The year was 1968 and the Iowa Cup was born that fall. In what was then a stroke play event, both the Iowa Section PGA and Iowa Golf Association met at newly-minted Des Moines Golf & Country Club. The amateurs would capture the cup that year – by the margin of one stroke.
Fast forward to 2019 – the Iowa Cup continues for the 52nd time and is now a match play, Ryder Cup style event. It will be contested this fall at Davenport’s Crow Valley Golf Club (pictured above) on Sept. 26-27. The Iowa Golf Association and Iowa PGA Section, winners of the last three matches, named honorary captains for their teams – Bill Eby (IGA) and Mark Lemon (Iowa PGA), who both have served their respective associations in many ways. Iowa Golf Hall of Fame Member Lonnie Nielsen (Class of 2010), a tremendous amateur and professional golfer originally from Belle Plaine, will serve as an overall honoree of the matches.
Eby is the current Vice President of the IGA and has worked as a volunteer course rater for nearly a decade. He currently chairs the IGA’s Handicap Committee and was awarded the Sean Flanders IGA Volunteer of the Year award in 2014.
Lemon has been a member of the PGA for over 36 years. He was the longtime PGA professional and owner of Airport National Golf Course in Cedar Rapids and is a veteran Iowa Cup Matches participant. Mark has served on various Iowa PGA committees throughout the years. He has also served on the IGA’s Herman Sani Scholarship selection committee for numerous years.
“Many of us IPGA Pros developed our tournament skills and passion for golf while playing in the fun and competitive IGA events as amateurs before turning pro,” Lemon said. “Both organizations promote and grow golf through many ‘golf related programs & tournaments’.
Nielsen grew up playing on sand greens and went on to attend the University of Iowa. He won several amateur events in Iowa, including the 1975 Iowa Amateur, and was named Iowa Player of the Year that year. He turned pro in 1976 and competed for a brief time on the PGA Tour highlighted by two top ten finishes before pursuing a career as a club pro. Nielsen was a dominant player in the Western New York Section PGA winning its Section Championship nine times and the Match Play Championship 10 times from 1984 through 2002
Nielsen played the PGA Champions Tour full time beginning in 2006 winning two titles and has amassed almost $5 million in winnings. Nielsen’s best year was 2008 when he finished 11th on the money list with over $1.2 million in cash.
Nielsen will be unable to attend the matches this year was quite thrilled when hearing of the honor.
“Fifty-two years of the Iowa Cup Matches – wow,” Nielsen said. “That says something right there. I am very humbled to be chosen as the overall honoree of the 2019 Matches.”
Nielsen commented that Iowa will always be special to him.
“Even though we left Iowa in 1984, Iowa has never left my heart,” Nielsen said. “When people ask me where I’m from, I still proudly say Iowa! Sometimes I think of playing on sand greens at the Belle Plaine Country Club – never dreaming I would win twice on the Champions Tour. I want to wish both teams good luck. The Iowa Cup Matches represent the best of what golf is about.”
Eby, who will lead the charge for the IGA and is from Davenport, said he is looking forward to welcoming players and staff from both sides to his side of the state.
“I feel fortunate to represent the IGA in this event as Captain,” Eby said. “I am excited to welcome the IPGA And IGA representatives to Eastern Iowa. We appreciate everyone making the trip and I look forward to visiting the players and staff from both sides.”
The Iowa Cup Matches’ schedule will be as follows:
-Thursday (Sept 26) morning – Four-Ball Matches
-Thursday afternoon – Foursome Matches
-Thursday evening – Player’s dinner
-Friday (Sept 27) – Singles matches
-The Cup will be presented to the winning team following play on Friday
Bret Taylor (Senior)
Joe Bates (Senior
Ron Peterson (Senior)
Terry Cook (Senior)
Bryan Luedtke (Senior)
Jeff Schmid (Senior)
Jeff Smith (Senior)
Jim Henry (Senior)
Follow the 2019 Iowa Cup Matches online here: https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/2200196