A PASSION for the game and a love for the people have been the key drivers for John Griffin’s 43-year association with golf in Southland.
After moving to Invercargill in 1977 to take up a golf professional role at Greenacres, Griffin began what would become a four-decade involvement with golf in the far south.
During that time, he has coached many players throughout the region, guided many of the region’s development and professional coaches, supported the development of the game in multiple capacities and, for the past 13 years, has travelled from Queenstown to play an integral role on the Golf Southland Board. This, all while maintaining challenging and high-profile roles at the likes of Millbrook, The Hills, and for the past decade, as general manager at Jack’s Point Golf Club.
Now, he has stepped down from the board, but there’s no doubt he’ll continue to keep a close eye on the fairways in the far south.
Remember JG Pro Sports? The Invercargill sports shop was Griffin’s baby and was, in a way, what prompted him to give so much back to Southland golf.
“Because I received great support from many Southlanders when I got my start in business back in the 1970s, I always felt a desire to give back should the opportunity arise,” he said.
“In the late 1990s, while managing golf operations at Millbrook, I would travel south and assist with player development in the province. I was asked if I would assist the Golf Southland board not long after the amalgamation of men’s and women’s district and national golf associations in New Zealand.”
Golf Southland board chairman Phil McDonald said Griffin’s input and his impact on golf in Southland had been immeasurable.
“To have John’s level of knowledge and experience around the board table for such a long time has been just invaluable,” he said.
“He has been Golf Southland’s biggest advocate in a wide range of situations, none more so than in his work with NZ Golf, and that has been incredibly important. As a board we have been very fortunate to have his input for so long.”
While Griffin could easily call on many major highlights during his time with Golf Southland, national titles for men’s and women’s representative teams among them, the decline in membership numbers was something that has both perplexed and disappointed him, as did the closure of Oreti Sands.
“I find the declining membership personally quite difficult to accept. Golf offers so many great social interactions for people of all ages and, as a sport, it isn’t expensive in Southland,” he said.
“One upside of the Covid-19 disruptions has been the return of recreational golfers, coming back to golf as green fee players. Many have also gone on to re-join clubs membership in New Zealand is up 5% and playing rounds are up more than 20% in many regions.”