Spittle, four others enter Ontario Golf Hall of Fame


gaoSt. Catharines native Rod Spittle is one of five new members that the Golf Association of Ontario will induct into the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame. The ceremony will take place on May 8 at Wooden Sticks Golf Club.

Also being inducted are Ian Leggatt, Gord Witteveen, and Alexa Stirling Fraser, who become the 61st, 62nd, 63rd and 64th members of the Hall, while Jack Marks will posthumously receive the Lorne Rubenstein Media Award, which honours members of the media who have made significant contributions to golf in Ontario.

The St. Catharines-born Spittle is a competitive standout who made his mark on the Champions Tour by capturing the AT&T Championship in October 2010. Growing up in Chippewa (near St. Catharines), Spittle’s father and 24 other avid local players bought a farm and created Willo-Dell Golf Course (now Willodell Golf Club of Niagara) in 1964 which became the young Spittle’s second home.

He captured the club championship there three times in the 1970s, before he and his father teamed up to win the Ontario Father and Son championship in 1974 and 1975. After strong finishes at the Ontario Amateur and Canadian Junior, his big break on the amateur stage came in 1977, when he captured the Canadian Amateur Championship title, a feat he repeated in 1978. Spittle accepted a full scholarship to Ohio State University in 1975 when he co-captained the varsity golf team and won the Big Ten Championship. After graduation, Spittle sold insurance in Columbus, Ohio while playing at the local and state level, earning two Columbus District Amateur (1989, 1997) and three Mid-Amateur (1994, 1995, 1997) titles.

At age 45, with a renewed focus on the game, Spittle captured the Ohio Mid-Amateur championship in 2000 and 2001, and again in 2003. In 2004, Spittle left his insurance career to turn professional, embarking on a stretch of competitive golf on playing on mini-tours, Q-school and Monday qualifiers, joining the Champions Tour in 2005. In 2007, he was invited to several events including the Senior British Open, with his best finish in his first four professional years coming at the 2007 Greater Hickory Classic where he finished in a tie for second.

In 2010, he Monday-qualified into the AT&T Championship, and won the event in a one-hole sudden-death playoff over Jeff Sluman. Spittle is continuing his professional career on the Champions Tour, earning two top-ten finishes in 2012.

Leggatt is one of Canada’s best known professional golfers and is a winner on both the PGA Tour and Nationwide (now Web.com) Tour. Born in Cambridge, Ontario, Leggatt established himself early on as an athlete, capturing several provincial and national titles in speed skating in the winter months while spending his summers playing golf.

Leggatt became a member at Puslinch Lake Golf Club at age seven before moving on to Galt Country Club where he captured the club championship three times as well as the Ontario Men’s Match Play title in 1988. He accepted a golf scholarship to Texas Wesleyan University, graduating in 1990 with a degree in Sports Management and was twice named All-American before making the jump to the professional ranks in 1991. Throughout the 1990s, Leggatt played the Canadian, South African, South American, Asian and Australian Professional Golf Tour. He was a rookie member of the Buy.Com Tour in 2000 finishing fifth, and he won the Buy.Com Dayton Open as a PGA Tour rookie in 2001.

In 2002, he won the Touchstone Energy Tucson Open and tied for 18th at the Bell Canadian Open. Leggatt represented Canada four times at the World Cup Golf Championship, and was named Canadian Golfer of the Year in 2002. He played as an exempt player on the PGA Tour until 2008 and retired from the game due to injuries in 2009. Following his retirement, Leggatt joined Wasserman Media Group as Executive VP of Golf before being named Director of Golf for Summit Golf and Country Club in August 2012.

Leggatt is also a former global ambassador for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) and his Ian Leggatt and Friends Charity Golf Classic has raised more than $2 million dollars for RMHC.

Witteveen, a career superintendent with over a half-century of service at golf clubs across Ontario and Quebec, was the Founding Director of the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association (CGSA) and a renowned golf writer, author, featured speaker and educator. Born in the Netherlands, he immigrated to Canada in 1954 at age 20 and attended the Ontario Agricultural College (now the University of Guelph) where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in science. After assuming the role of superintendent at Noranda Mines Golf Club in Quebec between 1956 and 1957, Witteveen became the superintendent at London Highland Country Club upon graduation from college in 1958.

Three years later, he moved to Toronto to assume the superintendent role at Northwood Golf Course, a position Witteveen held for 12 years. During this period, he became active with the Ontario Golf Superintendents Association (OGSA) and helped found the Canadian association serving on the CGSA’s board of directors between 1966 and 1972, and also serving as its president in 1970.

From 1973 to 1999, Witteveen served as superintendent of the Board of Trade Country Club in Woodbridge, Ont., expanding the facility to 45 holes during his tenure. Upon his retirement from Board of Trade after 36 years of service, Witteveen owned and operated Pleasant View Golf Club, a nine-hole course near Brantford, until its sale in 2008.

A frequent contributor to industry publications, including Ontario Golf News, TurfNet Monthly and Golf Course Management, Witteveen was also the founding editor of the CGSA’s GreenMaster magazine and later a featured columnist. He is the namesake of the Gord Witteveen Award for outstanding writing by a superintendent for publication in GreenMaster magazine, and received the Leo Fesser Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) for the best superintendent-written article in Golf Course Management magazine in 1983. During the course of his career, Witteveen authored several books, including A Century of Greenkeeping in 2001 and Keeping the Green in Canada in 2008.

He was recognized by the CGSA as Superintendent of the Year in 1983 and earned the CGSA’s John B. Steel Distinguished Service Award in 1999, before earning similar honors from the GCSAA and the OGSA in 2004 and 2007 respectively. Witteeveen passed away in 2010, and has been posthumously elected to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.

Stirling Fraser was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1897, and began golfing at a young age at the Atlanta Athletic Club’s East Lake Golf Club, earning her first club title at age 12. A close friend of Bobby Jones, she was dubbed “The Empress of Golf” to compliment Jones’ “Emperor” nickname. She earned her first U.S. Ladies’ Amateur Championship title in 1916 at age 19, and with no national championship contested in 1917 and 1918 due to World War 1, she became one of the famous “Dixie Kids,” a group of young southern golfers who travelled the U.S. giving golf exhibitions to raise more than $50,000 for the Red Cross.

After the war, she won two more U.S. Ladies’ Amateur titles in 1919 and 1920, and her first Canadian Ladies’ Amateur title in 1920. While attending the 1921 Canadian Ladies’ Open where she finished as runner-up, she met Canadian doctor Wilbur Grieve Fraser, and they were married in 1925. Stirling Fraser relocated to Ottawa, where she became an honourary member of the Royal Ottawa Golf Club and won it’s ladies’ club championship nine times. She also earned her second Canadian title in 1934, and a runner-up finish in 1925. Stirling Fraser maintained her interest in golf throughout her life, and passed away in 1977. She has been inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.

Jack Marks

The Lorne Rubenstein Media Award is set to be presented to sportswriter Jack Marks in 2013. This award honours members of the media that have made outstanding contributions to the game of golf in Ontario.

Born and raised in Toronto until he was 14, Marks began his writing career at the Timmins Daily Press in 1937 as a junior reporter. Passionate about sports and an active athlete, Marks continued to submit articles to the sports department before being posted there as a sportswriter in 1939.

His writing skills propelled him to the position of managing editor of the Daily Press in 1940, but he soon decided to join the Royal Canadian Air Force and was posted to London, England. Following World War II, Marks moved to Toronto where he became a sports writer with both the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. Over his career, Marks served as president of both the Ontario Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association and the Toronto Press Club.

An avid golfer, Marks pursued his love of golf writing by becoming editor and part-owner of Tee-Off magazine, which later became Ontario Golf News. Well known for his sense of humour and love for the game of golf, he continued playing until he was 80, and passed away in 2001.

The Ontario Golf Hall of Fame is dedicated to the recognition of extraordinary contributions and accomplishments in the game of golf in Ontario. Founded in the year 2000 by the Ontario Golf Association and the Ontario Ladies’ Golf Association, the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame is housed at Wooden Sticks Golf Club in Uxbridge and is maintained by the Golf Association of Ontario.