On November 7, 2020, Paul Ramsdell of Gig Harbor, Wash. was elected president of Washington Golf at the association’s 99th annual meeting, which was held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic.
For Paul, 63, this is the culmination of a long history of involvement in the region’s golf community, in almost every possible facet of it.
He grew up in Redding, Calif., and graduated from the University of Oregon in 1979 with a degree in journalism. He worked in the sports departments at newspapers up and down the West Coast – in Pendleton, Lewiston, Eugene, Tucson and Tacoma. For three years he was a senior editor at ESPN.com, and for three years was the editor of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine (published by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association) to which he still contributes articles.
Paul has worked in the sports department of The Seattle Times, off and on from 2006, and continues to this day to work part-time as a sports copy editor for that newspaper. As a golf writer over the years, he covered six major golf championships.
He served as president of the Northwest Golf Media Association from 2000-2006, receiving that organization’s Distinguished Service Award in 2008.
From 2008-2010, Paul was club manager at Kitsap Golf and Country Club, and from 2010-2018 he served as executive director of the Western Washington Golf Course Superintendents Association. In 2011, he also began his role as executive director of the Northwest Turfgrass Association, which he continues to this day.
In 1989, Paul joined Fircrest (Wash.) Golf Club. He was elected to that club’s Board in 2002, served as vice president in 2003-2004, and then as president in 2005. He also served as chairperson on that club’s Green Committee, and wrote Fircrest’s 75-year history book.
“I first learned about Washington Golf while I was working as a sportswriter for the Tacoma News Tribune,” Paul says. “I’d write all the stories about the State Amateur, about their annual Players of the Year awards. I saw all their press releases, and used them in my articles.”
It was because of Paul’s knowledge of Washington Golf championships and events in the late 1990s that he was invited to become a Club Representative at-Large for the association.
“I obviously had an interest in golf, with my writing and other activities,” Paul says. “This seemed like a natural way for me to continue to be involved in the industry.”
At the association’s annual meeting in 2008, Paul was elected to the Board of Directors. At the next year’s annual meeting, he was elected vice president of District 3. Then at the 2010 annual meeting, he was elected secretary, a role he served until 2020.
Doug Rohner of Tacoma Country and Golf Club served as president of Washington Golf from 2017-2020, and he created a new “president-elect” position on the Board of Directors. Paul was elected to that position, which he served in 2020 prior to being elected president.
“This ‘president-elect’ position is a good idea,” Paul says, looking back. “It helps the incoming president get something of a running start on the duties as a president. I wouldn’t call it ‘mentoring,’ rather more like preparing the incoming president for a smooth hand-off.”
In his time as president-elect, Paul was able to get a good idea of the time commitment involved, what the overall schedule and duties would be, see where the current challenges are, and get an idea of the direction the association is going and prepare his own agenda for his upcoming term as president.
“This year, 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing an unexpected boom in the golf industry, a lot of fears have been eased about the state of the game,” Paul says. “Options for outdoor activities were limited, and golf provided an outlet for people to get outdoors in a safe manner. I think it opened people’s eyes about how great the game is, about what an enjoyable activity it is to be able to do with family and friends.
“Now, the challenge for us is to figure out ways to keep the momentum going.”
Another bright spot in 2020 was the growth of Washington Golf’s Youth on Course program. “Finding ways to get people into the game, at any age, is what we want to focus on,” Paul says. “I’ve always had a notion that the week after the Masters (usually in early April), with the beginning of a new golf season, spring is in the air, you’ve just seen a great golf major played on a beautiful golf course, it’s time to pull the clubs out of the closet. Make all the range balls free at every driving range for a week, let the kids play free for a week.
“We’ve already accomplished much of this with our Youth on Course program (offering $5 rounds of golf to kids age 6-18). We saw a significant jump in youth joining the program in 2020 (membership in Washington grew by 60 percent). Let’s make them golfers for life.
“We want to make the game available to everyone. The game wins when anyone who wants to play, can play.”