‘Poor Putting’ Doesn’t Keep Jackie Little Out Of PNGA Hall Of Fame
Jackie Little Will Be Enshrined In The PNGA Hall Of Fame On April 28th - Image Credits British Columbia Golf/PNGA
By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf
Jackie Little is one of British Columbia’s most accomplished amateur golfers, but she hasn’t yet quite convinced her young granddaughter of her playing prowess.
Last June, Little placed second at the B.C. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Kelowna Golf & Country Club. Her five-year-old granddaughter Myelle was there to watch Little complete her round. As she walked off the 18th green, Myelle asked her grandmother if she had won.
“She said, ‘Granny, did you win,’” Little recalls with a chuckle. “And I said, ‘no, Granny didn’t win today, Granny didn’t putt very well.’ Ever since then, any time we ask her about my golf she goes, ‘oh Granny, it’s too bad you can’t putt.’
“So I'm going to have to win another championship to prove to her that I can putt.”
Everyone but Myelle knows Little can putt. The diminutive Little -- who stands less than five-feet tall -- doesn’t have what you would call a power game. She has relied on an impeccable short game to record an amateur record few have matched, one that will see her inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Association Hall of Fame on April 28.
Little’s remarkable resume includes five B.C. Women’s Amateur titles, five B.C. Senior Women’s Championships, three B.C. Mid-Amateur Championships and three Canadian national titles. She also won two Alberta Women’s Amateur titles, two Alberta Junior Girls championships and three Alberta Senior Women’s crowns.
So, yes, Myelle, your Granny can putt.
Little, who is 59, jokes that going into another hall of fame -- she was welcomed into the British Columbia Golf Hall of Fame in 2009 -- has her feeling old. “I am getting up there that’s for sure,” she says. “But it is very nice to be recognized.”
Little says she still has that competitive fire that has served her so well over the years and hopes she has more wins in her. But she acknowledges she doesn’t take the losses, like last summer’s defeat to Vancouver’s Holly Horwood, as hard any more.
“I think I have a few years to go,” she says of her competitive career. “But I am winding it down. You are still competitive, but it’s not as competitive. I don’t want to say I am enjoying it more now because I still do love the competition, but it’s not quite as intense.”
Little is one of five being inducted into the PNGA Hall of Fame. The others are Mike Davis of Portland, Ore., Ruth Jessen of Seattle, Les Blakley of Spokane and Roger Wallace of Polson, Mont.
Her Hall of Fame induction is not the only big news of late for Little. She and her husband Pat, a former club pro, recently sold The Hollies Golf Course they had owned in Port Alberni for 14 years. They have moved to the tiny community of Procter, B.C., on Kootenay Lake.
Why Procter? “Kids and grandkids,” says Little, whose son Robert and daughter Janine both live in the area.
Little says she and Pat loved their time in Port Alberni, but are looking forward to the next phase of their lives. They have recently joined Balfour Golf Course.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Little says of their time in Port Alberni. “Truthfully, I never really wanted to be in the golf business, I always wanted golf to be my hobby. But working at it with Pat was a lot of fun. It was something we were doing together on a regular basis.
“Pat said every golf pro should own their own place and be able to do everything on it. So he did that, he basically was a superintendent and pro. It was a lot of fun, but it was a lot of work.”
Little, who grew up in Edmonton, credits her parents with getting her interested in golf. “We belonged to Glendale, which was a family club so I spent most of the time at the swimming pool and then when I was around 10 or 11, I got a little bit interested in golf.
“But I didn’t have anyone to play with so my dad basically gave up a lot of his playing with his friends and took me under his wing and played a lot with me.”
Her first real golf instructor was a young pro named Pat Little, who she later married. They moved to Vernon, where Pat served as head pro of Vernon Golf Club for many years. Her parents also made the move to Vernon.
“I am an only child so I think their world revolved around me. They were able to do a lot of looking after the kids or coming with me to tournaments and looking after the kids while I played. They were a big part of my life in golf.”
Of her many wins, Little says two stand out. In 1991 she captured her first B.C. Women’s Amateur title at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in Vancouver. That was the year Vancouver was playing host to the World Amateur Team Championship.
“New Zealand had sent over their team to do some practising and entered our B.C. championship,” Little says. “So I basically went head-to-head with them and it was a great experience. I had my son caddying for me and we went into a playoff and my daughter gave me a little memento at the first tee and said, ‘you are going to win.’
The other win that stands out for Little is her first Alberta Women’s Amateur victory way back in 1978. “I was going head-to-head with Betty Cole, who was an icon in Alberta golf, and we basically went right down to the last hole and I had to sink a six-footer to beat her,” Little says.
Little will attempt to win her sixth B.C. Senior Women’s title in June at Sunshine Coast Golf & Country Club near Sechelt.
And wouldn’t it be nice if Myelle was sitting greenside to see her Granny sink a long putt for the win.