12 Oct 2021 | Feature stories |

Skipper's sensational century

by Martin Blake

Royal Adelaide's John Skipper celebrates his 100th birthday on Wednesday and he is still hitting the ball nicely.

John Skipper won’t change his routine for the morning of his 100th birthday. He has his tee time at Royal Adelaide on a Wednesday, and he’ll be playing golf.

That is unless it’s too wet at the Seaton links where he’s played for the last 76 years. “I’m not much of a wet weather player nowadays,” he said.

And you can hardly blame him with the century of years coming up and a few associated aches and pains to deal with.

Skipper, a retired obstetrician and gynaecologist as well as an accomplished painter who also served in World War II, plays off 30 and rarely misses his usual game. Once a 12-handicapper, he has broken his age several times on the course, although not recently. “The last time was when I was about 90 or 91,” he said. “I thought it would be easier but I haven’t managed it. I was close when I was 98 but not lately.”

He is one of a handful of centenarians in Australia who are still playing regular golf.

“It’s extraordinary I’ve managed to get this far and reached the milestone,” Skipper said this week. “I think it’s due to a number of factors. When I look back on my life, I think there’s good fortune with some of the episodes I overcame, and I’m lucky that I’m still active and I have lots of friends who keep me going. Plus I’ve got a wonderful family. That’s about it.”

Royal Adelaide is planning to celebrate the occasion on Wednesday.

“I play at least once a week on a Wednesday, and occasionally on the weekend,” he said. “Last weekend we had a mixed competition at Royal Adelaide, I played with my daughter (Toffee Perkins) and we played well, but we were pipped at the end.

“I’ve always enjoyed sport and I’ve played golf for a long time. I’m worn out in parts, but I’ve had those repaired and I’m lucky that I’ve kept going.”

Skipper is the embodiment of the notion of golf as a ‘game for life’. He turns up every week, and takes what he can from the game. “I think it’s a great thing to be able to play golf,” he said. “It keeps you active, keeps your muscles moving, and I still enjoy it. I enjoy playing with people that I love.”

He has no plans for retirement from the game he loves. “I’ll play for as long as I’m physically able to.”

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