Phil makes no concession to age
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.