2020 Volunteer Recognition Day

Uxbridge, ON – As the 2020 Ontario golf season starts to come to a close, and with a strong 2020 Championship season behind us, it is now time to appreciate the real MVP’s of Golf Ontario: the volunteers. Without the support and dedication of these spectacular volunteers, Golf Ontario wouldn’t be able to run such successful events or provide such great support to each participant and their families. We thank and appreciate all the hours, passion, and energy each of our volunteers contributes throughout the season. On Tuesday October 20th, Golf Ontario hosted the annual Volunteer Appreciation Day at the beautiful Wooden Sticks Golf Course. This day of golf is always an important event in celebrating our incredible volunteers.


As COVID-19 continues to affect our lives and the way we celebrate together, Golf Ontario conducted its’ 2020 Volunteer Recognition Day in virtual fashion on Monday November 9th.


To watch the 2020 Volunteer Recognition Day, view the winners,
and hear the acceptance speeches,
please click here.


Today gives us a focused opportunity to salute our volunteer’s commitment to golf in Ontario”, said Golf Ontario Executive Director, Mike Kelly. “We’re shining the spotlight on you, the amazing people whose service transforms our golf communities, especially in 2020. Whether at our championships, rating courses, or growing the game together, your dedication to our purpose is inspiring. Saying thank you just doesn’t seem to capture the depth of our appreciation for the way you share your time and talents with us. The passion and commitment that you bring to Golf Ontario is priceless, and it exponentially impacts our members and stakeholders. On behalf of the entire staff team at Golf Ontario, we are deeply grateful to you”.


President of Golf Ontario’s Board of Directors, Howard Atkinson, added “on behalf of the Board of Directors, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the 262 active volunteers that have contributed to the success of Golf Ontario this year. We on the Board are also volunteers, so we know exactly what an extraordinary effort it has taken this year to supply Ontarians with a golf experience that they deserve, and I know it was well received this year. Thank you on behalf of the Board of Directors for a sensational year, we look forward to working with many of you for years to come”.


While every single volunteer plays a crucial role in the success of Golf Ontario’s operations, each year the organization recognizes a few shinning individuals who have gone above and beyond their volunteer commitments. This year’s very deserving 2020 award recipients are as follows:


2020 Volunteer of the Year – Lee Griffin

The Golf Ontario Volunteer of the Year Award has been designed to recognize and honor a Golf Ontario volunteer who has demonstrated outstanding performance and contributions, while preserving the integrity and traditions of the game.


This year’s deserving recipient is Lee Griffin. “Over the last 20 years, Lee Griffin, has shown her dedication to Golf Ontario. She has been an award winner multiple times in the past: 2009 Volunteer of the Year, 2011 Honorary Life Director, 2017 Distinguished Service Award. Lee assisted at multiple qualifiers and championships this season and acted as a Rules Chair for each qualifier and the Women’s Amateur. As mentioned, she has helped move along the Level Two’s, forwarding them along to us to get them the experience that they need. She ran the online seminars in the spring and looked after the exams following”.


Lee would like to “thank John, Rob, and the other members of the Golf Ontario staff, who through their hard work in the spring made it possible for us to have tournaments. I’d like to thank Gerry Bower who was my partner in crime for teaching the Level Two’s this year. We certainly didn’t know when we started in January that we would keep going until May, but for once people actually enjoyed having a webinar of the Rules of Golf. There are a number of referee’s and tournament officials who worked a lot of tournaments this year as well, and without your dedication the tournaments wouldn’t exist. I would like to personally say thank you, because your dedication to the organization makes it possible for all of us to benefit”.


Lee concluded with a quote, saying “I think Marlene Stewart Streit said it best – Golf is about the friends you meet along the way. For me, and I think for a lot of other officials, we have become friends and the social part of being a volunteer is what really keeps us going. I would like to say thank you very much to my friends, it’s been a wonderful year and I hope we have many more years together”.


Honorary Life Director – John Swift

Honorary Life Directors are recognized for their outstanding achievements through their involvement as a Committee and Board Member. “This award goes to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to Golf Ontario’s vision and mission”, explained Mike Kelly.


The 2020 recipient of the Honorary Life Director award is John Swift. “John Swift served as a member of the Board of Directors from 2008 to 2010 and was the President from 2010 to 2011. John is also a former district coordinator for Hamilton. He ran all the district tournaments and was in charge of overseeing the overall organization and operations of each tournament”.


Golf Ontario’s Executive Director Mike Kelly had some words of appreciation for John, as John was unable to join the virtual awards ceremony today. “I just want to use this opportunity to share a few words. From my early days at Golf Ontario, you were an instrumental leader. Whether at golf tournaments or around the board table, your impact was meaningful at a time when you may remember, we launched the Ontario Summer Games and were part of the Games for the first time back. As well when Golf in School’s was just taking off across Ontario. You should be very proud! It’s been a while since I’ve seen you, but I remember fondly, seeing you quite a bit at our championships. I just want to tell you that this honour is well deserved, and you’ve left a great legacy”, expressed Mike Kelly.


Dick Grimm Distinguished Award – Jim Bristow

The Dick Grimm Distinguished Service Award is considered the highest honor, recognizing individual service to the game of golf in Ontario. The award is named after Richard H. Grimm, who was affectionately known as “Mr. Canadian Open” for his service to the event from 1965 to 1993. Golf Ontario’s Dick Grimm Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual’s meritorious service as a volunteer. Recipients of this award embody the principles of integrity, dignity, and commitment, which are central to the volunteer experience and to Mr. Grimm’s persona. This honour recognizes individuals who over a significant period, have demonstrated outstanding leadership and involvement in the growth of Amateur Golf in Ontario. The recipient will also demonstrate a commitment to the vision and mission of Golf Ontario by promoting and upholding the values of the association and the game.


Receiving the Dick Grimm Distinguished Award, “Jim Bristow has demonstrated a long-term commitment to Golf Ontario, our mission, and advancing the sport. Jim Bristow from London is a past Ontario Golf Association President (OGA) in 1996, has been a volunteer with Golf Ontario since 2002, and was recognized as an Honorary Life Director in 2015. Jim retired in 2018 from actively working as a Level Four rules official, site coordinator, and senior rules official, but still on our Golf Ontario finance and audit committee”.


Board of Director member of the Finance & Audit Committee, Sheldon Chychrun added kind words as well. “Thank you for your contribution to Golf Ontario’s finance and audit committee. Jim shares his investment knowledge, which is extensive, as well as his knowledge of our organization which has helped guide our Golf Ontario investment funds. Jim has spent countless hours preparing historical information for all the different funds. He has always had this amazing ability to challenge us in an extremely respectful way, that has helped our organization continue to move forward. We really appreciate all his hard work, his attention to detail, and his contributions to Golf Ontario”.


Jim was thrilled to be recognized for this award, saying “having known Dick Grimm for over 25 years, it’s indeed an honour to win an award that bears his name. It also affords me one last trip down memory lane. I have enjoyed working with all the staff, who share a common appreciation for volunteers and their role in the organization. The financial condition of the organization is strong and in very good hands. I would be remiss if I did not offer kudos to Mike Kelly, John Lawrence, Rob Watson, the other staff, and all the volunteers who managed to have a season of championships in 2020, under the most trying conditions. In closing, I would again like to thank all the great volunteers and staff who kept me enjoying the involvement and challenges that made this recognition possible”.


The Paul “Fitz” Fitzgerald Award – Darrell Peters

Recognized for his extensive work course rating, Darrell Peters is the 2020 recipient of the Fitz Award. “Darrell Peters has helped the Hamilton team with course rating and provided his insight into best practices that works for his team. Darrell has created an automated form, which has allowed all of our teams to save time and provided a better platform of transferring data recorded on course to the course rating program. Darrell is also involved with the handicap committee at his home club, Markland Woods”.


Handicap and Course Rating Coordinator, Duncan Chau, added “I still remember the first time I met Darrell at our course rating seminar. Through these times of getting to know Darrell, either at our Handicap seminars or conversations over the phone, he has really demonstrated his passion for course rating. Thank you so much for all of your contributions and the automated form that has been helping all of our other teams throughout the year, with building ratings as well as helping shape our team by making a positive impact in Ontario”.


Darrell followed up the acceptance by saying “thank you all for the kind words and for the award. It sounded really easy when I volunteered to make this spreadsheet, but I knew I had to improve my knowledge of excel and course ratings to make this happen, but I was up for that. I went slow over the winter, sending out a couple of prototypes to various people. A number of times this winter I thought I was in way over my head, and I was afraid I was going to be the most hated course rater in Ontario if people were frustrated with something that wasn’t working. But here we are a year later, and the spreadsheet has been used by team leaders in Ontario and Manitoba. I’ve received lots of feedback from team leaders and lots of ideas for improvement, so I think it was a success. This award that I received today tells me that Golf Ontario acknowledges the success as well, so for that I’m very appreciative”.


Mike Kelly closed the 2020 Volunteer Recognition Day by saying “thank you again everyone for joining us today. We are so incredibly lucky to have such a brilliant team of volunteers and we cannot do this without your support. To all of our award winners today, Lee, John, Jim, and Darrell, congratulations to you. To all of our volunteers, thanks to each and every one of you. What you do for Golf Ontario matters deeply, and we look forward to continuing this journey in 2021 with you. Enjoy the off season, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay happy!”


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For more information please contact:

Brianna Christopher, Assistant, Marketing Communications.
Golf Ontario


Peter MacKellar, Manager, Marketing and Communications.
Golf Ontario