Month: February 2021

Louis Dade – An Iowa golf legacy many don’t know

The following feature on Louis Dade was written by 11-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year Rick Brown and shared recently with Iowa Golf Association. The legacy of Louis Dade continues the celebration of Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. 

There’s a conference room named for Louis Dade at the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids.

It is a fitting honor for an unassuming man with a golfing legacy many don’t know.

To appreciate Dade’s golfing accomplishments, which include becoming the first African American to reach match play in an Iowa Amateur Championship, you need to follow the path he took to reach the golf course.

Louis Dade was born and raised in Canton, Mo., and dropped out of school before he finished the eighth grade. Segregated schools ended in Canton after the eighth grade, and youngsters like Dade had to travel to Hannibal, Mo., some 40 miles away, to continue their education.

He worked odd jobs for several years, then moved with a cousin to Fort Madison in 1927, when he was 17 years old. His cousin left soon after, but Dade stayed. He had an assortment of jobs  at the Anthes Hotel, including shining shoes and working as a bellhop.

He got married in 1928, and another life-changing moment came shortly after. He was hired by W.A. Sheaffer, whose well-known pen company is a significant part of Fort Madison history.

Dade worked for the Sheaffer family as a chauffeur, butler and later a caretaker.

“I took care of the cars, vacuumed, waxed the floors, whatever needed to be done,” Dade told the Fort Madison Daily Democrat in 2003.

Sheaffer was a golfer, and built an indoor driving range in the basement of his home.

“I’d been with the Sheaffer family for a little while, but not too long, when (Sheaffer) put the driving range in the basement,” Dade said. “This is the first time I connected with golf.”

Dade was not allowed to play the golf course in Fort Madison, where Sheaffer played, but golf help bond the two men.

“W.A. would come home from the pen factory and we’d hit balls in the basement,” Dade said. “He really got me interested in golf, and a few years later I taught the first golf lesson in Fort Madison.”

Dade left Fort Madison around World War I, taking jobs at Wisconsin Steel in Chicago and then Douglass Aircraft in Santa Monica, Calif. A member of the Sheaffer family called Dade and asked him to return to Fort Madison to care for W.H. Sheaffer and his wife. W.H. passed away in 1946, and his wife in 1961.

The Sheaffer family created a trust fund for Dade when he worked for them, which gave him financial security for his loyalty and good care.

“I was very fortunate,” Dade said. “They gave me a chance to have a great life.”

Dade’s golf game was in full swing the1950s. He honed his game at Flint Hills in Burlington, as well as courses in Fairfield, Muscatine, Keokuk, Ottumwa and Quincy, Ill. He also played golf in California when he drove the Sheaffers there over the winters.

Dade said that several people in Fort Madison, including golf pro and Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member Bob Fry, told him he should try his luck in an Iowa Amateur. Fry also spent time as Dade’s instructor.

Dade started playing in the Iowa Amateur in 1954. The championship was contested by match play back then, switching to medal play in 1960. Dade would take vacation every summer to play in the state’s most prestigious amateur championship.

He failed to qualify for match play in his first four attempts, though he did have success elsewhere. Dade won the 1956 Southeast Iowa Amateur. His Iowa Amateur breakthrough came in 1958 at the Fort Dodge Country Club. Dade qualified with an 80, and found himself in a nine-man playoff for the last three spots. Dade made a long putt on the first extra hole and advanced.

Dade’s first-round match was equally memorable, beating Iowa Golf Hall of Famer J.D. Turner, 3 and 2. Dade’s picture, posing with Iowa Golf Association secretary Chuck Irvine, was on the front page of the Des Moines Register’s Big Peach sports section the next day (shown above).

The cutline to the picture read, “Louis Dade of Fort Madison, first Negro to win a championship round match in Iowa Amateur golf history, checks with Chuck Irvine, secretary of the Iowa Golf Association, after Wednesday’s 3 and 2 victory over J.D. Turner of Perry.”

Dade bowed out in the second round to Bill Hird, Jr. of Fort Dodge, 4 and 2, but it was a memory he carried proudly for the rest of his life.

“I’ve never been treated better,” Dade told Bert McGrane of the Des Moines Register. “Jack Rule, Bill Hird, John Liechty, Herb Klontz and some of the others treated me like I was one of the group.”

Dade always appreciated his experience of playing in the Iowa Amateur.

“I don’t want any better treatment than I get,” he said.

After his responsibilities with the Sheaffer family ended, Dade would spent his winters in Arizona and his summers teaching golf in Iowa at places like Spring Lake in Fort Madison, Mount Pleasant Country Club, New London and Flint Hills in Burlington.

One of his pupils was 14-year-old Todd Hamilton, who grew up in Oquawka, Ill., across the Mississippi River from Keokuk.  Hamilton would go on to win the 2004 British Open.

On the course, Dade was shooting his age well into his 80s. He shot an 80 to win a senior tournament in Wapello when he was 82.

Dade was 88 when retired from teaching in 1996.He was 100 years old when he passed away on Oct. 22, 2008.

Five years before he passed, Dade and the Sheaffer Foundation donated $10,000 to the African American Museum of Iowa. And a conference room was named for him, complete with a photo exhibit of his private life and golf career.

“It’s quite an honor,” Dade said then. “I’m really pleased with that. I came here from Missouri back when I was 17, I didn’t have a high school or college education and I just wanted the chance to work.”

He also became a golfing trailblazer.

IGA launches ‘Greenside’ podcast

The Iowa Golf Association is excited to announce the development of its own podcast – Greenside – The Official Podcast of the IGA. ‘Greenside’ will explore a wealth of topics surrounding the world of golf in Iowa and beyond. From Rules of Golf education to recaps with IGA Champions to anything golf related, we’ll look to keep you entertained.

The podcast is currently now available on a variety of channels including Anchor, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and several others. We will provide links to those channels on social media as episodes are distributed online.

Feel free to reach out to us if you have an idea of a guest or topic(s) we should include in the future.

Additional Distance Research, Areas of Interest Proposed by governing bodies

The USGA and The R&A are re-engaging with the golf industry on the Distance Insights project, which aims to help achieve a more sustainable long-term future for golf.

The governing bodies are issuing specific Areas of Interest to help mitigate continuing distance increases and three proposed changes to the Equipment Rules to ensure their effectiveness in relation to distance limits.

The delivery of research topics related to hitting distances and golf’s sustainability was delayed in 2020 to allow the golf industry to focus on the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The Areas of Interest notice, sent on Monday to golf equipment manufacturers, follows the conclusions of the Distance Insights Report delivered last February. It is the first step of the established Equipment Rulemaking Procedures, which give the opportunity for golf’s stakeholders to provide research and perspectives on topics that might lead to equipment Rules changes.

In addition, three proposals related to Equipment Standards were also sent to the manufacturers yesterday and have been published – two to modernize equipment testing protocols and the other to consider the adoption of a Model Local Rule that would provide flexibility for committees, if they so choose, to limit the maximum length for clubs other than putters from 48 to 46 inches. Notice and comment periods have begun immediately to invite feedback on each of the three proposals from golf industry stakeholders.

Click here to learn more

George Roddy – Trailblazer on the Tee

The following feature on George Roddy first appeared in “Golden Harvest. Iowa’s Rich Golf History”, written by 11-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year Rick Brown and commissioned by the Iowa Golf Association. The story of George Roddy in Iowa also celebrates Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. 

George Roddy’s family couldn’t afford a bus ticket to send him from Keokuk to the University of Iowa in the late 1920s. So he packed his bags, put his golf clubs on his shoulder and hoofed it.

Born in 1908, Roddy was the first African-American member of the golf team at Iowa. He also became the first black captain and letterman in program history.

Roddy, who lettered in 1930 and 1931, ran into plenty of obstacles during his career. He wasn’t allowed to play in some meets, including the Big Ten championship, because they were held at exclusive clubs that closed their doors to blacks.

Roddy saw very little varsity action as a sophomore in 1929, even though he was medalist in the varsity-freshman meet to start the season. He also won the All-University Championship, beating Marc Stewart in the title match, 2 and 1. Roddy received both the Howard L. Beye traveling trophy and the Rudolph A. Kuever cup for his victory.

When Iowa opened the 1930 spring season against Grinnell, Coach Charles Kennett had Roddy as his No. 1 man.

“A star negro golfer from Keokuk, George Roddy, seems likely to head the attack against the Pioneers,” the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported on April 15, 1930.

In a dual with Minnesota on May 11, Roddy shot a Finkbine course-record 72 the hard way – 31-41. He defeated the Gophers’ William Fowler, who had won the North Dakota State Amateur championship in 1927 and 1929.

The Hawkeyes played just four matches that season, repercussions of a football slush fund scandal that had shut the door on any competition against Big Ten schools. A Big Ten faculty committee lifted that suspension on Feb. 2, 1930. The Minnesota dual in May was a late addition to the schedule.

Roddy also won the All-University Championship for a second time.

According to the 1930 “Hawkeye,” the University of Iowa’s yearbook, “George Roddy repeated his performance of a year before when he outplayed all competition to win out in the all-university tournament in the spring. Roddy plays with a style that few teams could cope with and went through the season without once tasting defeat. In most cases he won his matches by quite comfortable margins. The late return of Iowa into the Western conference accounted in part for the scheduling of but four matches.”

The Big Ten Championship was played at Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette, Ill. Roddy was not allowed to play because of the color of his skin. Teammate Fred Agnew couldn’t play because the two-day event conflicted with his senior law exams. Both Roddy and Agnew had gone through the regular season undefeated.

“Too bad about George Roddy and Fred Agnew not getting to take in the conference golf meet next week in Chicago,” Press-Citizen sports editor Jack Patton wrote on May 17, 1930. “Agnew is busy with senior law exams, while Roddy’s color bars him from the Chicago links. Roddy wasn’t used at all last year in spite of his being all-university champ, and cut loose this year with three wins and a university course record. He’s Iowa’s most serious threat in conference golf history. No one has ever played on Finkbine field who has more golf etiquette than Roddy.”

Without their two best players at the Big Ten meet, Iowa was in last place after the first day of 36-hole competition. The Hawkeyes trailed ninth-place Chicago by 44 strokes. Iowa withdrew before the second round.

The Hawkeyes won the 1931 state collegiate championship in Roddy’s senior year, but the highlight was a 10-8 victory over DePaul in Iowa City. Roddy led the winning effort by shooting 73. It was DePaul’s first loss in two seasons. Roddy had a hand in six of those 10 points with victories in both his singles and doubles matches.

Roddy was denied a third all-University crown, falling in the semifinals. He did win the University of Iowa team championship.

Race ended Roddy’s season and Hawkeye career prematurely.

“The Hawkeye team won three of its seven dual meets,” the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported on May 19, 1931. “Absence of George Roddy, No. 1 man, weakened the team in the (University of) Chicago and Northwestern duals of last week. Roddy, a Negro, was barred from playing on the metropolitan club courses because of his color.”

In his final competition as a Hawkeye, Roddy helped Iowa defeat visiting Iowa State, 11-7. Kennett decided not to enter the Big Ten Championship, played in Ann Arbor, Mich.

George Augustus Roddy received his engineering degree from the University of Iowa on July 16, 1931.

Roddy, The Des Moines Register reported, “is rated as the best Iowa golfer of all time and is the present record holder on the university’s Finkbine course.”

Roddy came to Des Moines a week after graduating and won the inaugural Midwestern Negro Golf Tournament at Grandview. He was also the National Minority Amateur champion in 1930 and 1937.

Roddy became an educator and coach. He started out as an instructor and golf coach at Arkansas State College from 1931 to 1933. Then he went to North Carolina A&T, where he was the golf coach and also an auto mechanics and mathematics teacher until 1948. He moved from there to Indianapolis, Ind., where he was an industrial arts teacher and started the golf program at Crispus Attucks High School.

Roddy won the Indianapolis city golf title twice. The first came in 1963. He also won in 1967 when he was 57 years old. Roddy passed away in 1988 at 80 years of age.

Roddy was the first African-American elected to the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame in 1999.

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