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Cooper sets up junior golf meet

Rashneel Kumar
Friday, January 04, 2013

JOHN Cooper, who gave birth to some top golf tournaments in Fiji, is back with another creation to help develop the sport from the grassroots level.

The New Zealander has contributed the John Cooper Trophy and $1000 to set up the Junior Golf Championship which will be played on January 9 and 10 at the Fiji Golf Club (FGC) course in Vatuwaqa.

Cooper, who has golfing ties to Fiji for more than seven decades, was influential in setting up the Fiji Open Golf Championship in 1970 and later created the South Pacific Pro Am golf circuit with Pacific Harbour, The Fijian Hotel and the Royal Samoa Country Club in Apia.

He also created the Fiji Ladies Open at Vatuwaqa and a similar one at Pacific Harbour.

Cooper came to Fiji in 1947 after his dad was posted to the RNZAF station at Laucala Bay.

He began playing golf at Vatuwaqa with his school friend John Murray.

In 1957, Cooper was posted from Wellington to the Bank of New Zealand in Suva.

He joined the Fiji Golf Club, got his handicap down to five, played in the annual East West tournament and was a member of the FGC committee before returning to New Zealand in 1962.

"I kept my Fiji golf connections and with the help of my good friend John Wisdom, created the inaugural Fiji Open Golf Championship in 1970," Cooper said.

Cooper's long time caddy in Suva, Bose Lutunatabua eventually became the first Fiji Professional Golf Association (PGA) member and ran the pro shop at Pacific Harbour.

Another of his caddies, Vili Kalou went on to become a coaching professional when Denarau opened.

Cooper continues his interest in Fiji golf and attended the 42nd Fiji Open last year with his wife Wendy Hickling Cooper.

FGC captain Kevin Maitava thanked Cooper for the initiative, adding they expected a huge turnout at the event next week.





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