80,000 golf balls later, London’s golf community recognizes Walt Cherwaty for his entrepreneurial zest and charitable nature
Photo: Walt Cherwaty
LONDON’S SO-CALLED GODFATHER of Golf Balls — a man who for half a century has been collecting, washing and selling used golf balls from his porch, a godsend to the duffers of the world who would go broke whacking yet another sleeve of pricey new TaylorMades into the pond — is getting some well-earned recognition from the city’s golf community.
Walt Cherwaty, 80, is this year’s recipient of the London Ontario Golf Heart Award, handed out by the online publication London Ontario Sports. Now in its 11th year, the award is given to a member of the Southwestern Ontario golf world who has earned a reputation for giving back to the game.
“I am truly humbled by receiving the Heart Award,” Cherwaty says. “I’ve never taken a dime for collecting and selling golf balls for charity for over 50 years. I retired teaching at age 55, and I have retired from playing golf. But I will continue raising money for charity through golf ball sales.”
“No other game gives back to charity more than golf,” adds London Ontario Sports publisher, Jeffrey Reed. “In Walt’s case, there is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”
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Cherwaty certainly fits the bill for the Heart Award, which recognizes all the non-golf contributions he’s made. (Just being good at golf won’t cut it; PGA pro Mike Weir is also an award winner, but for his work through the Mike Weir Foundation, not his 2003 Masters win.) Since 1971, Cherwaty’s been selling golf balls from his porch on Colborne Street — more than 80,000 of them since 2005 alone.
“Cherwaty’s home — 365 days a year — is a drop-off and pick-up point for local golfers donating and purchasing golf balls,” the announcement reads. “Cherwaty encourages buyers to choose a charity of their choice, and then he donates 100 per cent of the sales to local not-for-profits.”
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Cherwaty’s award recognizes not one large effort, but the many small ways that something as simple as recycled golf balls can touch those in the community. “There are endless stories about Cherwaty’s golf balls,” says Reed. “A bride and groom once purchased 60 dozen to use as wedding guest giveaways, and local golfers have purchased his golf balls and have had them flown to Canadian soldiers overseas, so that they may enjoy the game they love during they toughest of times.
“Walt,” continues Reed, “will forever be known as the Godfather of Golf Balls.” Kieran Delamont