Whanganui golfer Anneke Van Dam is a "natural wonder" according to her club president.

She turned 90 on Thursday and the Castlecliff Golf Club celebrated their most senior player with bouquets and a surprise celebration.

"Anneke is a natural wonder and we are so proud of her," said club president Matthew Carroll.

"She still plays golf regularly and she volunteers and works behind the bar."


Castlecliff 9-hole captain Ian Kitney said Van Dam not only plays - she is a star player.

"Last week we had to combine two events because of rain and Anneke won both of them," he said.

The nonagenarian said she was surprised to learn that she is the club's most senior player.

"I suspected that I might be the oldest woman, but aren't there men in their 90s?"

Men's captain Grant Clark assured her there are none.

"There are men who aren't 70 yet and they don't get around as well as you do," he said.

Van Dam said she puts her exceptional good health and fitness down to luck.

"I still enjoy golf very much and hope to keep playing for a few more years yet.


"I have a friend in Feilding who is 93 and she is still a very good player."

The mother of three and grandmother of seven joined the Castlecliff Club in 1985 when she was 56 and played 18-hole golf until three years ago.

"My children played a lot of sports and I was always busy supporting their endeavours when I was younger."

Born in the Netherlands, Van Dam and her husband moved to Whanganui in 1951 and she said it has been a wonderful place to raise a family and form good friendships.

Clark, who attended school with the Van Dam children, said they were always a lovely family.

"Anneke's son Hans was my friend and I reckon I've known her for over 50 years.


"I reconnected with her when she joined the club here and she is a true asset - really efficient and across everything.

"She's brilliant behind the bar and she took care of the women's golf cards until recently."

Clark said they have switched to an electronic system now.

"She would still be doing them, otherwise."

Asked if she was doing anything else to mark her milestone birthday, Van Dam said she had an early celebration with her daughter's family in Nelson.

"I will probably keep celebrating for the week now," she said.

Anneke Van Dam (left) and Pauline Grant competing in the bronze division finals at the Castlecliff Golf Club in 2009. Photo / Tracey Grant.
Anneke Van Dam (left) and Pauline Grant competing in the bronze division finals at the Castlecliff Golf Club in 2009. Photo / Tracey Grant.

Along with her friend Pauline Grant, who is a year younger, Van Dam has been putting younger players of both genders to shame for decades.

"Pauline has given up playing recently but she used to beat a lot of the men.

"They have both been brilliant golfers for many years."

And Van Dam is still a formidable player with an average handicap of 25.