Melbourne, Australia: Golf is mourning the passing of Colin Phillips, one of Australian golf’s longest-serving administrators who also served as Honorary Secretary of the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) and Director of Asia-Pacific for The R&A.
Phillips fought a brief battle with cancer before passing in hospital on Sunday evening. He was aged 76.
Among many roles he fulfilled in international golf, Phillips will be best remembered as the boss of the Australian Golf Union (AGU) which, along with Women’s Golf Australia, was the forerunner to what is now Golf Australia. He served that role with distinction from 1979 until 2005, all the while building Australia’s international reputation with his work for The R&A and APGC.
Golf Australia chairman John Hopkins said: “He dedicated his life to making golf better and gave enormous service over a very, very long period of time.
“Colin was an extremely important and central figure in Australian golf history, not just with the AGU, but also with The R&A and APGC in recent years. He will be missed and his contribution is certainly a very significant one over a very long period.”
Golf Australia Chief Executive Stephen Pitt said it highlighted Phillips’ commitment to the sport that he called to offer support when he took the job in 2008.
“Colin was one of the first people to ring me and offer his help in any way that he could. I really did appreciate that offer of support and friendship and I knew it was genuine,” Pitt said.
“He was regarded by all as someone who understood the traditions and values of the game and worked hard to uphold them. He was a very loyal person, had enormous integrity, honesty and very strong values.”
A keen golfer throughout his life, Phillips was appointed Assistant Manager at The Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne in 1962. He later moved to Britain where he spent more than four years at the West Kent Golf Club as Secretary-Manager and also helped the Kent Golf Union.
He returned to Australia in 1975 when offered the role as Secretary of the Victorian Golf Association before landing the position with the national body.
Phillips was the driving force behind and oversaw many initiatives in his time at the AGU and in other roles within the golf industry. These included the formalisation of national development programmes, particularly for juniors and promising amateurs, the establishment of GolfLink and the forerunner to the current Australian handicapping system.
He helped initiate an environmental strategy for Australian golf courses and sat on committees that established the sport’s world ranking system, the Alfred Dunhill Cup and the Confederation of Australian Sport.
Phillips was a member of The Metropolitan Golf Club since 1975, served on its committees and acted as greens convenor for many years. He was a member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, honorary member of Kingston Heath and West Kent Golf Clubs, Sorrento, Moonah Links and Frankston golf clubs.
He was also Chairman of the Australian Open from 1975-2005 and the first Australian to serve on Rules committees for The Open, US Open and Masters.
Phillips is survived by his wife, Coralie.