 1956 when I was 14 years old and have had many opportunities to turn pro throughout the years but, you see, there was no money in it those days and the prospects weren’t there. Golf has taken me all around Australia, though, with junior and senior club, district and state championship competitions, from Flinders to Adelaide to Sydney and more. I’ve played in the Peninsula District Championship numerous times, been solo club champion and club champion in the Flinders foursome twice with Len Murphy. Played in the Australian Foursomes Challenge Shield at Long Island with Bruce McLure. I’ve also been part of the Victorian state team and played in NSW, Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland. I’ve never stopped playing except when having my surgeries. Golf can be hard on the back.” We laugh. “My siblings still play golf and my mother was club champion as well and a life member of Flinders, and I’m on the golf sub-committee.”
This no-fuss father of three and grandfather to five now lives in Merricks and has had a life dedicated to the sport that he still gets a thrill out of playing. Especially in such a beautiful part of the world. He concludes: “I’ve got a great network of guys. We go out for a coffee and I still play golf with three of my mates I’ve been playing with for a long time.” With no end in sight. Now that’s swinging it in your 70s.