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Course record ‘fore’ Ukraine refugees

Over $4,300 raised for Red Cross during Peter Boronkay's marathon effort
Ukraine golf print
Boronkay played 101 holes of golf June 6 to raise funds for refugees of the war in Ukraine.

When Peter Boronkay saw the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfold earlier this year, he couldn’t believe what was taking place.

Boronkay says he was “shocked that today there’s tanks rolling through Europe. I figured we would have evolved out of that by now.”

“The impact of that is seven million refugees leaving the country, and eight million internal refugees,” said Boronkay. 

“So the idea was to see how I could help in some way. Being a governor of Golf Canada, golf was the logical thing I could do,” he says.

Boronkay set to work and came up with a plan: knock off the Bowen Golf Course single-day hole record while raising funds for each hole played. The previous record was 81, so Boronkay set his goal for 90.

While these 10 rounds were his stated goal, Boronkay says “I like the philosophy of under-promising and over-delivering. So although I officially said 90 in my mind, I decided I’m going to go for 1-0-1.”

To accomplish the feat, some good help and good fortune would be necessary. Both were present on June 6, when Boronkay teed off from the first hole at 5 am.

First, a dedicated team of four volunteers helped ferry Boronkay around the course in different shifts. “They drove the cart, I hit the balls. That was for efficiency because I wanted to make sure I could get this project done.”

Boronkay added Monday morning’s cloudy weather “actually was helpful, because when it’s cooler you’re not overheating in the sunshine. So it’s actually good that it was not too hot.”

Not that weather would have been a factor anyway, Boronkay explains. “The course kindly offered that if the weather was really bad they’d reschedule me. I said I don’t care what the weather is, it could be hailing all day long, I’m doing it.”

“I use the analogy of Ernest Shackleton: if Shackleton could survive a shipwreck in the Antarctic and row his way out, there’s no excuse for me not to be able to golf for a full day.”

Boronkay golf
Boronkay gets ready to swing away on the Bowen Golf Course's first hole on June 6. / Submitted

In addition, the golf club booked off the course until noon, allowing Boronkay seven hours of unimpeded access to start the day. “It was a surreal experience. Just imagine playing seven hours of golf before you see a player.”

“It was something else to be just firing through the course, every round was just under an hour… That allowed us to be hyper efficient,” says Boronkay.

As the day wrapped up, Boronkay had completed his goal of 10 rounds, added one more round to hit 99 total holes, and then for good measure played the first and ninth holes to pass the century mark and hit 101.

“I like three digits more than two,” Boronkay quips.

And most importantly, with many fundraising donors contributing on a per hole basis, the money raised to support Red Cross efforts in Ukraine has come pouring in, with more than $4,300 raised.

“I’m happy that I chose the cause that I did, and it certainly helped that the Red Cross already has all the mechanisms in place for fundraising,” says Boronkay.

“All one needs to be is creative to create a fundraising event and come up with an interesting idea, and then reverse engineer the process,” says Boronkay on his effort, and how other people can come up with their own unique fundraisers.

“I tend to do that in what I do in my profession, and I could do it here too."