Denfeld News

May 12, 2012
Duluth News Tribune

Affable Twin Ports golf pro dies at 59
By Kevin Pates

A stellar athlete who became one of the better-known golf figures in Northeastern Minnesota was remembered Friday for the compassion and dignity displayed in 20 years as a golf course manager.

Steve Anderson of Duluth died Friday afternoon at St. Luke’s hospital after suffering a stroke Tuesday at home. He was 59.

Anderson had been a golf course manager and teaching professional at Cloquet Country Club, Lakeview National Golf Course in Two Harbors and Duluth’s Enger Park Golf Course before spending the past three years at Duluth’s Ridgeview Country Club.

He was a three-sport letter winner at Duluth Denfeld High School in the Class of 1971, playing football, hockey and baseball, and was an NAIA hockey All-American at Wisconsin-Superior as a senior captain in 1975-76.

“Steve treated everyone like royalty, a great people person, who made you feel comfortable,” said Nemadji Golf Course professional Mark Carlson, a high school classmate. “He was a great host, a great teacher of the game and loved taking care of people.

“He was one of the most talented athletes I’ve known, one of the top multisport athletes to come out of Denfeld. In hockey, no one hit harder. He was tough.”

The affable Anderson was noted for his gentlemanly demeanor in working with club members and employees, and for his promotion of youth golf leagues.

Brother-in-law Mike Hill of Duluth likened him to the late Henry Jensen, a longtime manager and professional at Enger Park Golf Course.

“One of Steve’s mottos was that life is about the journey, and he’ll be remembered by so many people that he touched on his journey,” said Hill. “He was respected and loved, and epitomized what it means to be good at your job and humble at the same time.”

As a Denfeld senior in 1970-71, he was an All-Lake Superior Conference football halfback, scored 15 goals as a hockey left winger and hit over .400 in baseball as a shortstop and pitcher. He played three hockey seasons for UWS, recording 78 points in 58 games, culminating in a 4-3 win over Bemidji State in the 1976 NAIA title game at Wessman Arena. He led the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in hitting during the 1975 and 1976 baseball seasons, and was named the school’s outstanding athlete in 1976. He was captain of the hockey, baseball and golf teams.

Anderson coached the UWS hockey team the next season, in 1976-77, and was inducted into the UWS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004. He had other hockey coaching stops including Superior High School and Duluth Marshall, and Minnesota Duluth, as an assistant.

“Steve’s nickname was ‘The Rock’ and it fit him,” said Gary Fritch, a senior at Duluth Central in 1972, and a hockey teammate of Anderson at UWS. “He was an incredible athlete; a natural-born leader. I think he was a captain on every team he played and that alone speaks volumes.”

Anderson had a brief stint as a UMD assistant, under coach Gus Hendrickson, in 1980-81. Mike Sertich, also an assistant at the time, said he especially remembers Anderson for two things.

“He had an effervescent smile and a tremendously strong handshake,” said Sertich, now retired. “As an athlete he personified intensity and as a coach he had a way of making the players feel special.”

Anderson became a golf professional in 1993 and spent nearly 10 years at Cloquet Country Club before moving on to other courses. This was the first year he was listed as general manager and golf director at Ridgeview Country Club, taking charge of golf and social management, while his son, Aaron, has become golf pro and superintendent.

“Steve would light up a room wherever he was. He had that kind of wonderful personality,” said Jud Crist of Duluth, the superintendent and manager at Enger Park and Lester Park Golf Course, and worked for Anderson in Cloquet and at Enger Park. “He was so generous with his time and especially looked out for the future of the game. He really enjoyed helping the younger players.”

A note of Anderson’s passing was posted on the Ridgeview Country website Friday:

“No one has made a more positive impact on Ridgeview Country Club and the many people he touched. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Anderson is survived by his wife of 36 years, Nancy, and daughters, Jennifer and Julie, and son, Aaron, and brother, Rick Miller. Services are pending.

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