Month: October 2021

Kinney Advances to Korn Ferry Qualifying School Final Stage

Former Waukee and Iowa State golf standout Tripp Kinney (above middle) has advanced to the final stage of the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School tournament. Kinney fired a 72-hole total of 280 at a recent second stage qualifier in Albuquerque, NM to place 13th and punch his ticket to the finals set for Nov. 4-7 in Savannah, GA. Players who make the final stage are assured a 2022 Korn Ferry Tour card, with final results determining their status in early season events.

Five other golfers with Iowa connections also participated in the second stage qualifying event but failed to advance. Former NCAA champion Broc Everett of West Des Moines shot a 288 to tie for 58th in Brooksville, FL. Matthew Walker of Ottumwa, the 2019 Iowa Open winner, and University of Iowa golfer, shot a 289 to tie for 66th at a qualifier in Plantation, FL. Former Iowa State linksters and New Zealand natives Nick Voke, who shot a 285 for a tie for 40th, and Denzel
Ieremia, who posted 284 (T35th), participated in the second stage event in Murrieta, CA. Alex Shaake, former University of Iowa golfer, shot 287 (T44th) at a qualifer in Dothan, AL.

Smith, Leszczynski tough to beat on the course this year

Indianola’s Leanne Smith (above) did it again and won the 2021 IGA Women’s Player of the Year award. After a season filled with wins, Smith’s performance was nothing short of spectacular this year.

Smith started the season with a win at her first ever Iowa Women’s Forever 39 Match Play. She defeated Laura Leszczynski in the final round to earn the first victory of the season. Smith now had to defend her title for the second-straight time at the IGA Women’s Match Play. 

Beginning the tournament, Smith had dominating wins in the early rounds. She continued to battle and ended up taking down the No. 4 seeded Anna Jensen for her third consecutive IGA Women’s Match Play victory. 

Next up, Smith helped Echo Valley Country Club win the IGA Women’s Club Team Championship and she was crowned the Individual Gross Champion. Smith followed that up by qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur to send her to South Carolina for the 2021 championship.

Smith played well in the stroke play portion of the USGA championship and made match play, but was defeated by Kaylin Crownover in the round of 64. Smith also participated in the IGA Women’s Mid-Am Series Event No. 3 and won the event with fellow Echo Valley member, Erin Schaffer, to wrap up her season on a high note. Smith finished the Player of the Year race 625 points ahead of Ames, Joy Chou.

Click here to view a full recap of the 2021 IGA Women’s Player of the Year standings.

Laura Leszczynski (above), of Saint Mary’s, has been crowned the 2021 IGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year after a back-and-forth race between the 2020 IGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year, Rose Kubesheski. 

This season, Leszczynski recorded three victories, including a win at the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Qualifier. Another win came at the 3rd IGA Women’s Mid-Am Series event where she teamed up with Cindy Morrison to win the senior division.

One of Leszczynski’s most difficult challenges happened on her home-course. The 56th Iowa Senior Women’s Amateur Championship was played at Indianola Country Club, where Leszczynski is a member.

The pressure of wanting to win a championship filled with a history of great amateur golfers was immense. Now add the pressure of accomplishing this feat at your home-course and that was what Leszczynski had to battle. 

Through the first round, she was inside the top-10. An impressive final round score of 70 gave Leszczynski the outright victory and she completed a four-shot comeback. After two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and three wins, Leszczynski earned the 2021 IGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year.

Leszczynski finished 242.5 points ahead of Kubesheski.

Click here to view a full recap of the 2021 IGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year standings.

McCoy, Palmer, Ryan come out on top in Player of the Year Race

The battle for the 2021 IGA Men’s Player of the Year between the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member, Jon Brown, and Nate McCoy (above) has subsided. McCoy triumphed in his final event of the season to make one last push up the leaderboard.

During the 2021 season McCoy claimed three victories that added 700 points to his overall total. McCoy’s first win came at the 2021 Carroll Amateur where he defeated the 2020 IGA Player of the Year, Connor Peck. 

McCoy continued to heat up and snagged a second-place finish at the Iowa Amateur Championship. He then went on to win an event he has won multiple times, the Iowa Masters at Veenker Memorial Golf Course. 

In his next event, McCoy won the amateur division at the Iowa Open and was close to winning the overall tournament. He dominated the amateur division and stayed near the top of the pro-am leaderboard all week.

As the season was was nearing an end, McCoy was trailing Brown by roughly 70 points. However, Brown had completed all his events and McCoy needed to make match play at the U.S. Mid-Amateur in Massachusetts in order to overtake the top spot. 

Going into the back nine of his final round of stroke play at the U.S. Mid-Am, McCoy was three-over and outside of the number. Back-to-back birdies on the first and second hole of the back nine put McCoy well inside the top-64. 

A bogey creeped onto the scorecard on the sixth hole and McCoy looked to be heading into a playoff for the last couple of spots. A late birdie on the last hole pushed McCoy inside the number and away from a playoff. 

McCoy walked away that day with an appearance in the match play portion of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and the 2021 IGA Men’s Player of the Year.

Click here to view a full recap of the 2021 IGA Men’s Player of the Year standings. 

After a dominating 2021 season, Norwalk’s Joe Palmer (above) is the IGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year for the third time in the last four years. With five wins on the season, it is not a surprise to see Palmer winning this award in back-to-back years. 

The former Iowa Hawkeye began his Player of the Year campaign at Iowa City’s Finkbine Golf Course. Palmer defeated Jeff Collett and took home the Senior Division trophy at the IGA Mid-Amateur Championship. 

 A streak of four-straight wins started to develop after Palmer’s win in Iowa City. He teamed up with another Norwalk native, Terry Cook, and went on to defeat Gary Ellis and Jay Goeser in the IGA Four-Ball. 

Eastern Iowa treated Palmer well as he repeated his 2020 success at this year’s Senior Match Play at Geneva Golf Course in Muscatine. Now known as a match play stalwart to many, Palmer was able to bring that confidence back to central Iowa for the IGA Match Play.

Palmer won his fourth straight event at Talons Golf in Ankeny. He knocked off some of the best amateurs in the state on his way to becoming the first player to win the IGA Senior Match Play and the IGA Match Play.

To wrap up his stellar season, Palmer tacked on two second-place finishes at the Iowa Masters and the Herman Sani Tournament. He also added a win at the Iowa Open (Senior Division) in Riverside and finished in a tie for fourth at the Iowa Senior Amateur hosted by The Preserve on Rathbun Lake. 

With a 673.33-point lead over the second-place finisher, Gene Elliott, it is safe to say nobody could catch Palmer this season.

Click here to view a full recap of the 2021 IGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year standings. 

Pat Ryan (above left), of Marshalltown, was the definition of consistent during the 2021 season. He compiled eight top-five finishes and two wins in route to winning his first IGA Super Senior Player of the Year award in 2021. 

Ryan’s name could be found near the top of the leaderboard in all 13 tournaments he played in. Victories at the Fort Dodge Amateur and the Waterloo Open highlighted Ryan’s remarkable season. 

A slew of third place finishes pushed Ryan up the standings each week. With an impressive third place finish at the 72nd Herman Sani Tournament, Ryan could feel confident about where he stood amongst some of the best Super Seniors in the state.

In the match play events, Ryan made the cut at the IGA Match Play that was held at Talons Golf. Earlier in the year, Ryan made it all the way to the semi-final round in the Senior Match Play at Geneva Golf and Country Club. 

Another impressive finish this year by Ryan was at the Iowa Open. With eight top-five finishes and two wins, Ryan’s season was one to remember.

Consistency, along with strong play gave Ryan a 447.5-point victory over the two-time Super Senior Player of the Year and good friend, Rob Christensen.

Click here to view a full recap of the 2021 IGA Super Senior Player of the Year standings. 

Hansen, Hoffman are top juniors in 2021

Waverly’s Hogan Hansen took home the 2021 IGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year after an impressive season in 2021. As an Iowa High School State Champion and an Iowa Junior Amateur Champion, it is safe to say Hansen dominated this year. 

Hansen earned two top-10 finishes at the Herman Sani Tournament and the Briarwood Amateur. He also earned two top-five finishes coming from the Midwest Junior Championship and the TPC Deere Run Junior Open. 

A third-place finish at the 45th Iowa Boys’ Junior PGA Championship and a second-place finish at the Iowa Open helped push Hansen to the top of the standings. 

In the spring, Hansen won the IHSAA 3A State Tournament as an individual. This win gave the young prospect 300 points. Later in the summer, Hansen traveled to Coldwater to defeat Nate Spear in a playoff and win the Iowa Junior Amateur Championship. 

Maxwell Tjoa, who qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur this year, finished second in the IGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year race. William Simpson was our third-place finisher and 2020 Junior Boys’ Player of the Year, Cale Leonard, finished in fourth place. 

Click here to view a full recap of the 2021 IGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year standings. 

Paige Hoffman (above), of West Des Moines, is your 2021 Junior Girls’ Player of the Year. Hoffman started to heat up early this season and didn’t cool off, finishing in the top-10 in every tournament she played. 

Two sixth-place finishes came at the Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship and the Midwest Junior Championship. These two fields were filled with some of Iowa’s top-amateur golfers and Hoffman made herself known during those weeks. 

A fourth-place finish at the IGHSAU 4A State Championship started up Hoffman’s summer run. During the Iowa Junior Girls’ Amateur Championship, Hoffman finished in third place and was in contention all week.

Her two victories were at the IGA Women’s Four-Ball Championship with her partner, Kylie Carey, and a three-shot win at the TPC Deere Run Junior Open. These two wins totaled 700 points and gave Hoffman a 175-point victory over Eden Lohrbach.  

Click here to view a full recap of the 2021 IGA Junior Girls’ Player of the Year standings.

‘Up and Down’ the Iowa Golf Scene – IGA Rules Official Sean Flanders

Rules official Sean Flanders (right) confers with IGA staff member Katelynn Hogenson prior to the start of a recent tournament.

The Visible, Invisible Man – IGA Rules Official Sean Flanders

Being available to help the player and getting it right are among the primary objectives for Sean Flanders and the Iowa Golf Association rules officials’ team.

Flanders is a veteran member of a behind the scenes IGA volunteer staff that ensures tournaments are run smoothly, efficiently and without incident. And that the integrity of the game is upheld. 

He’s been a busy volunteer for the IGA tournament team for the past eight years, working nearly 125 tournaments during that span, including a busy schedule of more than 20 events annually for the past few years. The IGA recognized Flanders’ exceptional service by renaming its annual Volunteer of the Year Award after him in 2018.

Flanders and his fellow rules officials want to be available to players as needed – but to be inconspicuous and behind the scenes. “Rules officials are there to help the players, we are not looking for ways to penalize them,” he said. “Golf can present the player with some unusual circumstances, and we want to make sure the various options are known and to ensure the rules are understood and abided by.”

Flanders has been playing golf for more than 50 years. But it was during a trip to the former PGA Tour Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic in Williamsburg, VA that sparked his interest in becoming a rules official. Flanders is retired following a career that began by serving his country through a tour in Vietnam as a radio corpsman with the Marine Corps, bartending, and on to various roles in manufacturing and service industries as well as 20-plus year stint with the local Anheuser-Busch distributor. One of the perks of the latter position was participating in the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic Pro-Am during the early 90’s, teeing it up with the likes of past Tour winners Bob Eastwood, Joey Sindelar, David Peoples and Jay Don Blake. 

During one of those events he crossed paths with Mark Russell, the iconic PGA Tour rules official and tournament director who retired this year after a 40-year run, the longest tenured employee in the history of the PGA Tour. Russell told Flanders that if you can’t play golf at a highly competitive level, the next best way to give back to the game is by being involved as a rules and tournament official. 

Flanders took that counsel to heart. It was off to Phoenix for a three-day rules workshop sponsored by the USGA, followed by a 100-question USGA Rules of Golf Exam, the national standard to test the depth and breadth of participants’ knowledge of the Rules of Golf, including definitions and interpretations. Participants may achieve Expert or Advanced rules certification from the USGA. 

That experience helped set the stage for a highly-successful relationship with the IGA. He’s worked a wide variety of events and championships – the Iowa Amateur, Senior Amateur, Mid-Amateur, Herman Sani, USGA qualifiers and even high school state championships. Being a rules official for so many tournaments has exposed Flanders to unusual rules circumstances – but it’s the basics that come to mind first. “You’d be surprised at how many experienced tournament players don’t really know the difference between red and yellow penalty areas, the options with an unplayable lie or how to properly put a ball in play.”

Flanders also volunteers to work the Iowa Masters. He’s stationed at the notorious 16th hole, a risk-reward par-5 with a narrow fairway, creek and overhanging trees protecting the green. Many a rules interpretations come into play, especially when the tees are forward which creates a scenario where younger players challenge the hole and try to get home in two. “In all the years I’ve worked that hole, I can count on one hand how many times players get a favorable kick after hitting the trees on the right side. Then I watch Mike McCoy and Gene Elliott hit their third shots from the fairway and make birdie.”

His best advice for players of all ages is to know and understand the Rules of Golf and to observe the pace of play standards. “This is my opportunity to give back to the game of golf and hopefully raise interest, awareness and involvement of rules officials,” he said. “I’ve met so many great people through this game.”

“Up and Down” the Iowa Golf Scene

A regular feature column written by IGA Foundation board member Mark Gambaiana, Up and Down the Iowa Golf Scene is designed to take the reader beyond the headlines and scoreboards to share stories of those who help make Iowa golf so rich and rewarding. Profiles will spotlight those who advance the game through volunteerism, service, extraordinary achievement, competition, human interest and the many other dimensions of golf in Iowa.

New Model Local Rule Establishes Limit on Club Length

The USGA and The R&A have announced that a new Model Local Rule (MLR G-10) will be available beginning on Jan. 1, 2022 to provide those running professional or elite amateur golf competitions the option of limiting the maximum length of a golf club (excluding putters) to 46 inches.

The proposal was announced in February 2021, which opened a notice-and-comment period to allow the industry the opportunity to provide feedback as part of the equipment rulemaking procedures. The comments received from the golf industry, including players, professional tours and equipment manufacturers, were carefully considered before the decision to proceed with the new MLR was reached.

The USGA and The R&A issued an Area of Interest notice in 2014 indicating that research was being conducted into the impact of club lengths of more than 48 inches on hitting distance and whether that limit remained appropriate. A proposed change to the limit was subsequently put forward in 2016 but was put on hold in 2017 when the Distance Insights project got underway.

Mike Whan, chief executive officer of the USGA, said, “We’ve worked closely with our industry partners to ensure the future for golf remains strong. Admittedly, this is not the ‘answer’ to the overall distance debate/issue, but rather a simple option for competitive events. It’s important to note that it is not a ‘Rule of Golf,’ and as such, it is not mandated for the average, recreational golfer. Rather, this is an available tool for those running competitive events.”

Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said, “We have taken time to consult fully with the golf industry, including players, the main professional tours and equipment manufacturers, and have considered their feedback carefully. We believe this is the right thing for the game at this time and will provide tournament organizers with the flexibility to choose for themselves within the framework of the Rules. We are working hard to maintain an open, collaborative and considered dialogue with these key stakeholders as we continue to evolve the Equipment Standards Rules to ensure they reflect the modern game.”

The proposals submitted in February for changes to the testing method for golf balls and the testing tolerance for spring-like effect are still under consideration. The governing bodies plan to consider feedback on these proposals in line with the responses to the broader Area of Interest – Research Topics notification, which are due by November 2.

The detail of MLR G-10 can be found here.

Ankeny G&CC, Monticello GC take home titles at 15th IGA Club Team Championship

From left – Cody Holck, Joe Bethel, Curtis Holck and Keith Walton.

Ankeny Golf and Country Club (above) and Monticello Golf Club took home the hardware after Monday’s round at the 15th IGA Club Team Championship , hosted at The Meadows Golf Club in Dubuque.

The Ankeny Golf and Country Club team included Joe Bethel, Curtis Holck, Cody Holck and Keith Walton. They compiled a two-over team score of 218 to win the Gross Division by four shots over Geneva Golf and Country Club. 

Bethel led the way for his team and claimed the win in the individual standings after carding a two-under round of 70. Curtis Holck fired a one-over 73 in his round and his son, Cody Holck, posted a three-over 75. Walton rounded out his team with a four-over 76 and finished in a tie for 14th in the individual standings. 

From left – Phil McDonald, Kevin Goedken, Dustin Hall and Mike Wennekamp.

Monticello Golf Club (above) team featured Dustin Hall, Mike Wennekamp, Kevin Goedken and Phil McDonald. All together they put together a net score of 214 and finished two-under, surpassing Dyersville Country Club #2 by three shots.

Hall and Wennekamp finished in a tie for ninth place after carding rounds of 75 to end the day at three-over. Goedken posted a seven-over 79 and finished in a tie for 24th in the individual standings. McDonald finished 15-over after a round of 87.

Gross Standings
1. Ankeny G&CC +2 218
2. Geneva G&CC +6 222
3. Elmcrest CC +7 223
4. Monticello GC +13 229
5. Valley Oaks GC +16 232

Net Standings
1.Monticello GC -2 214
2. Dyersville CC2 +1 217
T3. Elmcrest CC +2 218
T3. Valley Oaks GC +2 218
T3. Geneva G&CC +2 218
** Ankeny G&CC -6 210 (Unable to win both divisions) **

Individual Standings
1. Joe Bethel -2 70
T2. Frank Anderson E 72
T2. Bryan Lemkau E 72
T2. Jesse Truax E 72
T5. Nicholas Ivory +1 73
T5. Curtis Holck +1 73
T5. Sam Herrmann +1 73

Dedication set for Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member Steve Spray

Indianola Country Club, located at 1610 Country Club Road in Indianola, will host a ceremony Monday, October 11, at 10:30 a.m.,  to dedicate “Steve Spray Lane” and to commemorate Iowa Golf Hall of Fame Steve Spray’s life and golf career.  The public is invited to join friends, family, and admirers for this event. 

Earlier this year the entrance drive lane was named in Spray’s honor. A large street  sign graces the entrance. Spray grew up in Indianola in the 1950s. He learned to play golf at the then-small,  27 acre Indianola Country Club. 

Spray was an accomplished golfer. During his high school years, he won the 1958  Iowa Junior Amateur Championship and the Western junior Championship in 1959.  As a collegiate golfer at Eastern New Mexico University he won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Championship in 1962 and ’63. He  also won the Iowa Amateur Championship in 1963 and the Iowa Open in ’64. 

Spray turned professional in 1964, joining the PGA Tour in 1965. He went on to tie for 5th in the U.S. Open in 1968 where he tied the likes of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus for a record low final round of 65. That record held until Johnny  Miller shot a 63 in 1973. Spray shot a blistering 30 on the back 9, also a record  that stood for 27 years. 

He won the San Francisco Open Invitational in 1969 after competing in the Masters in 1968. 

After leaving the tour Spray became the head golf professional at St Louis Country  Club, a position he held for more than 30 years. During his career he was awarded  many honors including being a Hall of Fame member in Iowa, Eastern New Mexico University, and the Gateway Section PGA.

Following retirement, Spray was a founding member of Accelerated Golf Tour in Missouri. He was dedicated to promoting golf, especially for advanced younger  players, giving them opportunities to be exposed to college coaches and supporting  scholarships for them. 

At the dedication, people will gather at the entrance to the Club to recognize and remember Steve Spray. After the brief ceremony, lunch will be served in the club  house. Following lunch the assembled PGA Professionals and others will play the  course where Steve honed his game.

Spray was inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame in 2009.

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