Meet Ron Dettmann and the stars of the Red Cross golf tournament

Ron Dettmann, in his element, in 2019

By Gordon Williams 

What could be nicer than spending a summery day on a golf course in scenic Northwest Washington?                 

What about spending a summery day on a golf course in scenic Northwest Washington while raising money to support the humanitarian mission of the American Red Cross?

That is exactly what the 27th annual Red Cross Golf Tournament in Bellingham WA is meant to accomplish. Date for this year’s event is August 27th at the Shuksan Golf Club in Bellingham.  

There was no tournament in 2020 because of the covid-19 pandemic, but Karen Miller, Regional Philanthropy Officer for the Red Cross Northwest Region, says the last time the event was held it raised $114,000. “Our goal this year is to raise $120,000,” Miller says. The money mostly comes from local businesses that sponsor teams to take part in the tournament. 

Events like Red Cross golf tournaments don’t just “happen”. They take lots of planning and plain hard work. For example, it will take the combined efforts of 20 or more Red Cross volunteers to make the day a success. To hit that $120,000 goal, Miller and her fundraising colleagues must sign up 30 corporate sponsors.  

Most of all, it takes an experienced and committed tournament director to pull all the pieces together. This year’s tournament director is Red Cross volunteer Ron Dettmann, who most certainly fits the bill, being both experienced and committed. He has been deeply involved with the tournament ever since he first moved to the area and became a Red Cross volunteer six years ago. 

The setting for the Red Cross tournament — the Shuksan Golf Club — could hardly be better. The course itself is set amid gently rolling hills. One review of Shuksan that appears on the Trip Advisor website calls the course “fantastic.” Another calls it “must-try.” The views of Mt. Baker from the course are said to be “spectacular.” 

Of course, nothing planned for this pandemic year is without its challenges.  

No one can say for certain what Covid-19 restrictions will be in place on tournament day. More events are opening up, but some parts of the United States are still seeing a surge in new cases. The pandemic has skewed the business operations and finances of some of the world’s biggest companies. Companies that in years past would have long ago committed to being a tournament sponsor are pausing this year to think things over.   

Miller says that “most of our sponsors are continuing to renew.” And she does expect to have all 30 sponsors — mostly local businesses — signed up by August 27. Still, signing up sponsors amid so much economic uncertainty has not been easy.  

Dettmann says that details of the golfing side of the event are falling nicely into place. Then again, while he has helped the Red Cross in many other ways, Dettmann is pretty expert at anything having to do with golf. Dettmann says he played his first round of golf when he was 13. Asked how well he makes it around the course today, he says, “I shoot in the upper 70s to lower 80s.” 

He grew up near Chicago, spent many years working for the phone company there and spent a lot of his spare time on golf courses. “I have always worked in golf,” he says. “I ran golf tournaments in Chicago, including some professional tournaments.” He plays when he can, and does part time work for golf courses in the Bellingham area. 

Dettmann moved West from Chicago after he retired. “Our daughter moved to Washington, and we said we will follow you,” he explains. He became a Red Cross volunteer six years ago — doing disaster response, helping install smoke alarms as part of the Home Fire campaign — and doing the heavy lifting for the golf tournament. 

The event can handle a maximum of 144 golfers, and there are more ways to take part then just driving a golf ball. “There will be putting contests and a big raffle,” Dettmann says.  

If you are interested in becoming an event sponsor, contact Karen Miller at karen.miller@redcross.org.

If you’d like to join other Red Cross volunteers staging the event, contact Kelly Hill, who handles both volunteers and logistics. You can reach her at kelly.hill3@redcross.org

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