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Golf course pioneer gave his industry key educational tools

Gordon Witteveen succumbs at 76

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

NEWMARKET – The golf course industry in North America mourns the death of Gordon Cornelis Witteveen, who recently succumbed to complications arising from chronic leukemia at the age of 76. A recent arrival in Canada, he enrolled in the Ontario Agricultural College (now the University of Guelph), and graduated from a program in horticulture in 1958.

Witteveen first served as superintendent at London Highlands Country Club and moved to Toronto three years later to embark on a 12-year tenure as superintendent at the now defunct Northwood Golf Course. In 1973 he became superintendent at the 36-hole Toronto Board of Trade Country Club, which he soon expanded to 45. An active member with the Ontario Superintendents Association, Witteveen is a co-founder of the Canadian Golf Course Superintendents Association and also served as a director of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and on its historical preservation committee.

A sought-after contributor to industry publications, Witteveen received many awards and accolades for his articles. He also initiated The Greenmaster magazine and served as its editor for five years.

The book Practical Golf Course Maintenance, which he co-authored, is now in its second printing. It serves as a textbook for several college golf course maintenance programs and has been translated into Spanish as well. A seminar based on the book, The Magic of Greenkeeping, has been presented all over North and South America and beyond. He also wrote two books on golf course management history, and compiled family history books as well.


Witteveen also turned his hand to golf course architecture and designed several successful courses still in operation today. Upon retiring from the Board of Trade in 1999, Gordon, with his older brother Harry of Paris, Ontario, of Witteveen Meats, re-opened the dormant 9-hole Pleasant View Golf Course. He had designed it years before and owned/operated it until its sale in 2008.

A world traveler, who visited and played golf courses all over the globe, Gordon often spoke to superintendent groups with presentations together with his friend and colleague, Michael Bavier of Chicago.

In 1995, Witteveen and his then-assistant Corey Jansen became involved in a website, Turfnet, actively participating in a forum dialog, dispensing advice, opinions and experiences. He wrote a column, The Last Word for six years and most recently contributed a blog, "The Way I See It".

Witteveen took great pride in having mentored many young men and women as assistants or employees who have followed in his footsteps in the golf industry, among them over thirty of Canada’s best superintendents.

Gordon Cornelis Witteveen's passing is mourned by his family which includes his spouse of twenty years, Marilyn; his brothers Harry and John, and sister Katherine; his children and step-children, and grandchildren and step-grandchildren.