When Vancouver-born Stan Leonard passed away at the age of 90 in 2005, a significant chapter of Canadian golf died as well.
For most Canadians, the legacy laid out by Leonard is largely unknown, even to avid participants in the sport in which he excelled. That’s understandable given that he had his greatest success generations ago, but it is a worthy pursuit to pay homage to what be accomplished.
Elected to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 1972, Leonard had been previously honoured in the Sports Hall of Fames for Canada (1964), and his home province, British Columbia, in 1966. He was named to the PGA of Canada Hall of Fame in 2014.
It was deserved recognition for a man who balanced the life of a club professional at Marine Drive Golf Club, with the demands of competing against the best professionals in the world.
Turning pro at the age of 23 in 1938 after early stints as a caddie and amateur champion, Leonard immediately found success on the less than lucrative Canadian circuit, in both Open events and the PGA Championship of Canada. He won the latter eight times between 1940 and 1961 while mixing in 16 titles between the Opens of B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
At an unlikely age of 39, Leonard joined the PGA TOUR, where he would ultimately win three titles. That included the prestigious Tournament of Champions in 1958 and the Western Open in 1960.
Leonard found particular success at The Masters, where he competed 12 times between 1952 and 1965. He earned four top-ten finishes at Augusta National Golf Club, including consecutive ties for fourth place in 1958 and 1959.
Stan represented his country at the Canada Cup (now World Cup) eight times, capturing individual honours in 1959.
After leaving the TOUR, Leonard spend some time as a club pro in California but returned to his home country to win Canadian Senior PGA Championships in 1967, 1972, and 1975.
Those were among more than 40 significant professional titles in his career, in concert with many smaller events.
Leonard passed away in December of 2005. He was awarded the PGA of British Columbia’s Lifetime Award posthumously in 2006.
His playing record remains as one of the greatest in Canadian golf history. The PGA of Canada Class A Professional of the Year Award honours his legacy by being named after him.