2018 IGA Annual Awards announced

On Friday, October 26, the IGA Board of Directors named recipients of the 2018 Annual Awards in six categories. We are pleased to announce this year’s honorees.

9-Hole Superintendent – Chris Steffen, Tipton Golf & Country Club
Chris Steffen, of Tipton Golf & Country Club, has been named the 2018 IGA 9-Hole Superintendent of the Year.

Steffen, who became Superintendent at Tipton G&CC in 2006, grew up on the course. Without question it, along with the community, has always held a special place in his heart. Steffen has always put much attention to detail and thought into subtle ways he could improve the course.

Faced with a challenging year weather-wise in 2018, Steffen is credited by membership of keeping the course and its playing surface in great shape. In addition to his daily duties as superintendent, Steffen, for the past five years, has helped organize and run a junior golf program at the club. This program has been a huge success, growing every year. In 2018, a total of 66 junior golfers took part in the program.

“Chris wants golf to grow at Tipton Golf & Country Club,” one nomination read. “He wanted to do his part in getting kids interested in the game. In addition to that, he is single-handedly responsible for raising $150,000 (over the past three years) for the new clubhouse fund. None of this would be happening without Chris’ passion for his community and his club.”


18-Hole Superintendent – Dean Sparks, Davenport Country Club
Dean Sparks, of Davenport Country Club, is the 2018 IGA 18-Hole Superintendent of the Year.

Sparks, who began his duties at Davenport CC in March of 2014, recently oversaw and executed a renovation of the golf course, which included the removal of over 500 trees. His ability to communicate and educate members throughout the process was noted many times in his letters of recommendation. It was noted that his communication to the membership has been and will continue to be of significance as they move forward.

From the beginning of the renovations at DCC, Sparks indicated it would be a process of focusing first on issues with larger playability and visual impact, then addressing the smaller but often labor-intensive details the membership expected. Once the larger challenges were met, the detail work would become part of the ongoing routine.

Sparks’ ability to manage the transition from the course renovation to on-going operations has been applauded. One member commented that it was during that process that Sparks has shown his management and professional skills beyond those of a project manager. Another DCC member commented that “Sparks was able to achieve the massive course renovation in an unheard of time frame. It was completed on budget due to his ability to organize and delegate the duties efficiently”.

“Many skeptics have been converted to believers since the (2015) full course renovation due to Dean’s ability to educate the membership, me included,” Tim Smith, DCC Greens and Ground Chairman said.


9-Hole Course of the Year – Tara Hills Country Club (Van Horne)
The IGA 9-Hole Course of the Year in 2018 is Tara Hills Country Club in Van Horne.

Tara Hills Country Club, located in eastern Iowa, is nestled into 60 acres of what used to be farmland. The course annually draws praise and rave reviews for its quality and consistency, especially its green surfaces. In addition to its condition, Tara Hills CC conducts a strong and successful ‘Golf Academy’ for junior golfers in the area. In 2018, over 60 juniors took part in the program. Tara Hills CC was also supported and was involved in the Youth on Course efforts with the IGA, offering a discounted rate to junior golfers during specified times.

Tara Hills CC also has a dedicated tree planting program, whereby they nurture seedlings or transplant to replace and increase the tree population each year. The club, which is highly reliant on volunteer effort from its membership, took on projects recently to replace windows and a major kitchen remodel at the clubhouse. ‘Bat Boxes’ were also installed recently at the club to help assist with bug control on the course and to ensure a pleasant experience for those visiting and playing the course.


18-Hole Course of the Year – Beaver Hills Country Club (Cedar Falls)
Beaver Hills Country Club, in Cedar Falls, has been selected as the IGA 18-Hole Course of the Year.

Beaver Hills Country Club, which recently has hosted the 2017 Iowa Mid-Amateur Championship and the 2018 U.S. Amateur Sectional Qualifier, continues to draw words of praise by golfers from around the state for its condition as well as its overall atmosphere.

The club, which was founded in 1965, is set in a secluded spot where seemingly untouched wilderness is home to a fair, yet challenging, golf course. The Beaver Creek meanders throughout the picturesque course providing a home for many types of wildlife. Bentgrass fairways, tee boxes and greens are meticulously manicured, providing a beautiful setting for prairie flowers, butterflies and area wildlife.

Beaver Hills CC’s staff, including Club Manager Chad Hoffman, PGA Professional Brad Clark and Superintendent Josh Peterson, are all highly regarded professionals at their respective craft. Beaver Hills CC and its members (which totals nearly 400 individual IGA members) are always welcoming with open arms when the IGA brings events to town, and the course is a big draw to all players from around the state.


PGA Pro of the Year – John Shawver, Grinnell College Golf Course
John Shawver, of Grinnell College Golf Course, is the 2018 IGA’s PGA Professional of the Year.

With nearly 30 years of experience in the industry, Shawver has gained insight into grounds maintenance, pro shop sales and general operations of a golf course. And even more important, Shawver understands how all these areas connect and work together to form a successful facility.

Patrons who interact with Shawver will receive his undivided attention, good conversation and appreciation of your time. The staff and patrons of GCGC expressed in the nomination that his kindness is overlooked in the equation that makes up a great team member. His work and attention has led to wonderful growth at Grinnell College Golf Course. In 2018 alone, youth golf participation has more than doubled from 2017, the number of rounds are up almost 50% and officials at the club believe membership will increase next year from pupils that Shawver has introduced to the game.

Officials at GCGC credit Shawver with recruiting both traditional golfers and those who have never played the game to their course. Shawver cares greatly about playing and working on your game, but making sure you are having lots of fun at the same time. Shawver believes that it doesn’t matter what your swing plane looks like or what your spin rate is, if you aren’t having fun playing the game.

“That is how John goes about growing interest and participation in this game we call golf,” Shane Hart, GCGC Club Manager said. “This it why it makes him one of the greatest ambassadors (for golf in Iowa).


Club Manager of the Year – Russ Appel, Briggs Woods Golf Course (Webster City)
Russ Appel, of Briggs Woods Golf Course in Webster City, is the 2018 IGA Club Manager of the Year.

Since the spring of 1990 Russ Appel has been a familiar face at Webster City’s Briggs Woods Golf Course. More recently, Appel has been heavily involved with a multi-million dollar construction project at the club for a new conference center which is slated to be completed in early 2019. With Appel’s guidance the club has seen little disruption to its day-to-day activities at the golf course.

Appel, who also serves as superintendent at the 18-hole municipal facility, helped spearhead fundraising efforts for the project – with 100% of the work being paid from either donations or grants, including support from local government. The project, which began on a smaller scale, grew into a ‘community’ endeavor and will now include an 11,200 sq. ft. building with a full service kitchen, movable walls, high tech A/V system, large bathrooms and many other amenities that will serve 300-400 people.

With the construction of the new conference center, plus his duties as both superintendent and club manager, it’s hard to imagine just how busy Russ was during the 2018 season. But that hard work shows through to the golfers at Briggs Woods and the citizens of Webster City, as they will both be treated with a wonderful new facility next year.

But adding extra work, such as the conference center, does not come as a surprise to those who have been around Briggs Woods as long as Russ has. During his tenure at the course, Appel has oversaw the addition of the back nine holes, addition of several new tee boxes, construction of a new clubhouse and the addition of stay and play packages. It’s almost as if the man has no idea how to rest!

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