Par for the Course

By Hannah Wallace September 30, 2007

For Mark Leetzow, district manager of National City Mortgage, par for the course means winning a slew of amateur golf championships. He’s a two-time state amateur champ and six-time city of Sarasota champ, most recently in 2006. He’s also won the Florida State Golf Association mid-amateur championship twice, as well as the FSGA match play championship.

Not bad for a guy who approaches the sport with some levity. “I’m always amazed how hard it is to hit a stationary object,” he says. In fact, since the birth of his son nearly two years ago, Leetzow says he only hits the links every couple of weeks. “It’s much more fun to play with my son than hit a bad golf shot,” he says.

Born and raised in Sarasota, Leetzow first picked up a golf club in elementary school. “Every summer, my mom would drop me off at 8 or 8:30 in the morning at Gator Creek, [the men-only golf club] where my dad was a member, and someone would come back and pick me up at 5 p.m.,” he says.

He played on the golf team at Riverview and earned a golf scholarship to Stetson University, where he got a degree in finance. A pro career beckoned, but only briefly. “I gave it a go for a couple of years,” he says, “but I decided I didn’t want to be 30 and have no career. It’s an extremely expensive proposition to play for a living; it’s not nearly as glamorous as it appears.”

Leetzow worked as a financial advisor for six years at then-Shearson, now Smith Barney, then got into the mortgage business. He’s been with National City Mortgage since February, managing its operations from Manatee County to Punta Gorda, and overseeing a joint venture with Prudential Palms Realty called Americo Mortgage.

For Leetzow, the attraction to golf is primarily the competition. “I grew up in a very competitive household, and it’s a way to scratch that itch,” he says. “It’s a solitary pursuit; a struggle with oneself to control your thought process, your emotions, to enable yourself to play your best. And, of course, you can commune with nature and friends, and experience the weather, good or bad.”

A board member of the Florida State Golf Association, Leetzow’s home course is Bent Tree. His current handicap: plus 1.6.

He turns 40 in December, a milestone most people dread, but “I’m actually excited about it,” he says, “because I become eligible for mid-senior events.”

As for the next generation of doffing Leetzows, “My son has a plastic golf club and he tries to tomahawk any balls in the house,” he says. “We have to work on it, but he’ll learn when and if he wants to.”

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