Susan White – leaving the job, but still loving the game, and the people
by Brad Ziemer
There’s lots that Susan White is going to miss about her former job as senior manager of field operations with British Columbia Golf.
For starters, White will always treasure the countless friendships she forged with many of the volunteers and players she shepherded over the past dozen years as she ran the organization’s busy summer schedule of tournaments.
But there is one thing that White, who just retired from British Columbia Golf, won’t particularly miss. That would be driving her truck and a large trailer to the events all over the province.
Three years ago, White added truck and trailer driving to her resume. She decided it would be more efficient for one person to haul all the gear to events, rather than splitting it between two or three vehicles.
So, White hitched that trailer to her burgundy Ford F-150 pickup truck and wound her way throughout B.C., dropping her rig somewhere in the parking lot of whatever course was playing host to a tournament that particular week.
“I had never pulled a trailer before,” White says with a laugh. “Originally, when I was seeing this plan, it was going to be a smaller trailer than we ended up getting. It wasn’t as big a challenge as I anticipated it would be, but I am glad I don’t have to do that anymore.”
White handled that chore the way she ran all those championships – flawlessly, as she calmly dealt with a myriad of challenges presented by things like rules violations, player concerns, sometimes inexperienced volunteers and, of course, the weather. She felt a little like the conductor of an orchestra or director of a film.
“A tournament is a tournament, but it always has a different cast of characters and players,” White says. “It was like a new production every week.”
By the end of her 12-year run, White often had a familiar cast at her side. One of Canada’s top rules officials, White helped train a loyal crew of volunteers who worked many of the events with her.
“I think that is what I will miss the most, the relationships I built with a lot of the volunteers and people at the clubs, professionals and staff and what not,” she says. “Having said that, I think there will still be a solid connection because we have become good friends.”
A few years ago, White decided that instead of reserving hotel rooms for rules officials and other out-of-town volunteers, it made sense to instead rent a big house so everyone could stay together at tournaments. The move promoted a team atmosphere and after long tournament days some good meals were prepared and the day’s events were dissected over dinner.
“There were some very good meals, some bottles of wine, some really good stories,” White says. ”Outside of the work atmosphere I still connect with these people and will continue to connect with these people. Some of us go on vacations together.
“It’s like we are a family, all these officials, or referees as we are called now. We can bicker at each other, use each other as sounding boards. We are very much connected. That was so rewarding to have that family community. It made up for the long days and months on the road.”
The difficult times for White came when she had to disqualify players or assess penalties for rules violations. She particularly enjoyed her time running events for B.C.’s junior golfers.
“I really liked working with the junior golfers, especially the younger ones – the bantam-aged kids who were coming up into the ranks – because they were so enthusiastic,” she says.
Kris Jonasson, the longtime chief executive officer of British Columbia Golf, says the association has been fortunate to have White.
“Susan has been a tremendous asset to British Columbia Golf for over 12 years,” Jonasson says. “Her professionalism allowed the organization to move to a much higher level. Although she is leaving our paid staff she will rotate back to being a volunteer and as such will continue to help British Columbia Golf grow as an organization.”
What White is most looking forward to is the opportunity to spend more time with her real family. She and her husband, Richard, are preparing to move into a new home in Burnaby’s UniverCity district near Simon Fraser University.
“All but one of my grandkids decided to be born during the golf season,“ she says. “You miss a lot of birthdays and the growing up. So that is what I am looking forward to, reconnecting with kids and family.”
She also hopes to work on her golf game. White is in her second year as club president of her home course, Pitt Meadows Golf Club.
“That’s the plan,” she says. “(Head professional) Wes Doka and I are going to develop a plan to get my golf game going in a positive direction.”
Brad Ziemer had a 30-year career at the Vancouver Sun newspaper as an editor and sports writer. In 2013, Golf Canada presented him with its Distinguished Service Award. He now writes full time for British Columbia Golf.