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Wednesday, November 30, 2022
NOTL golf pros raise over $7,000 for men’s health



Run through snowstorm caps phenomenal Movember fundraiser


It started as a simple challenge to help raise money for men's health and ended in the snow and rain Tuesday morning in the middle of the first winter storm of the season.

And it was a runaway success.

Niagara-on-the-Lake golf pros Ricky Watson and Billy Simkin, and club champion James Grigjanis-Meusel, a greenskeeper at the NOTL club, sloshed their way through the sleet as they ran from the Floral Clock high up in Queenston all the way to Old Town.

Their 18-kilometre journey, which finished with a lap of the nine-hole lakeside golf course, raised more than $7,000 for the Movember campaign for men’s health.

“Our goal was $2,000 and to get over $7,000 is incredible,” Watson said after the run. As of Wednesday afternoon, the total stood at $7,150.

“The support from our community and club members has been overwhelming. The members and community deserve so much recognition and credit for this.”

The fundraiser came about after the PGA of Ontario encouraged golf pros across the province to take part in a collective team fundraising effort, Simkin told The Lake Report.

“While sitting in our office, I said to Ricky, ‘If you grow the moustache, I will run five yards for every dollar raised,’ ” Simkin said.

Watson immediately said he would run, too – and the race was on.

But why five yards? “Basically, we figured raising $1,000 would equate to us doing two laps of the course, so that was our goal.”

They quickly learned how supportive the club’s members and the community are – and the goal doubled to $2,000.

“As donations started piling in, Ricky and I realized that this was more than some ‘fun run’ and began our training,” Simkin said.

“We only had one month to prepare so it was pretty tough, but we got there.”

Watson said he ran about 120 kilometres this past month to get ready.

Movember, a campaign held every November, encourages men to grow a moustache and raise money for men’s health, including mental health, prostate and testicular cancer.

“Knowing many people, including NOTL Golf Club members who have had prostate cancer made this a great charity,” said Watson.

On Tuesday, with heavy snow mixed with rain, the run was set for the Floral Clock around 8:30 a.m.

“Being a bit older, I started at 7:45,” Simkin said. Watson and Grigjanis-Meusel thought they’d catch him en route but they never did, hitting the finish line a few minutes apart.

Simkin covered the route along the Niagara Parkway in two hours 16 minutes while the other two finished in one hour 47 minutes.

The lanky Grigjanis-Meusel, an avid runner and biker, got recruited to the team only a couple of weeks ago when Watson joked that they should run together. Afterward, Grigjanis-Meusel said he felt great and marvelled, “My socks are completely dry.”

While their shoes and clothes were soaked Watson said golf club member Paul Battaglia, who has completed gruelling Ironman competitions, gave them a valuable tip: wear a plastic bag over your socks inside your shoes to keep your feet dry.

“That was a lifesaver. The conditions were terrible,” Watson said.

“The majority of the run was wet and into the wind with snow blowing into us, but we ran at a comfortable pace and had minimal issues,” he said.

“The toughest part of the run was the nine-hole lap on the course as the snow was extremely wet on the grass.”

They were not the only ones out on the Parkway during their trek. St. Davids resident Dow Wright, a club member, walked the entire distance and Maureen Dickson, Tina Stewart and Ria Rosenberg drove along, checking on the runners and offering them water, Watson said.

The participating members of the PGA of Ontario raised about $11,000 in total, but $7,000 of that was by the NOTL team.

“The next closest fundraiser to us was around $1,200,” Simkin said. “We lapped everyone.”

“I feel really good about what Ricky and I accomplished. This puts us on the map as a club, as a town and as professionals,” he said.

“My legs truly hurt, but that will go away. The fact we did this in such a short time is a memory that will last forever.”

Fundraising is still open and if people wish to donate just search for Watson’s account at