Phil makes no con­ces­sion to age

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS - By Keith An­der­son

A day be­fore the party to cel­e­brate his 90th birth­day Drouin’s Phil Ed­wards was de­lighted to have dropped his golf hand­i­cap by one.

It was just a small, but typ­i­cal ex­am­ple, of him not mak­ing any con­ces­sions to his age.

In fact, he says, he’s “very com­fort­able be­ing in the 90s”.

Some 80 fam­ily and friends helped Phil mark his mile­stone birth­day at a func­tion at the Drouin Golf Club where he fur­ther showed age doesn’t have to set re­stric­tions when he blew out the 90 can­dles on his cake and, in his words, although it took a few breaths he “wasn’t huff­ing and puff­ing” when he’d fin­ished.

The names Phil Ed­wards and Drouin are vir­tu­ally in­sep­a­ra­ble.

Not only was he born in a house in the town he has, apart from sev­eral years at­tend­ing univer­sity in Mel­bourne, lived his en­tire life there.

His lo­cal school­ing was at the Drouin pri­mary and War­ragul high schools be­fore head­ing to univer­sity where he ob­tained a me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing de­gree.

Phil’s fa­ther Ernest had an en­gi­neer­ing works in Drouin that Phil joined after gain­ing his de­gree and would take over fol­low­ing his fa­ther’s death.

Over the years he trained dozens of ap­pren­tices at Ed­wards En­gi­neer­ing and was ac­tively in­volved in the then Drouin cham­ber of com­merce.

But it has been in sport, es­pe­cially ten­nis, that Phil has had a ma­jor lo­cal im­pact.

His name is al­ways to the fore when there are chats about who is the best ten­nis player pro­duced at Drouin.

Phil played com­pet­i­tively for 37 years win­ning a string of ti­tles in the War­ragul and district ten­nis as­so­ci­a­tion, in­clud­ing com­plet­ing the “grand slam” of sin­gles, dou­ble and mixed dou­bles cham­pi­onships on four oc­ca­sions.

He also was Gipp­s­land dou­ble cham­pion three times, once run­ner-up in the sin­gles and a per­ma­nent fix­ture in the WDTA Coun­try Week team for sev­eral decades.

The life mem­ber­ship award he re­ceived from the Drouin ten­nis club was recog­ni­tion of his to­tal con­tri­bu­tion as a player, com­mit­tee per­son and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Vic­to­rian ten­nis as­so­ci­a­tion for many years in­clud­ing the pe­riod when the ten­nis cen­tre in Mel­bourne that now hosts the Aus­tralian Open was ini­tially planned and built.

Phil was also in­stru­men­tal in the es­tab­lish­ment of cur­rent Drouin ten­nis club courts and clu­b­rooms at Bal­moral Park in Ben­nett St after the then Buln Buln shire coun­cil sought to re­lo­cate the courts from Princes Way next to the bowl­ing club.

Life mem­ber­ship of the Drouin bad­minton club where he was also heav­ily in­volved on and off the court was an­other recog­ni­tion for Phil.

And he was made a Life Gover­nor of the West Gipp­s­land Hos­pi­tal as an ac­knowl­edge­ment of pro­vid­ing for many years the space for a lo­cal Op­por­tu­nity Shop at a “pep­per­corn rent”.

Now the golf course – he started play­ing at War­ragul in 1952 and joined Drouin four or five years later – is Phil’s out­let for his sport­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness.

He plays club com­pe­ti­tion at Drouin three times a week; nine holes on Mon­days and 18 holes on Wed­nes­days and Satur­days only con­ced­ing to go around the course in a mo­torised cart about four years ago not be­cause, he says, he couldn’t walk the dis­tance but to get around a bit more quickly.

Phil’s wife Grace died four years ago but his daugh­ter Sally thinks that the way he’s go­ing her fa­ther will likely make it to 100.

Blow­ing out 90 can­dles on his cake was no prob­lem for Drouin iden­tity Phil Ed­wards when he cel­e­brated his mile­stone birth­day with about 80 fam­ily mem­bers and friends.

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