The Kingsway Golf Tournament at 30: Looking Back at the Early Days with Rob Doig

If you don’t yet know Kingsway Community Director of Dining Services, Rob Doig, you should get to know him. Not only is he in charge of all the food that finds its way to the plates of every resident in Kingsway’s many senior living facilities (a good person to have on your good side!)—he’s also a genuinely good person. “His commitment to our residents, creative and fun menus, and attention to providing homestyle meals with fresh ingredients, along with the way he connects with the residents and families, is central to what makes Kingsway so special,” says Marketing & Public Relations Specialist Sharon Sleicher. President Michael McPartlon, who’s worked with Rob for 28 of Rob’s 41 years at the company, agrees: “When I think of a Mt. Rushmore of long-tenured Kingsway employees that are sort of the bedrock of the organization, Rob would be one of those people that would be on the mountain,” he says. “He’s just part of the fabric of the organization.”

And while Rob has obviously played a huge role in serving Kingsway’s residents over the years, he’s also made a huge impact outside the dining room. In 1992, Rob and his friend, Kingsway’s then-pharmacist Gary Sorenson, both of whom were, and still are, avid golfers, decided to see how many holes of golf they could play on the longest day of the year. The marathon golf day was Gary’s idea, but it was Rob’s idea to get sponsors to pledge a certain amount of money per hole. The funds raised would go to Make-A-Wish of Northeastern NY, per a suggestion from Kingsway’s apartment manager at the time. “We played 100 holes that year and raised a whopping $652,” Rob remembers. The event may not have been a huge moneymaker, but the pair returned the following year to do it again. That year, they got a little more serious, and the golf course, Sycamore Greens, even gave them each a golf cart for the day. “We had like 100 holes by noon, so we just kept going, we ended up with 208 holes at the end of the day,” Rob says. “Channel 6 came out, the newspapers—that’s how we got in the newspaper. Kingsway’s founder, Dr. J. Peter McPartlon, saw us on TV or in the newspaper, and I had my Kingsway Arms hat on. He was saying ‘We have to make this a tournament.’ So that’s how that was born.”

Thirty years later, Kingsway is gearing up for its 30th Annual Golf Tournament, which will be held at Mohawk Golf Club on Monday, June 7. It’ll once again raise funds for Make-A-Wish, as it has every year since Rob and Gary started it. To date, the tournament has generated over $550,000 for the charity, which grants wishes to children diagnosed with critical illness every 34 minutes.

Since kicking off the tournament three decades ago, Rob has taken a backseat to its actual planning. He’s a busy man, you know, making sure Kingsway’s 500-plus residents are well taken care of in the dining room. “We try to give them whatever they want. If someone wants a steak, we try to give them a steak. On their birthday especially, we’ll give them lobster tails, surf and turf—whatever they want.” It’s the residents, in fact, that Rob points to as his favorite part of his job. “When I first came to Kingsway back in 1980, I said “It’s just gonna be a stop,” because I had envisioned working in restaurants” he says. “Then I started talking to the residents. All these residents have made real contributions to our region—engineers, scientists, lawyers, nurses, people with deep roots in the community—so they’ve got a lot of stories to tell.” The same, it seems, can be said about Rob: He too is an important person with an incredible story to tell.