Bart O’Leary, a man who worked his way through the ranks in the U.S. Army, has done the same with the Jacksonville Area Golf Association and he’s now a bit over halfway through his two-year term as its president.
The 57-year-old O’Leary, a 13-handicapper at the Orange Park Country Club, retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel and, shortly after moving here about 11 years ago, became active in the local association.
“I retired at Fort Benning (Ga.) and going home to New Hampshire really wasn’t an option,” he said. “We had friends who moved to Jacksonville and we decided to give it a try.”
O’Leary, his wife and son moved here and he opened a consulting business. Along the way, he became interested in golf administration and, when a JAGA director at Orange Park changed jobs and didn’t have time for the volunteer effort, O’Leary stepped in.
He became a JAGA director — each of the 50 member clubs has two — in 1992 and soon found himself serving as secretary. From there, he moved to vice president/tournaments, then to VP/administration and now is on the verge of a two-year term as president.
JAGA is an association of area clubs stretching from South Georgia to I-75 and south to Palm Coast. It conducts an annual championship schedule and provides clubs with a monthly opportunity to meet and exchange schedules and ideas. It also has a scholarship fund which presently assists over 30 with their college education by providing $750 per semester.
“I want to see JAGA make an impact,” said O’Leary, and he’s in the middle of a long range planning effort that should have far-reaching implications for the organization.
“There are many areas we can get more involved with. The USGA has a motto: ‘For the good of the game.’ That’s a general statement that we should embrace.”
He has closed his business, saying “I have two more important things.” One is JAGA; the other is the presidency of the the local diocesan council of the St. Vincent De Paul Society.