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From Lone Player to Community Leader: Chief Ted Williams’ Golf Journey

Chief Ted Williams is a complex individual, yet his reason for taking up golf nearly 40 years ago—and why he continues to play today—is quite straightforward.

“Golf is enjoyable,” Williams concedes. “Now, what I find most rewarding about the sport is the opportunity to meet new people and cultivate relationships on the course.”

In his youth, Williams was an avid hockey and softball player. He ventured into golf at the age of 28 with a solo round at Lake St. George Golf Club in Washago, Ontario. For the initial six or seven years, Williams exclusively played alone.

“I used to have this pronounced left-to-right shot that I was somewhat self-conscious about, so I’d play alone, early in the morning,” Williams recalls. “I also had a young family and that meant if I wanted to play, I had to be out at dawn and back by breakfast time.”

Eventually, Williams grew increasingly fond of golf and, in 1993, was invited to participate in the club championship at Lake St. George. He had never played competitively, but without any preconceived notions or competitive history, he entered the championship—and won, igniting a remarkable streak of victories and notable finishes that continues to this day.

“The triumph at that first club championship in ’93 spurred my interest in competitive golf,” Williams reflects. “I dedicated myself to improving, to mastering the diverse shots and learning how to score even on off days.”

Williams reclaimed the Lake St. George club championship in 1999. He dominated the Hawk Ridge Golf Club championship for eight consecutive years and won the Horseshoe Valley club championship in 2011. He’s competed in numerous Ontario and Canadian Men’s Mid-Amateur tournaments and even attempted to qualify for the PGA TOUR Champions Tour at age 50. While he didn’t qualify, he was the leading amateur finisher that week.

He has also competed in the Indigenous Ontario Championship and is an enthusiastic supporter, planning to participate again this year.

“The Indigenous Ontario Championship is a magnificent event for many reasons,” Williams states. “It celebrates the remarkable talent of Indigenous golfers throughout the province.”

Williams has been a steadfast supporter of Indigenous communities nationwide for many years. He was elected Chief of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation at the age of 27. Now, approaching 70 and with extensive corporate experience, he has returned as Chief of Rama First Nation, serving his community in various capacities.

Once predominantly a softball community, Rama First Nation has embraced golf.

“Just a decade ago, you could count on two hands the number of golfers in our community,” Williams acknowledges. “Today, we have over a hundred people of all ages enjoying the game.”

Williams credits the pandemic with introducing many in his community to golf, but believes there are additional factors that have sustained their interest.

“The pandemic certainly boosted golf’s popularity province-wide, and that’s reflected in our community,” he says. “Yet, our people have kept at it because the game is enjoyable and the golf course feels like a welcoming place, where they can connect with familiar faces from the community.”  

As he reflects on a lifetime of achievements, both on the course and within his community, Williams looks forward to nurturing the next generation of golfers, ensuring that the legacy of unity and enjoyment he helped to establish continues to flourish for years to come.

As April marks the observance of Celebrate Diversity Month, it presents Golf Ontario with a wonderful opportunity to share inspiring stories and honour the diverse backgrounds and contributions of our members, volunteers, players, and colleagues.