By Mark Hayes, Golf Australia
GOLF Australia chairman John Hopkins has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal in the 2015 Australia Day honours list.
Hopkins, 64, said it was a “great honour, a tremendous honour” to be recognised jointly for his services to golf and the mineral and resources sector.
Hopkins trained as a lawyer and simultaneously took up golf while at university in Perth. His subsequent 40-plus year involvement in both fields has today been lauded for his tireless contributions to both endeavours.
Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt said Hopkins’ recognition was a just reward for a lifetime commitment to the sport.
“It’s an enormous achievement for John’s service to the game to be publicly recognised,” Pitt said.
“He has contributed tirelessly over a long period to make golf better around Australia and the world and it’s fitting that his work is noted on such an important day for the country given what he has achieved.”
Hopkins provided legal counsel for many mining companies, his knowledge of all sectors of the industry earning him invitations to sit on more than 20 company boards during his career.
He continues to serve on three mining companies’ boards, as chairman on two of them.
And throughout that career, he has been equally as active in golf and its administration.
“I played for the first time at university – including A and B grade pennant through the 1970s and ‘80s and into the ‘90s,” Hopkins said.
“I’ve been a struggling high single-figure player, off and on in single figures, for the past 40-odd years and I’ve always found it a great game – just great fun.
“I was in my mid-30s when I got involved on the committee and became vice-president of Nedlands Golf Club (in Perth), then became president and went on to the state body and I was on that executive committee for 20 years and was president of the Australian Golf Union in 1997.
“I just genuinely love the game and being involved where I can.”
Hopkins’ involvement and passion spread to the rules of the game and he became an advisory member of the R&A Rules Committee. He refereed his first Australian Open in 1992 and has since been referee at countless major championships including at The Open more than 10 times.
He was president of Lake Karrinyup Country Club, of the Western Australia Golf Association from 2007-10 and was unanimously voted chairman of Golf Australia in 2011.
“It’s been a long journey, but a privilege to put the amount of time and effort into what I think is the greatest game in the world,” he said.
“But however much you put into it, you get more out of it. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be involved in the game at the highest level for such a long period of time.
“I’ve just stayed with the game all the way and here I am.
I’m still closely involved and have been all the way through for 30 years – it’s been wonderful.”
Hopkins was still a senior referee at the US Open last year and was also chief referee at the 2014 Asia Pacific Amateur Championship.
“I still keep close to the rules – it’s the fabric of the game and it’s great to be involved on that side of it, too.
“I’m as passionate about it now as I’ve ever been … probably a little more even.
“I still love all the things I do – I wouldn’t do it otherwise.”
Hopkins said today’s honour was particularly special.
“When I look at the winners of these awards, it’s very humbling to be included for doing something I’ve loved – for something I continue to love.”