DISTINGUISHED SERVICE: Former GAM Leader Jeff Rivard Honored by International Association of Golf Administrators

The International Association of Golf Administrators (IAGA) will honor the former Golf Association of Michigan (GAM), Western Pennsylvania Golf Association and Sun Country Amateur Golf Association Executive Director Jeff Rivard with their Distiguished Service Award.

 Rivard, 77, a Michigan native who lives in Las Cruces, N.M., will be honored at The Westin Dallas Stonebriar Golf Resort and Spa on Nov. 9 at the IAGA Annual Conference.

 Rivard retired from a storied career in golf administration in 2015. He is only one of two individuals to have served as executive director for three state golf associations. In addition to these roles, he worked for both the United States Golf Association and the LPGA TOUR.

 He began his golf administration career in 1977, serving as the executive director and very first full-time employee for the Sun Country Amateur Golf Association (SCAGA) near Albuquerque, N.M.  During his time at the SCAGA, the organization grew from 3,000 to 16,000 members.

 Following his tenure at the SCAGA, Jeff served as a Rules Official on the LPGA TOUR and followed this post as Director, Regional Affairs with the United States Golf Association.

 In 1984, Rivard returned to both roots as the executive director of the Golf Association of Michigan and concluded his golf administration career with a 22-year post as the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association Executive Director.

 In between, Rivard, a firm believer in volunteerism, served as a USGA Rules Official for 33 years.  He had a significant impact on the IAGA, leading numerous committees, which led to his appointment as the association president in 1992.

 Rivard came to the GAM as its third executive director following James D. Standish III and Bud Erickson in 1984, served through 1992 and was on the scene for the most significant change in the association’s history.

 In 1985 the GAM changed its bylaws to include public golf facilities in the GAM family and services. Previously, and for 66 years, it has been an organization of private golf clubs only.

 Rivard said it didn’t change the membership numbers of the GAM dramatically because public golf facilities didn’t bring in large groups of new individual members, but instead made it available to their customers and leagues.

 “It was the most significant change in terms of being the right thing to do,” he said. “Adding public facilities didn’t have a big effect on the bottom line at first, but it did affect the culture.”

 Rivard’s impact on the golf industry has been far and wide, and felt by many peers within the IAGA community. Below are just a few quotes from fellow IAGA members:

Jamie Conkling (Virginia State Golf Association, Executive Director – Retired)

“In his many decades of employment in the golf industry, Jeff has exhibited excellent administrative abilities, displayed superior administrative knowledge, and has certainly excelled in promoting dialogue between golf administrators and golf organizations without pretense or expectation.”

Terry Teasdale (Western Pennsylvania Golf Association, Executive Director)

“Throughout his lengthy 40 years of service, Jeff has been a dedicated and committed steward of the game.  He has also been a vocal advocate for the game, its history, and traditions on local and national levels.”

Bill Dickens (Iowa Golf Association, Executive Director – Retired)

“Jeff Rivard is a legend in the world of golf administration.  He has been a leader in advocacy for the profession.  He is probably the most quoted person in our community – “Rivardisms” has become a common reference when quoting any dozens of pearls of wisdom that he has given our community.”

 Today Rivard remains actively engaged in the golf association world, whether assisting the SCAGA with their championships, to most recently working the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship in his native state at Country Club of Detroit. Rivard was recently inducted into the Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame in 2019.

 “We are excited to have our community celebrate and honor Jeff and this well-deserved recognition at our Annual Conference in November.” said Jesse Menachem, IAGA president. “He has been a loyal ambassador to our community for decades and his work has left an indelible mark on our industry.”

 The IAGA Distinguished Service Award was established to recognize individuals or groups whose actions have fostered the IAGA objectives as stated in its bylaws: “To promote and conserve the best interests and the true spirit of the game of golf as embodied in its ancient and honorable traditions.” It is the organization’s highest honor. The selection criteria includes the demonstration of superior or innovative administrative abilities, excellence in information exchange and dialogue between golf administrators and golf organizations.