By Martin Cleary
The Ottawa Valley Golf Association Hall of Fame is certainly making up for lost time.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary as the region’s sport governing body within the Quebec Golf Association in June 2021, the OVGA created its first hall of fame to honour players and builders from its illustrious past.
The inaugural class saw the OVGA induct 10 players and four builders, including Greg Olsen, Diane Dolan and the Ottawa Hunt, Rivermead and Royal Ottawa golf clubs.
Eleven months later, five more players and two builders comprised the second group of inductees, featuring Andy Nezan, Bonnie Wolff and John Holzman.
Almost 20 months after its first class of players and builders were revealed, the OVGA Hall of Fame has welcomed players Brad Fritsch, Allen McGee and Susan Pearl as well as builders Kevin and Lisa Haime.
“I think our inaugural year of the OVGA Hall of Fame in 2021 was a great success,” Dru Lafave, the OVGA president and OVGA Hall of Fame co-chair, said in a press release. “It was a wonderful way to celebrate the milestone of our 100th anniversary of organized amateur golf in the Ottawa region.
“Our class of 2023 recognizes two professional players and one amateur player with outstanding careers, as well as two individuals in the builder category, who dedicated significant time and effort over many years supporting competitive amateur golf.
“I have great respect and admiration for golfers who excel in our sport and those who give back to the game.”
Here’s a look at the latest inductees into the OVGA Hall of Fame:
A former member of the Carleton Golf and Yacht Club and the Rideau View Golf Club, Fritsch had many outstanding moments in his amateur and professional careers.
Winning the 1999 Alexander of Tunis championship and tying for third place in the Quebec Amateur helped him qualify for the Quebec Willingdon Cup team and a berth in the Canadian amateur championship. He also won the OVGA City and District men’s class A championship in 2000. For those two years, he was named the golfer of the year at the A.C.T. City of Ottawa Sports Awards Dinner.
Fritsch turned professional in 2000 and three years later qualified for the PGA Tour, where he made the cut 38 times in 71 events, had four top-10 results and earned more than $1.23 million.
Internationally, he won the 2006 Azores Open in Portugal and the 2016 Servientrega championship in Colombia. In 2013, Fritsch and David Ahearn represented Canada at the World Cup competition in Melbourne, Australia, and placed fifth. He also had several top-three results on the Web.com and Canadian tours.
Two years ago, Fritsch and Ottawa’s Kerry Moher created Red Rooster Golf, which produces golf gloves and benefits youth programs.
Playing out of the Kanata Golf and Country Club, McGee was one of the most accomplished amateur golfers in the region during the past quarter century.
The 1990 OVGA junior champion went on to win eight City and District championships (2007-13 and 2015), two Tournament of Club Champions titles as well as five four-ball victories.
In the Flagstick Golf Magazine Shootout, McGee was a four-time champion (2009, 2012-14) and won the Flagstick BMG Cup in 2013 and 2014. He also earned 12 Ottawa Sun Scramble Championship wins and was the 2019 Ottawa Citizen Amateur Golf Championship winner.
McGee was recognized six times at the Ottawa Sports Awards Dinner as the golfer of the year for 2006-10 and 2012).
In 2022, he won the PGA of Ottawa’s assistant pro championship.
As one of the top senior women’s golfers on the Quebec circuit while representing the Rideau View Golf Club, Pearl won the Mid-Amateur championship in 2009 and 2011, the provincial senior title in 2011 and 2014 and the Quebec Players’ Cup in 2011.
She earned a berth on the Quebec senior women’s team for the 2014 Canadian women’s amateur championship. For six years, Pearl was the Quebec senior women’s golfer of the year (2005-07 and 2009-11). Her achievements made her the Ottawa Sports Award Dinner golfer of the year in 2005 and 2011.
Locally, Pearl, a former tennis professional, finished first in the OVGA City and District senior women’s championship in 2006 and 2011, the 2016 Tournament of Club Champions, the inaugural OVGA Women’s Cup in 2019 and the 2005 Ottawa Citizen Amateur Golf Championship.
KEVIN HAIME & LISA HAIME
As instrumental figures in the development of youth golf, the husband-and-wife team of Kevin and Lisa Haime have operated the successful Kevin Haime Junior Golf Initiative.
In its first 12 years, the Haimes along with their sons Jake and Jackson have developed junior golf in the region through a variety of avenues.
Their annual golf initiative has bought more than 700 annual club memberships for kids who needed a place to learn the game. Grants also have been presented to dozens of youth golfers as well as various golf programs and childrens’ charities.
Kevin and Lisa have “provided kids with not only a terrific golf course to improve their skills on, but also to provide them with the respectful and traditional environment that a golf club can provide,” according to the OVGA Hall of Fame press release.
Since turning professional in 1987, Kevin was named the PGA of Canada Teacher of the Year in 2000 and the PGA of Canada Junior Leader of the Year in 2017. The PGA of Ottawa named its Junior Leader of the Year Award after Kevin in 2019.
Kevin also was the Ottawa Zone Teacher of the Year four times (1997, 2000, 2009 and 2020) and received Junior Leader of the Year honours in four other years (2008, 2011, 2015 and 2017).
As a golfer, Kevin was the OVGA City and District medal- and match-play champion in 1986. He remained a champion when he turned pro as the PGA of Ottawa Zone assistants’ winner in 1987 and 1989 along with zone championships in 1987, 1990 and 1996. He also was the zone match-play champion in 2000.
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Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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