Australia Day honours: Brian Twite shoots a birdie in honours

THE only time Brian Twite put golf on hold was during World War II when he lied about his age to join the British Royal Navy.

It was a feat for Mr Twite, who had lived on a golf course in Norfolk, England, and had been playing the game since he was five years old. By 14, he was already on scratch — a handicap of zero.

But he said his decision to join the armed forces at 16 ‘‘just made sense’’.

‘‘I had three brothers and sisters in the forces,’’ Mr Twite said. ‘‘There was one in the army, one in the air force and one in the ATS [Auxiliary Territorial Service], which is the ladies’ army. So I thought I’d better join the navy, make it a clean sweep.’’

For four years, his golf clubs gathered dust until he returned home. At 22, he started teaching the game he loved. That was more than 60 years ago.

‘‘I’ve never lost a love for the game,’’ Mr Twite said. ‘‘My life was on teaching rather than playing golf. I was a far better teacher than I was a putter. I wasn’t a very good putter in those days.’’

It is for his services to golf as a mentor and administrator that Mr Twite has been awarded an Order of Australia medal in the general division.

‘‘All my love is spent teaching,’’ he said.

The 86 year old has lived in Australia since 1955. He was the principal club professional at the Metropolitan Golf Club in Oakleigh South for close to 40 years.

He said his biggest joy was teaching a 72-year-old woman who had never attempted any sport at all to play golf.

‘‘I get more fun out of that than teaching scratch golfers,’’ he said. ‘‘Scratch golfers don’t need much teaching because they’re already there. But the old people, like the 72 year old who never played in her life and she’s still playing, I get more love out of that than anything else.

‘‘What it really comes back to is helping people to enjoy the game.’’

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