On Friday evening a former President of Golf Ontario, Barbara Allan, will be inducted into the Kingston & District Sports Hall of Fame.
It’s a well-deserved honour. As you will read in many other tributes because of this recognition, her record as a builder in the game of game is outstanding. Having started at the club level, she progressed to work with the Kingston District of Golf Ontario, escalated to roles with the provincial body, and then applied (and continues to apply) her knowledge and skills to various duties with Golf Canada. It’s an exhausting resume, one that you can do nothing but admire.
After the award was announced this past January my first instinct as the Editor for Flagstick.com and OntarioGolfNews.com was to reach out, congratulate her, and then interview her about the recognition.
The trouble is that even in an interview, dedicated volunteers like Barbara cannot be expected to wax on about their full impact as a volunteer. Not by their fault, but because often they don’t realize the scope of it extends beyond the actual hours of effort they might put in at events, in meetings, on boards, and even in travel.
You see, I not only have to convey congratulations to Barbara, I have to thank her.
I don’t remember my actual first encounter with her and husband Wayne Oakley, a respected volunteer in the golf community in his own right, but I can say that they have become cherished friends. They also opened my eyes to volunteerism in golf.
Yes, I have WORKED in golf my whole life, from the age of 14, but it was not until I was an adult that I began to really recognize the people behind the scenes at golf tournaments and associations. Once I understood their importance I made a vow that at some point I would join them when I had the time.
That opportunity came thanks to Barbara and Wayne.
One day almost a decade ago, while discussing the Golf Ontario Kingston District Player Development Program with them, an initiative that Barbara was instrumental in the creation of, she mentioned to me that I might be a good candidate to be part of the committee given my background in coaching and golf.
It took a few pointed reminders but before long I joined them on the committee. A year later and I became the Chair for the Men’s Program; a role I would serve for several years.
After a hiatus, this year I have once again signed on with Golf Ontario to be a volunteer, serving on a new provincial Golf Advisory Team in communications. I did so without hesitation.
Why? Because people like Barbara Allan, without likely knowing it, showed me how fulfilling the role of a volunteer can be. I respect her for all she has done in her own work, but I am grateful to her even more for the gift she guided me to, just as she has likely also done for many others.
When she is honoured in Kingston this evening they will read out a long list of accomplishments for Barbara Allan, but the real impact of her efforts, and those of other volunteers, spread much further than anyone could really appreciate.
Knowing Barbara as I do I expect she will spend much of the evening of her Hall of Fame induction thanking people for honouring her but it is not her who should be uttering the words.
The golf community is better for her efforts and for that, she is the one to thank.
Congratulations Barbara; I could not be more proud of you.
/ Scott MacLeod @Flagstick