Tournament founder Glenn Goodwin, in black, likes to thank his team of top guns, which includes, from left, co-ordinator Theresa Coleman, operations director Gerry van der Valk, rules official Randy Korn, rules and competitions director Don Butcher and his wife Jane, the Star Amateur’s chair of scoring.
Glenn Goodwin had the idea and the drive, but he says his supporting cast made the Star Amateur a success
By Jim Byers
Ask anyone in golf in Canada who's responsible for the GTAGA and the highly successful Toronto StarAmateur championships and they'll say Glenn Goodwin. Ask Glenn Goodwin, the president and founder of the Greater Toronto Area Golf Association and a 32-year employee of the Star, and he'll tell you it's the team of men and women at his side.
"Nobody writes about people behind the scenes. Everybody just assumes these things happen by themselves."
"The recipe for success started early as the Toronto Starand the Buick Dealers of Ontario signed on with me as the title and presenting sponsors in 1998,"
Goodwin says. "St. George's Golf and Country Club signed on as host of the inaugural event. It was that kind of solid start that enabled us to make the Starmen's and women's amateur tournaments North America's premier city championships." Goodwin also cites the"terrific" support he gets from the Royal Canadian Golf Association and the Golf Association of Ontario. But he used his own powers of salesmanship to bring on a few of Canada's best-known golf people to act as advisers: World Golf Hall of Fame member Marlene Streit, Sandra Post, Canada's first LPGA star, and former RCGA chief Dick Grimm.
"Once I had my advisers and the sponsors, I knew I needed to find some men and women to help; people who really knew their stuff. I talked to amateur golfers and professionals in Canada and heads of industry. I wanted the best, the top guns in golf, if you like."
One of the first people he lined up was Don Butcher, the director of rules and competitions.
"We sat down to have lunch and Don didn't know me from Adam," Goodwin says. "I told him I had the Star, Buick and St. George's lined up, and I told him I wanted to run the best amateur event in North America. He just grinned."
Butcher has worked the PGA Tour, the Canadian Tour and the World Golf Tour. But he had never helped run an amateur tourney.
"He's a pro's pro," Goodwin says. "To this day, he reminds me of a very thorough, detailed principal at school — a guy you wouldn't want to cross. But he's a wonderful guy, and just so professional. He drives himself so hard. My heart was in the right place when I started the StarAmateur tournaments, but I didn't have Don's experience."
Butcher is a former chief financial officer for Pepsi and a top executive with the Simmons Bedding Co. He always loved golf, however, and was intrigued that even experienced, low-handicappers didn't really know the rules of the game.
"I took the RCGA's rules course and then, out of the blue, I called the commissioner of the Canadian Tour, Bob Beauchemin. He hired my wife Jane and me to help run tournaments for him. We travelled all across the country in the 1990s running tournaments. I was the head rules guy and Jane did the scoring tent and other administrative work. Finally one year, in 2001 I guess, we did 17 tournaments in a row — week after week after week right across the country. That kind of took the fun out of it."
Butcher says he didn't know much about Goodwin or the Star Amateur when he was asked to climb on board.
"I do remember our first meeting," he says with a laugh. "As you know, with Goody you do a lot of listening and he does the talking.
Some people turn their noses up at amateur golf but it sounded good to me. And these are top-notch amateurs. Some of the guys who've won the StarAmateur have gone on to the Canadian Tour," while some of the women are now on the LPGA circuit.
Goodwin's other key lieutenant is Gerry van der Valk, who acts as director of tournament operations.
"Before I met Gerry I telephoned the top amateurs in the country and said I was looking to run an event and asked them who they thought highly of in amateur golf. A lot of them mentioned Gerry. I met with him and told him what I had in mind and he was like, ‘Who are you?' "
Goodwin laughs at the recollection.
"It was pretty funny. I was just a guy who worked at the Star. But he signed on and he has been a godsend. He's one of those people who's totally self-motivated."
"I used to be director of amateur tournaments for the RCGA and one day Glenn contacted me about the Star amateur tournaments," van der Valk says. "I met him and told him I was interested."
Van der Valk says he has worked with pros but prefers amateur golf.
"A lot of players at a national event will spend thousands of dollars to play in a tournament," he says. "They're really good people, and I quite enjoy it. It's a ton of work but it's fun."
Goodwin is the public face of the tournament; a very passionate, fun-loving guy who delights in cracking jokes with the media as he drives them madly about the course searching for the best stories at the tournaments. He's generous to a fault and loves to tell stories about growing up in St. Thomas and caddying for top area golfers.
As boisterous as Goodwin can be, van der Valk says he's all business once the tournaments roll around.
"He's very professional. He stands there all day long on the first tee and does all the introductions for each player. I like watching him turn from white to red from the sun."
The entire StarAmateur team is a remarkable bunch, when you get right down to it.
They're often out at the golf course before dawn, and more often than not they can also be seen cleaning up the clubhouse or chatting with golfers well after dark.
"Nobody writes about the people behind the scenes," Goodwin says. "Everyone just assumes these things happen by themselves. But it's a huge undertaking and I have people such as Theresa Coleman, who's a past ladies captain at Lambton and acts as our tournament co-ordinator.And I've got great rules officials such as Randy Korn from the Canadian Tour and Anne Dodds- Hebron and Worden Teasdale from the RCGA. My team of top guns has grown to 16 people. It has been a great story and an amazing building process."
I guess the best testimonial to date for our success was that the Buick Dealers of Ontario signed on through 2010 — a remarkable 12 years as corporate sponsors,” Goodwin says.
Those entered in the eighth annual Toronto Star Women's Amateur will play for the Ruth Atkinson Hindmarsh crystal trophy at Whitevale Golf Club (June 26-27) and Meadowbrook Golf and Country Club (June 28- 29). The men will tee it up in the ninth annual Toronto Star Amateur for the John Honderich crystal trophy at Scarboro Golf and Country Club (July 24-25) and Cedar Brae Golf and Country Club (July 26-27). For further information on the tournaments go to www.gtaga.com or call the GTAGA at 416-239 - 0708. Closing dates for entries are May 16 for men and June 15 for women.
Both events are presented by Nevada Bob's Golf in association with the Buick Dealers of Ontario, LastMinuteGolfer and Taylor- Made-adidas Golf.