When Allen Forrest found out he was receiving a national golfing award, the first thing he did was make sure wife Marilyn was going to be there with him.
"We've been married for nearly 50 years. When she said, 'I do', she didn't really know what she was in for," says Forrest who received the Holden Volunteer of the Year Award in Christchurch during round three of the 99th ISPS Handa New Zealand Open at the Millbrook Resort last Saturday night.
"She's certainly been behind me — my secretary, my administrator — so she's always been behind the scenes so it's not just me, no," says the 71-year-old Porangahau livestock farmer.
Forrest casts his mind back to the days when she washed clothes of players after big provincial and national tourneys.
"So it was quite nice that she came down to see the presentation," he says, sharing the accolades with Marilyn.
The Porangahau and Waipukurau GC member feels there are countless volunteers in the Bay and without their input the code will struggle.
"I got this award so, thanks, it is very significant for Hawke's Bay, but it's for all of us. It was a great thrill to get the award."
Known in not just the golfing circles but sporting circles as "Forrie", the current president of Golf Hawke's Bay has had a stellar service at myriad levels for the past 30 years.
But the bloke with an infectious smile emphasises volunteers don't roll their sleeves up to bask in the glow of awards although he is immensely proud to be a recipient and humbled by it.
Several days before he had received an invitation, he had thought it was to do with matters pertaining to Golf HB. However, a phone call to a Golf New Zealand staff member revealed he had won the award and they wanted him there to receive it.
"I got such a surprise that I had to ring her back to see what I had actually won," he says with a laugh.
Not able to reveal it to the public, Forrest shared his muted joy with nuclear family members and a few close friends.
"The phones have been quite busy and I've been receiving emails of congratulations since it has been publicised," he says after receiving a plaque and a framed certificate.
His involvement with sport began during his formative years of playing senior rugby.
"I was a halfback and that's where I got my nickname, Forrie, because it was easier for the first five to say than Allen, I suppose."
The Porangahau club member, who also represented Central Hawke's Bay, fondly recalls coaching former All Black Norm Hewitt, the primary schoolboy who was a junior club member who went to play for CHB as well the Magpies and whose parents were publicans in Porangahau.
That passion and desire to give something back to the community saw Forrest serve on the rugby board as treasurer and on the committee for almost two decades.
With retirement looming as a rugby player, he started helping administrators.
"Then my wife started playing golf and I got into golf," he says of the time when he was in his late 30s.
That passion lured Forrest into caddying for the senior Bay men's amateurs at the annual interprovincials, culminating in the highlight of caddying for Perry Simpson, of Ongaonga, for five years during his two decades of involvement with Bay senior men to the marquee national teams' matchplay tourney.
"I then got talked into becoming a selector and ended up doing it for Hawke's Bay for 10 years but then decided it was time to get out of that."
But the hawk-eyed Bay golfing movers and shakers weren't about to let him walk away that easily.
He was ushered into assuming the mantle of vice-president of Golf HB and has been in the president's hot seat for two years.
"I will attend the AGM and this will be my last term," he says before a pregnant pause. "I never like staying in a job too long."
He reveals Marilyn thinks he's done enough and should step down.
Forrest adheres to the edict that after a few years people should move on to enable someone else with a fresher and different outlook to take an organisation forward.
An Eagles Society of Hawke's Bay member, Forrest often found himself following in the path of good friend David Howie who was adorned national president of the society last month when fellow Bay administrator Jeremy Ballantyne also was anointed his national secretary.
"We actually swapped jobs at one stage when he became manager of Hawke's Bay senior men's team and I became president. David was a very good administrator and I've been very lucky to see how he works," says Forrest who also was president of Bay Eagles Society for two years.
Nothing satisfies him more than watching juniors make headway although he laughs when revealing he is known to help out in the kitchen as well after exhausted players return from competitions.
"It always brings me a little out of my comfort zone because I'm not a very good speaker," he says, delighted with the society's efforts to help juniors in the province.
Peter Scott, a society administrator and Karamu Golf Club member, used to count the number of times Forrest said "uum" during his speech, he recalls amusingly.
Forrest also is a handy social golfer himself, whittling his handicap down to eight once.
"I've always been a fairly good match player because I've always concentrated better under pressure."
For someone who started ploughing and dutifully replacing his divots on the man-made Gardens of Eden relatively late in his life in his twilight rugby years, Forrest went on to represent CHB rugby for a few years.
Another remarkable trait of the swiss knife of Bay amateur golf was to maintain a serene demeanour regardless of how much tension there was in the air, on or off the golf course.
A grinning Forrest shrugs his shoulders to say he doesn't know where it comes from before suspecting it has probably to do with his time as a shearer when a clear mind and steady hand were required in handling clippers.
"I used to talk to a few guys who were shearers so it was just part of my nature."
At the award, he and Marilyn had booked an extra night at the hotel to watch the final round of the NZ Open before jetting back on Monday.
Forrest was over the moon to have met players who he had been involved with as amateurs over the years, including Kiwi professionals Pieter Zwart, of CHB, Daniel Pearce, of Hastings, and Ryan Fox, of Auckland, who was a regular visitor to the Bay to receive mentoring from Hastings PGA professional Brian Doyle.
Fox received the men's player of the year award and his coach, Marcus Wheelhouse, was named the coach of the year among the 10 gongs handed out that night.
NZ GOLF AWARD WINNERS
Disabled Golfer of the Year: Wayne Eder (Waimairi Beach GC)
GMANZ Administrator of the Year: Sue Falconer (Lakeview Golf & Country Club)
Holden Volunteer of the Year: Allen Forrest (Porangahau & Waipukurau GC)
Holden Club of the Year: Motueka Golf Club (Tasman district)
PGANZ Professional Coach of the Year: Marcus Wheelhouse
Jennian Homes Amateur Golfer of the Year Male: Nick Voke (Windross Farm)
Jennian Homes Amateur Golfer of the Year Female: Julianne Alvarez (Manor Park)
Professional Player of the Year Male: Ryan Fox (Royal Auckland and Grange GC)
Professional Player of the Year Female: Lydia Ko (Pupuke GC)
GMANZ Manager of the Year: Chris Davies (Remuera GC)
Community Coach of the Year: Grant Boyd (Otago district)