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NORTON, Massachusetts – Whenever Mass Golf has needed something done, Ann O’Donnell has been there to answer the call, quite literally.
She’s the first to answer when the alarms go off or the doors aren’t working properly at The William F. Connell Golf House, home of Mass Golf and the Mass Golf Hall of Fame. She has leaned out of the office windows to chip away at ice dams, shoveled snow off the building after Nor’Easters, replaced broken ceiling tiles and bailed out water when there were leaks. And whenever somebody needed a hand with something, she’s been there to help.
“Since the time I was a little kid, if I saw something that needed to be done, I stepped in,” O’Donnell said. “Golf House has been a second home. Whenever something needed to be done, I grabbed the bull by the horns and moved forward.
“It was the way I was raised.”
O’Donnell, who holds the title of Controller after 15 years at Mass Golf, has helped the association achieve financial success while managing human resources. But she’s especially admired by her colleagues and peers for always being willing and able to do whatever was needed, all while making others feel welcome.
“She’s the most dependable person in the world,” said Linda Tisevich, Mass Golf’s Administrative Services Coordinator. “She’s always had great temperament. She would always drop what she was doing to help others. She wants to see people succeed.”
After her decade and a half with Mass Golf, O’Donnell is retiring at the end of March. However, she is leaving behind a legacy of tremendous growth for the organization.
She has taken part in the merger between the state’s two major golf associations that formed Mass Golf at the beginning of 2018, and there are now over 20 full-time staffers as part of the association, a drastic increase since O’Donnell started in 2005.
Also, she has gotten Member Clubs up to speed for setting up online member registration, score posting and record keeping.
“She’s been very much a versatile team player,” said Jesse Menachem, Executive Director/CEO of Mass Golf. “She has her core functions around accounting and finance, but she’s also invested time in learning about the golf administration service side, being very passionate about taking care of our members, whether it’s individual golfers or Member Clubs, and wanting to get them timely and efficient responses.”
O’Donnell also played an important role managing projects for Mass Golf. Early on, she joined the committee tasked with restoring an unkempt clubhouse at The Links at Mass Golf, which was acquired by Mass Golf in 2003. She worked alongside Joe McCabe, the former Executive Director of The First Tee of Massachusetts, to help make it a better host facility for the The First Tee operations. Together, they helped secure a bid for the reconstruction, and according to colleagues, O’Donnell was there every day to check in on the progress.
“We made the push that the kids deserved better,” O’Donnell said. “They needed a more family-friendly facility.”
Added Menachem: “She was a key player in that process.”
O’Donnell, who grew up in Dedham, attended Northeastern University and later received an Associate Degree in Accounting from Newbury College. She began her 36 years in the workforce at Boston Capital Partners and later became an accountant at Briggs Nursery in North Attleboro. Prior to working in golf, she not only managed finances but learned details of project management at the same time.
Shortly after O’Donnell started at what was then known as the Massachusetts Golf Association, she helped Tisevich also make the move from Briggs to the golf association.
“I always thank her for remembering me,” Tisevich said.
Even with her long track record of helping Mass Golf succeed, O’Donnell said the most rewarding part is receiving letters from past employees and interns.
“Every time I walked into her office to talk to her, I walked out of it better off,” said Steven Yatrousis, the Championship Coordinator for Mass Golf and a former USGA P.J. Boatwright, Jr. Intern. “Whether she taught me something, showed me something, or if we just had a genuine conversation, I always enjoyed speaking with her. I will miss her as a colleague but more importantly as a friend.”
“Ann has always looked out for the betterment of Mass Golf,” added Kevin Eldridge, Mass Golf’s Director of Rules & Competition. “She truly cares about the association, our entire staff and all of our member clubs/member golfers.”
O’Donnell has since been training her replacement, James Haynes, the Director of Finance at Mass Golf. Haynes started at Mass Golf in February after spending several years as Senior Manager of Finance for IGT/GTECH in Providence.
“She’s given me the lay of the land of what she’s strived to do from a financial prospective,” Haynes said. “At the end of the day, we want to make sure everything is running smoothly.”
As for retirement, O’Donnell said she’s looking forward to an autumn trip to Ireland to celebrate her 35th wedding anniversary with her husband Stephen.
Said O’Donnell, “I’m ready for a new adventure.”
Mass Golf Vice President & Treasurer Alan Macdonald wrote this poem in honor of Ann O’Donnell.
Thanks for the memories
Of budgets keenly met,
That kept us out of debt.
You’re such a pro, you helped us grow,
And made Mass Golf well-set.
We thank you, so much!
And thanks for the memories,
From one who knows the ropes,
And always neatly copes
With any task we dare to ask,
Then meets our highest hopes!
We thank you, sooooooo much!