Four-time Australian Women’s Amateur champion Sandra McCaw AM and world-famous Japanese philanthropist Dr Haruhisa Handa AO were recognised earlier this month in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for their services to Australian golf.
For McCaw, a soaking wet piece of paper in her letterbox confirmed her suspicions that she may be made a Member of the Order of Australia.
“I’m really thrilled. I was a touch embarrassed at first, but I overcame that. I am really thrilled at a personal level but also it does reflect on golf to a degree. I’d heard a whisper that I’d been nominated some time ago, a couple of years ago, but it came as a shock,” McCaw said.
“I went out for a walk one day and thought I better look in my letterbox and there was this soggy letter from the Governor-General. I hadn’t checked the mail for a couple of days. The first letter is an offer. I didn’t actually read it as an offer, I read it as an acceptance and then I got another letter from them only two or three weeks ago saying that I’d been accepted.
“I couldn’t tell anybody because they swear you to secrecy, but a friend of mine, I didn’t actually tell her but I said I got a letter from the Governor-General, so she put two and two together and organised a celebration on Queen’s Birthday.”
McCaw won the Australian Foursomes title three times during her playing days, and she represented Australia more than 30 times between 1971 and 1987.
Every time she represented her country filled McCaw with great pride, but when she took the time to reflect on the best moments in her golfing journey, there was one occasion that quickly sprung to mind.
“I’ve got scrapbooks. I’ve got all my photographs from that period and when I have a browse through those I do reflect and there are some things that I am extremely proud of. Probably the thing I’m most proud of was when I was named captain for the Australia-Japan foundation matches because I was a woman. That was in the 80s and that was quite unusual. That was pretty cool,” she said.
“Greg Norman was on that team, and I think Billy Dunk was on that team. There were a few guys who easily could have taken it and me being an amateur and female, it was a huge honour.”
To celebrate her distinguished career, McCaw was inducted into the Victorian Golf Industry Hall of Fame in 2016 and she is also a life member at Long Island Golf Club (now The National Golf Club), where she won the women’s club championship each of the 16 times she entered.
McCaw spent a few years earlier this century living in Bendigo where she ran a Drummond Golf store, but nowadays, she plays at The National, where she is in the club’s Hall of Fame, and has not lost any passion for the game.
“I’ve played since I was 16 and I’m 72 now, going on 73, and I’m still as passionate about it as I was,” she said.
“I’m not as good, and I’m not as competitive as I was thank goodness, but I’m still very passionate about playing and I understand its value to me. It’s exercise. It’s a social outlet. I can go and play on my own when I have spare time. It has so many attributes that don’t apply to other sports. It’s not just another sport.”
Dr Handa is one of the most significant figures in Australian golf in his role as founder of the International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS HANDA).
He was awarded an AO in the general division for services to the arts, education and sport in this year’s honours list.
The HANDA organisation is the naming rights sponsor of the PGA Tour of Australasia and has been a primary sponsor of both tournaments and players in Australia for the past 15 years.
Dr Handa founded ISPS in 2006 to further the transformative power of sport across the globe. The organisation funds and promotes sporting events in archery, bowling, boxing, football, golf, polo, rowing, rugby and swimming with an emphasis on blind and disabled golf.
After graduating from Doshisha University, Kyoto, in Economics, Dr Handa then went on to study with the Master Class at Musashino Academia Musicae where he graduated with a major in vocal music. He earned a masters degree in creative arts from WAAPA (West Australian Academy of Performing Arts) at Edith Cowan University, West Australia, as well as a Ph.D in Literature from the Academy of Arts & Design at Tsinghua University, China.
He has been proudly recognised for his long-standing commitment and contributions to public service and charities across the world. These honours include his being awarded the Medal with Dark Blue Ribbon of Japan, the Honorary Award of Contribution towards the Chinese Choral Enterprise, the distinguished service medal of the State of Western Australia and the keys to the City of Perth and the City of Swan. Dr Handa also became the first Japanese person to be appointed to the post of Vice President at the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), the UK’s oldest and largest charity.