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PNGA Board Member Leslie Crawford to Receive Sport BC Presidents’ Award

by Bryan Outram/British Columbia Golf.

The 51st Sport BC Athlete of the Year Awards are coming up March 8th and at that time Sport BC will also be recognizing the Presidents’ Award winners in various levels of sport including golf.

The Presidents’ Awards are presented annually to volunteers from Sport BC member organizations who “represent the spirit of volunteerism, and whose dedication, energy, and commitment contribute to the development of their sport or organization in the province of British Columbia.”

The recipient of a Presidents’ Award this year for the sport of golf is Victoria’s Leslie Crawford who counts among the many roles she has taken on, the position of Volunteer Chair for the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship.

The PGA Champions Tour event held at Bear Mountain Golf Resort last year is returning this fall due in no small part to the tremendous work done by Leslie and her volunteer committee.

Much of the credit for the 600-strong volunteer group assembled for the week-long event went to Crawford for her tireless efforts in not only the recruitment element but also for the actual training of the volunteer teams. She will once again be heading up the volunteer effort for the 2017 tournament, to be held in September at Bear Mountain.

Educated at the University of Calgary and subsequently spending several years in the education system as both a teacher and a principal, Crawford established herself as a willing and capable volunteer during her time in Alberta, particularly while working the Alberta Opens held at Wolf Creek in Ponoka.

She had started playing the game in 1988 and as she is quick to admit, “I like to get involved.” So it wasn’t long before she found her way into the world of volunteering at local tournaments. Working initially as a forecaddie it didn’t take her much time either to establish a rapport with the players, particularly when she would ask them as they approached her territory, “Do you want to find your ball?”

Crawford credits watching the pros play in those Alberta Opens with helping her learn so much about the game both from a playing perspective and as an official whose job it is to assist those players when things go slightly awry with golf balls ending up in some rather peculiar places.

It was actually the death of her brother that she terms as her wake-up call. Her decision to leave Alberta came about partly in order to “get away from my habits,” as she had found herself unhappy with being overweight.

Landing in Langford just outside Victoria on Vancouver Island in 2010 and becoming a member of the Bear Mountain Resort community and its golf course allowed her to continue her involvement as a passionate volunteer.

That role expanded considerably in 2012 when her home club hosted the PNGA Women’s Amateur for which she had volunteered. “I wanted to find an organization to donate my time to,” recalled Crawford, “and I was so impressed with the quality and professionalism of how that championship was conducted.”

Not long after that she became a PNGA Club Representative, was involved in the PNGA Women’s Division and continued to give her time as a lead volunteer at subsequent PNGA Championships. Troy Andrew, the organization’s CEO/Executive Director, recognized the energy and skill set that Crawford brought and approached her about becoming further involved leading to her being named the secretary for the PNGA Executive Committee.

Right around this time Crawford discovered cross-fitness which was a perfect outlet to enable her admitted “strong need for organization and structure.” Her dedication to the world of cross-fit training saw her lose 75 lbs. and now, as she says, “For me, it’s about being as fit as can be.” In that manner it probably isn’t a bad thing that she also has, again in her words, “an addictive personality.”

Crawford came to realize a while ago that whereas some people would offer money in an attempt to give back to an organization or project that they wanted to support, she wanted to give her time. She’s been doing that whole-heartedly for over 30 years now and she’ll tell you that her favorite part of volunteering is seeing the result of making it better for others involved, competitors, spectators or anyone surrounding the event.

Leslie’s commitment to that ideal is fairly evident as she relates excitedly that, “It’s not going to fail if I have anything to do with it.”