They don’t hand out golf club life memberships like towels and tees.
Bill Hobbis’ contributions to the game were recognized this month when he became only the third person named a lifetime member of Royal Colwood.
“It is quite a surprise and quite an honour,” said Hobbis.
That followed his induction into the British Columbia Golf Hall of Fame last year.
Hobbis was already a member of the Royal Colwood Wall of Honour, which includes course architect and designer A.V. Macan and Pat Fletcher, the last Canadian to win the Canadian Open in 1954.
There is no higher distinction in Canadian amateur golf than representing your province on its Willingdon Cup team. Hobbis did it three times. He was part of the 1975 national-champion B.C. team and also represented his home province in 1977. Hobbis played for Alberta in 1978 when a job posting took him to Calgary.
He won more than 60 invitational, open or amateur championships over his career and was two-time Royal Colwood club champion and also club champion 21 times at nine other courses. Other career highlights included winning the Saskatchewan amateur championship in 1978 and New Zealand Senior Championship in 1999.
Hobbis was a pilot and would fly his float plane in to play in tournaments all over Western Canada. He played as an amateur in pro tournaments against the likes of PGA Tour regulars Steve Stricker and Mark O’Meara but was never tempted to jump into the pro pool because he had a steady and fulfilling career off the course with Manulife.
“I had lots of offers to turn pro but it never crossed my mind,” said Hobbis.
“I was content with the amateur game and I loved it.”
Hobbis came up an all-rounder who played for the University of Victoria Vikings in basketball after winning the B.C. high school championship in 1959 with the Vic High Totems. He played baseball at National Little League the year it opened in 1953 and played on city, Island and provincial-champion Victoria softball teams.
Hobbis said he still prefers team sports. That’s perhaps why he rates his team experiences in the Willingdon Cup — Canadian amateur golf’s version of the Ryder Cup — so highly.
“They were such wonderful moments to play with teammates such as Doug Roxburgh,” said Hobbis, who was also a member at Fairwinds for several years in Nanoose Bay.
Hobbis, known for his understated sense of humour, turns 78 next month. After overcoming sporting challenges on courses, courts and diamonds, he is open about the greatest battle of his life — Stage 4 cancer.
“I am fighting it,” he said.
As great athlete do.
“I am humbled, to say the least, about the career accolades I have received from Royal Colwood and the B.C. Golf Hall of Fame,” said Hobbis.
Hobbis’ list of achievements off the course are almost as long. He has been a board member of the B.C. Golf Association and six golf clubs, associate governor and governor with the Royal Canadian Golf Association and has served as a rules official at numerous tournaments across the country at all levels of the game.