100th Iowa Women’s Amateur Preview

2024 marks more than just the 100th playing of the Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship. It is also a celebration of the history of women’s golf in Iowa. Over the next 20 weeks leading up to the championship, we will be celebrating the stories and lives of 100 women who have made lasting impacts on the course as well as in their communities. Check in each Wednesday for a new release!

Dating back to its inception in 1922, the Iowa Women’s Amateur has crowned many deserving champions and served as a springboard for numerous current and future, Iowa Golf Hall of Famers. The accomplishments of those whose names fill the Fladoos trophy include three Curtis Cup participants, three Western Women’s Amateur champions, and numerous All-Americans, just to name a few.

Sunnyside Country Club in Waterloo has been a central piece to the history of the Iowa Women’s Amateur. The club was the inaugural host of the championship. The Centennial edition of the event will also mark an unprecedented 10th time that the club has served as host as women from across Iowa again gather to try and etch their name on the Fladoos trophy.

Defending champions often feel at home when teeing it at Sunnyside. Six players claimed their second title in a row (Waterman 1925, Robinson 1933, Estabrooks 1937, Cordingley 1948, Johnstone 1954, and Paulson 2011) at the Waterloo course. While it might be easy to say the venue favors the defending champions, Beth Duenow (1995) and Margaret Addington (1922) have proven that isn’t always the case as the par-72 layout saw each claim their maiden Iowa Women’s Amateur title.

A mix of doglegs, long par fours, and risk-reward par fives give players a chance to showcase their shot-shaping abilities and capitalize on their length. But where the championships are won, and sometimes lost, is on the putting greens. With elevated greens and undulation that trick even the most seasoned veterans, attention to the smallest of details will be required for all players. Though Sunnyside has since changed venues from its home in 1922, the championship presence remains strong from the moment players step on the first tee.

Initially starting in 1922, the Iowa Women’s Golf Association (I.W.G.A.) was formed on August 30th at the Sunnyside Country Club. Two days later, the first Iowa Women’s Amateur champion was crowned as Waterloo’s very own Margaret Addington defeated Mrs. Frank C. Byers of Cedar Rapids 4 & 3. The following year marked the second and final year of the event being invite-only. But the match-play format held strong for the first 32 years of the championship before changing to medal play competition in 1957.

In the eighth year of the championship, Lucile Robinson Mann (pictured right) captured her first Iowa Women’s Amateur title, but it would be far from her last. Dominant in Iowa, especially in the 1930’s, Mann reeled off four straight victories from 1931-1934 with her 1933 title coming at Sunnyside. Though many have tried, her record of four straight victories remains intact. Pursuing the highest level of amateur golf, Lucile’s game traveled and traveled well en route to her capturing the 1933 Women’s Western Amateur over reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion Virginia Van Wie. Just a year later, she became the first Iowa woman to be named to the Curtis Cup Team, the pinnacle of amateur golf for women.

Continuing to add to her Hall of Fame career, she made the team yet again two years later in 1936, but was unable to participate due to her wedding. Seven years after her final Iowa Women’s Amateur title, Mann proved she belonged with the best of the best as she won her second Women’s Western Amateur and lone Trans-Mississippi Women’s Amateur. Mann became the fifth woman inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame when she was enshrined in 1995.

Iowa has long been home to many talented women’s golfers who excel both at the state and national levels. Ann Casey Johnstone wasn’t born a household name but quickly became one after claiming her first Iowa Women’s Amateur in 1941, which would kickstart an impressive two-decade-long run in amateur golf. Ten years following her first victory in the event, Johnstone captured her second state title. The wait for her third wouldn’t take nearly as long as she reeled off four more between 1954 to 1959.

Her record of six Iowa Women’s Amateur titles, which has been matched by just one other player, Corkey Nydle, made her a household name in Iowa. But she was also known across the country after recording a quarterfinal, two semifinals, and a runner-up finish at the U.S. Women’s Amateur between 1956 and 1960. In 1958, she joined the aforementioned Lucile Robinson Mann as Iowans selected to represent the United States on the Curtis Cup team. It would be the first of three call-ups for Johnstone as she was also selected in 1960 and 1962.

Continuing to dive further into the history of the Iowa Women’s Amateur, one will see the name Corkey Nydle (pictured right) time and time again. Nydle’s reach extends beyond her competitive career, one that lasted nearly 50 years, as she was also a board member for the I.W.G.A. for over 30 years. Corkey proved that age is nothing but a number after collecting her first Iowa Women’s Amateur title in 1953 at the young age of 17. She did so again, 19 years later hoisting the trophy at Crow Valley Country Club in Bettendorf. Even more impressive than the gap between her first and last was the fact she claimed five of them in 10 years beginning in 1963. An intricate part of the history of women’s golf in Iowa led to Nydle being a member of the inaugural class of the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame in 1989. Corkey played her 46th and final Iowa Women’s Amateur in 2003, proving once again that age is nothing but a number.

With the shift from match play to stroke play, the door opened for new records to be created each time the championship teed off. No single championship record stands out more than the performance Kristin Paulson put on in 2011 as she captured her second straight title after firing a staggering 14-under par 202. Sunnyside was no match for the soon-to-be senior at Iowa State as she turned the course into a personal playground.Firing at pins and raking in birdie after birdie, Paulson turned in a dazzling nine-under-par 63 in the second round. Her second round saw her jump not only into the lead but into the IGA record books as the lowest single round in championship history.

Now, 2024 marks more than just the 100th playing of this great championship. It is also a celebration of the history of women’s golf in Iowa. Over the next 20 weeks leading up to the championship, we will be celebrating the stories and lives of 100 women who have made lasting impacts on the course as well as in their communities. Check in each Wednesday for a new release.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE IOWA WOMEN’S AMATEUR HOMEPAGE (heck, might as well bookmark it!)

Next week on Women’s Wednesday…

It’s all in the family. Golfers hear and say often that their family got them into the game. Numerous family members and sisters have added their names to the Iowa Women’s Amateur trophy in its 100-year history. But who was the first? We take a look at the sisters who built their careers alongside each other and took sibling rivalry to a whole new level.

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