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Grassroots Fundraiser Spotlight: Rob Russell and the Jarman International Charity Golf Cup

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Rob Russell is a university instructor of emotional intelligence, a certified career and life coach, and a longtime TELL volunteer with a passion for golf. Rob recently organized “Golfing for Health,” a fun day out on the course as a fundraiser for TELL.

TELL: What is the Jarman International Charity Golf Cup? RR: Jarman International works with Eastwood Country Club and they have this monthly competition called the Jarman Cup. And after COVID, they’ve started to get creative with it. They’ve started to have a different charity in addition to the regular Mirai no Mori, and they also have a different headline sponsor each month. It’s grown from a monthly event with just a few people. We used to have eight to twelve people.

This month (for TELL) was a record, with 42. It’s the first time to have 11 groups. (Jarman International founder) Ruth Jarman started playing golf due to her activities with Eastwood. She was an absolute beginner. So it’s a bit of a tradition to make it absolutely inclusive–nobody is too bad at golf to play… they work very hard to make sure everybody knows they can join if they want to. It’s very gender- and culturally- and occupationally- and skill-level diverse.

TELL: What is the flow of the day?

RR: They usually start at about 9:30, because the people take the 7:12 Shinkansen from Tokyo, then the club bus from Utsunomiya Station to the country club. You’re divided into teams of four, and everyone plays nine holes before lunch. Then you have lunch–there’s a very nice lunch room with views over the course, with a nice menu, a coffee bar, and a beer machine. (Lunch is included in the day.) After lunch, everyone goes out and plays the second half. Then, there’s a very nice bathhouse where you can go and have a bath or shower. Then there’s an after-party, with some sandwiches, prize giving, and other announcements, before people catch the bus back to the station. So that’s the shape of the day.

TELL: Sounds really fun! What are the benefits of golf, and of this day in particular? RR: So one of the nice things about this event and golf generally, what tends to happen is you will come with a friend, and then you will be put with two additional people into the cart. So you get to spend the day on the golf course with a friend and two people you don’t know that well. And it’s a really good opportunity to meet new people. And it’s great exercise. These days there are more people very interested in golf because it’s such a great way to get people who might not want to go to the gym or run marathons, out and about and taking exercise. Doctors prescribe it now in some places. You can actually get a round of golf on prescription, so it really is super healthy. And one of the mental health benefits is that it brings you into contact with people. Both physically and mentally it’s a really healthy game.

TELL: What brought you to this cause?

RR: Before I was a volunteer, I was actually a caller. I had some issues in my own life. And I found the Lifeline. And it helped me a lot. I did some counseling and when I got back on track and did a postgraduate psychology degree and started to function better, it was really a big deal for me to try and basically be on the other side of the telephone when I was healthy enough to do that. I thought that was really important. And it felt very worthwhile and it was a very obvious kind of connection because I had been the one in the bad position on the other end of the line. So it felt really good for me to be able to kind of give something from the other side. I think that’s where my passion for mental health services comes from. Originally, it was a very personal thing for me. And it just kind of clicked into my mind, that I could combine my growing interest in golf with some kind of fundraising activity. Because I was doing this work with Jarman, and I knew that they had these events, which made it the logical choice for a venue. So it was a fortunate coincidence of different things and a bit of creative thinking and then it came together.

TELL: What advice would you give others who want to make a difference for a cause that’s important to them?

RR: Do the thing that you love, and the thing that you’re good at, base it around that. And then allow yourself to be a bit creative about that. There can be quite a lot of work in organizing and potential frustrations. The way that you can not let that get you down and stay focused on your goal, is to do something that you really feel strongly about and you really like.