Giving back: Former superintendent collecting golf balls for good causes

Charlie Denison

Conrad Robertson stands by thousands of golf balls in his garage recently. Robertson gives most of the balls away to schools throughout the state.

Photo courtesy of Conrad Robertson

What would you do with 72,000 golf balls?

That’s a legitimate question for former Lewistown Schools Superintendent Conrad Robertson, as that’s his situation.

And he has a good answer: give them away.

He won’t just give them away to anybody, though. Instead, Robertson gives them as a way of giving back to the schools and the communities all around Montana.

“It really all started at this one course out in Washington with blackberries lining two holes,” he said. “No one would really want to get their balls because they would just get shredded by the blackberries. I knew there had to be balls there.”

When Robertson started collecting, he couldn’t stop.

“It was a great stress reliever,” he said. “I found it really relaxing after a long day of administrative duties.”

Then it became a challenge. He started thinking, “How many can I find?”

“By the time I retired as superintendent in Washington, I had 33,000 golf balls in the garage,” he said. “My wife said, ‘you’ve got to do something about this.’”

So he did.

“I gave 2,000 to our high school in Washington, and when I got back to Lewistown I gave 1,000 to Fergus. Then I gave another 1,000 to my hometown school in Roundup. I continued to give balls away to schools,” he said.

In the last two weeks Robertson has given away 4,000 more balls.

“On my way to Missoula for the Grizzlies game last week, I gave Conrad, Shelby and Cut Bank 1,000 balls. I also gave some to Forsyth recently,” Robertson said. “I’m doing this to help schools out. Every one of them has budget issues, so I figure they can use these for their golf teams, physical education programs or whatever.”

Robertson will continue to give just as he will continue to collect. He’s not stopping at 72,000. His goal is 100,000.

“I’ll go back to Washington and go to that same course, where I’ll find anywhere from 6,000 to 7,500 golf balls at two holes,” he said. “Then I’ll get back, go to Judith Shadows Golf Course and use their ball cleaner, then go to Albertson’s and get freezer bags and fill them up with about 50 balls per bag. By the time they are donated, they are in perfect condition.”

Occasionally Robertson will even sell balls. Any money he gets from them goes directly into his grandchildren’s college fund.

But, really, Robertson doesn’t do this for any financial gain; he does this to give back to the community and school district he loves.

“I truly believe in public education,” he said, “and funding is tough. I was a superintendent for 32 years and I made budget cuts 29 years. That’s the reality, so this is a way of helping, and I enjoy doing it.”

Robertson said he even enjoys people giving him a hard time about it, which is easy to do, considering his website and business card call this endeavor “My Old Balls.”

“My son actually named it,” Robertson said, shaking his head.

In all seriousness, however, Robertson said he’s glad he can offer these golf balls to schools here and nearby as a way of saying “thanks” to the Lewistown community and the countless people who give back in many ways.

“My wife and I always knew we’d come back here when I retired,” he said. “There is such a history of giving.”






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