Bob Fitzgerald named Volunteer of the Year - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Nov 24, 2008

Bob Fitzgerald named Volunteer of the Year

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Volunteer of the Year

By J. Stacey Redican

  Golf is a life-long pursuit and no one embodies that spirit better than Bob Fitzgerald, the 2008 Volunteer of the Year. Fitzgerald started in the game as a caddie in 1941 at Manufacturer’s Golf & Country Club under the tutelage of legendary figures George Fazio and Bud Lewis. Today, at age 81, Fitzgerald, who still plays golf four times a week, recently completed his 20th year of service with the Golf Association of Philadelphia.

  “It’s a very prestigious award. I was really surprised when I got the call,” said Fitzgerald, who has been a member at McCall Golf & Country Club for more than 50 years, and a member at Sandy Run Country Club since 1983. “I have met so many nice people and old friends that I played golf with from a long time ago that it makes volunteering for the GAP so much fun.”

  Fitzgerald started with the Golf Association of Philadelphia in 1988 after his retirement from PECO. He contacted fellow Sandy Run Country Club member Jim McCann, at that time a member of the Association’s Executive Committee, to ask how he could become involved with the organization. Fitzgerald was quickly absorbed into the Golf Association of Philadelphia volunteer family, and has been working as a starter and/or scorer ever since.

  “I would like to continue volunteering until I’m 85 if I can,” said the spry Fitzgerald, indicating that he still enjoys sending groups off the first tee.

  Fitzgerald has been able to sustain his work ethic in spite of some recent physical setbacks, including triple bypass surgery four years ago, because, as he said, he works at staying healthy. After his heart surgery, he began to exercise rigorously, first, at the Abington Fitness Institute, and now at Planet Fitness, at least three days a week. Bob proudly notes that despite being the oldest of the Fitzgerald boys, he is in the best shape of all eight. That tenacity to stay fit also carries over to his diet. Fitzgerald regularly meets with a nutritionist and scans his food purchases carefully, making sure that he is not inadvertently adding any additional pounds.

  “It’s what you have to do,” said Fitzgerald, who lives in Warminster, Pa.

  Another benefit of his fitness regimen is that is has allowed Fitzgerald to literally travel around the world. He often journeys with his next-door neighbor, Rae Harff, and does not hesitate to go when the opportunity presents itself. He and his companion spent some time in Nova Scotia and on Prince Edward Island last year, eating mussels and lobster, and this year headed for the Canadian Rockies.

  “Whenever [tournament assistant] Tristin [Suzenski] calls and asks me to work, I’m there,” said Fitzgerald, who works four or five events annually.

  He has seen the organization change over the past two decades and credits the current staff with having the biggest impact. He recognizes that they share his life-long love for the game. He is also proud of Sandy Run Country Club’s roster of 14 volunteers, the largest group in the Golf Association of Philadelphia volunteer family.

  Fitzgerald credits many of them for influencing fellow members to volunteer. “They talk it up,” Fitzgerald said, “and that makes others want to help.”

  So, when you see our soft-spoken southpaw, either on the golf courses or at an event, be sure to shake his hand. You will be congratulating someone who has devoted 70-plus years to the game we all love.

  Thank you, Fitz, for the hard work and inspiration you provide.

J. Stacey Redican is a long-time friend of Bob Fitzgerald and Sandy Run member. He is also serving his second year as a Golf Association of Philadelphia Executive Committee member.

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