When Doug Hill hurt his back gardening in 2017, groundbreaking golf achievements were the furthest thing from his mind.
So bad was Hill’s injury that he opted to become a non-playing member of the Portarlington Golf Club for several months, fearing at age 73 that he would not get back to the sport.
But fast-forward to 2022 and Hill is again full of ambition having achieved one of the sport’s rarest and most treasured feats – “breaking his age”.
Now 77, Hill tore up the front nine last week, notching 25 stableford points off his 11 handicap to eventually win the Thursday competition with 43.
But although he was confident that his sensational score would hold up for the day’s prize, he had no idea of his grand achievement.
Some clever detective work from Max Edmanson and Matt Milne in the pro shop discovered he’d not had a “scratch” on his card, so his 76 off the stick was just enough to create his piece of history.

“I had absolutely no idea I’d broken my age until Matt called me – I was completely shocked,” Hill said.
“I knew I’d played well and had a good (stableford) score, but I don’t pay great attention to my stroke score very often, so I was a bit stunned, to be honest.
“I told my wife (Margaret) and she said, `That’s awesome, send the kids a text and tell them”. My son lives in Switzerland and my daughter is in North Melbourne, so I sent them a screen shot of the results page and let them know.
“It was pretty exciting, actually.”

Hill has been a member at Portarlington since moving to the Bellarine almost 17 years ago, with his handicap having reached a low of nine in that time.
“I only ever played socially before then, mostly tennis with the kids when they were growing up, to be honest,” he said.
“Then when I did my back, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to keep going, but here we are – I’ve surprised myself, actually.”
Hill credited resident teaching pro Tyson Myers with having sharpened his skills and tightened his swing to be able to reach his career-best score.
“I’ve never even come close to breaking my age before, so the whole game is coming together a little bit,” he said with a grin.
“I get a bit more distance off the tee with Tyson helping me along. I’ve had some lessons with him and bought some new clubs and they’ve been awesome. So it’s been really good improvement since my back (injury).”

Hill began his magical round with a birdie, then had a double-bogey on the fourth and bogey on the long sixth before things really took off.
“I made a birdie on the seventh, then another on the eighth and then another one fell out on the ninth,” he said.
“So I thought, `Really put your head down and concentrate now, you could have a good day’.
“And it turned out to be an excellent day,” said Hill, whose short game is his key weapon.
“I’m not as long as some of the other guys, so I have to make up the points around the green. My shots around the green (are my strength), I try to knock them close and have one putt and that’s my best way to make pars on some of the holes.”
So has the achievement whet Hill’s appetite for more history? You bet it has.
“I’d like to think I can get (my handicap) back down to under 10 again. I’m not sure if I’ll break my age again, Matt says it’s pretty rare, but I hope I can. We’ll see.”
Nobody’s betting against you, Doug!

2022 02 news hill magical
Doug Hill’s short game powered his sensational round.