Joined: 06 May 2005
Location: London, Ontario CANADA
|Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:47 am Post subject: Wilson Golf Reed On The Greens - Golf Gives Back
|Wilson Golf Reed On The Greens, by Jeffrey Reed
July 25, 2011
Copyright 2011 London Ontario Golf
The world of sports is bursting at the seams with awards and accolades. Like you, I’ve received my share in the form of Little League baseball MVP trophies, track and field medals and game balls awarded to me by my teammates. Yet the real prize isn’t the award, but the accomplishment itself – and even more so the road travelled to achieve that goal.
When I speak to groups including schools, businesses and churches, I do talk about pitching semi-pro baseball as a 39-year-old rookie, and of becoming a scratch golfer for the first time in my late-40s. But my inspirational story focuses on being a disabled person, and the hard work it took to achieve those milestones. The message is clear: keep your eye on the prize but see the journey as the real accomplishment.
So, when LondonOntarioGolf.com decided it was time to award a member of the local golf community with the annual Heart Award, the paths travelled en route to accomplishing incredible feats became the focus of the award. With LondonOntarioGolf.com now recognized nationally as an industry leader, I felt it right to leave a legacy in the form of recognizing someone else for excellence.
Mike Olizarevitch, 65, is the first winner of the annual Heart Award, chosen by the editorial team at LondonOntarioGolf.com – proud supporter of the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario. Each June, the award will recognize a London and area community member who helps grow the game of golf.
Olizarevitch retired in 2009 after 49 years at Fanshawe Golf Club in London, where he was head professional for 39 years. This year, he joined his daughter, Kim Shaw, and son-in-law, Andy Shaw, to help operate Dorchester Golf Club. Andy and Kim purchased the club this spring, following Andy’s 17-year career with the City of London golf courses.
In 1998, Fanshawe Golf Club opened the Parkside Nine after Olizarevitch envisioned turning a small parcel of land into a golf course for those who couldn’t golf at a traditional course. He said, “The physically challenged play basketball and ski, so why not golf?” Olizarevitch volunteered at London’s Parkwood Hospital where a 3,000-yard putting green had been developed for rehabilitation and therapy for spinal cord and wheelchair-bound patients.
Olizarevitch had struck up a friendship with Lise Thibault, former Lieutenant Governor of Quebec who had been in a wheelchair for four decades. She visited Olizarevitch for a lesson in 1998 and called the Parkside Nine “a model for other municipalities.” In 2002, the Ontario PGA named Olizarevitch its first Humanitarian Award winner for his efforts in designing the Parkside Nine.
Olizarevitch’s golf passion began in 1958, when he took $10 from his newspaper route savings to purchase a junior membership at Fanshawe Golf Club. He joined the grounds crew in 1963, was named assistant pro in 1965, and in 1970 replaced Bill Fox as head pro – a post he held until 2009.
By age 50, Olizarevitch had amassed 66 tournament titles. In the days of persimmon drivers, Olizarevitch was known as London and area’s most skilled backshop expert, repairing and regripping clubs for countless golfers in southwestern Ontario. At Dorchester Golf Club, he left retirement to cut grass, handle maintenance and teach lessons – including lessons with the Dorchester Junior Golf Academy.
“Without a doubt, I wouldn’t be the professional I am today without my experience at Fanshawe and the teachings from Mike,” said Andy Shaw, convenor of the much-respected Junior Tyson Tour, now headquartered at Dorchester Golf Club.
“The environment gets in our blood, and there’s nothing else you want to do. I feel like I haven’t worked a day in my life,” said Olizarevitch of his half-century career in the golf industry.
Olizarevitch lives in London with his wife, Sheren. Mike Olizarevitch Jr. is assistant greenskeeper at York Downs Golf & Country Club in Unionville, Ontario. Andy and Kim have carried on the family golf tradition by introducing their daughters, Mackenzie, 14, and Jamie, 12, to the game of golf.
When Olizarevitch accepted his award June 24, we both shed a few tears. Without a doubt, we were both proud of the award, and for different reasons. But we were more proud of the journey taken which led us to that day.
Wish to comment? E-mail email@example.com with the subject line, Letter To The Editor. Published responses will be posted at the 19th Hole section of the London Ontario Golf In the News Message Board.
About Wilson Golf
For nearly a century, Wilson Golf has designed, manufactured and distributed premium and recreational golf equipment throughout the world. Since 1914, Wilson Staff irons have won 61 Major championships, more than any other iron manufacturer in history. Wilson Staff's D-FY combo set, FG Tour irons, Conform glove and the distance D:25 golf ball were honored with Golf Digest's Hot List awards in 2010. Wilson Staff, Profile, ProStaff and Hope consumer brands continue that tradition today by delivering the highest quality golf equipment to all golfers to enhance performance on the course and overall enjoyment of the game.