Year: 2021

Iowa Junior, Girls’ Junior moves to three-day championship

The 2021 Iowa Junior and Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship will look different than previous years – but only by a day.

Both championships, set to be held at Ames’ Coldwater Golf Links June 21-23, will be contested over 54-holes in three days. In the past the event has been a 36-hole championship over two days for the oldest age divisions.

Most of the IGA’s major championships are 54-holes championships and both the Men’s and Women’s Rules and Competitions committees felt that the Iowa Junior and Girls’ Junior Amateur should mirror those events.

“This change was done first and foremost to elevate the status of the championship. Moving to a 54-hole event mirrors our other major events, like the Iowa Amateur, Women’s Amateur, and Senior Amateur,” said IGA CEO/Executive Director Chad Pitts.

It is also worth noting that the Iowa Junior and Girl’s Junior Amateur will have one division (18 & under). This was a change that the committees felt would elevate the event and make it unique to juniors in Iowa, as it reflects what the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship currently looks like, where 14 and 15-year-olds truly compete with 17 and 18-year-olds.

“It was a very tough decision to eliminate the younger age divisions from this championship. As the Allied Golf Association of the USGA we wanted our state junior amateur to more closely resemble that of the national championship, which does not have age divisions,” added Pitts. “Plus, these kids all play high school golf against one another no matter if they are freshman or seniors, so we feel that part won’t be very foreign to them at all.”

Although we know that this may discourage some younger players from participating right away, we hope that it gives them something to look forward to as they develop as players.

“The hardest part was eliminating the very young age divisions – the 13 and under divisions – because we know those kids are very unlikely to enter the event now,” said Tom Christensen, immediate past chairman of the IGA Rules & Competitions Committee. “Thankfully, our state has a wealth of playing opportunities for the youngest golfers with the Iowa Section PGA Junior Tour, so we will work to promote those events even more than we have in the past.”

Did you know – The Iowa Golf Association recently obtained two new permanent trophies that will include the names of each champion from the past going forward.  We are excited to unveil those at this year’s championship.


Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member Lonnie Nielsen passes away

Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member Lonnie Nielsen, originally from Belle Plaine, passed away on Wednesday, January 20, 2020, at the age of 67.

Nielsen is remembered for his enjoyment of music, playing cards, telling jokes, and eating ice cream. To know him was to love him. He was known for his infectious smile, quick wit, and sense of humor.

Nielsen grew up playing on sand greens in Belle Plaine 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 beginning in 2006 through 2017, 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.

He was inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame in 2010.

Memorial Service:
Nielsen’s family plans to honor him at 9 a.m. (10 a.m. EST) on Monday, January 25th, in New York (you can find details by clicking on the obituary link below).  You can view a live stream of the service by visiting In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to PGA REACH WNY ( or the Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration ( 

Click here to view an online obituary for Nielsen.

We encourage you to share condolences and your favorite memories of Lonnie in the comments section below. We will share these memories with his wife Mary Jo and the Nielsen family.

Youth on Course sees early success in Iowa

Time sure flies – and success continues to grow.

As you may or may not know, in 2018 Iowa became the 21st state to offer Youth on Course. Youth on Course (YOC) started in 2006 by the Northern California Golf Association. At its most basic level, it is a program that subsidizes rounds of golf for juniors at participating courses. It has become very popular and, in 2014, the NCGA began expanding the program to other states and regions, spreading essentially from west to east. Recently it was announced that YOC will soon be available in all 50 states.

Many IGA Member Clubs that offer the program, from across the state, have seen tremendous success since it’s launch in 2018, including Hunters Ridge Golf Course (Marion), Jester Park (Granger) and AH Blank, Waveland Golf Course and Bright-Grandview Golf Course (Des Moines). Any junior boy or girl age 6 to 18 can join Youth on Course for a $15 yearly fee. A YOC membership allows them access to any participating Youth on Course facility (there are over 1,200 nationally) to play a round of golf for $5 or less.

“Youth on course has lowered the cost barrier for families who are interested in getting kids involved in golf,” Rocky Sposato, General Manager / COO of Terrace Hills Golf Course, Waveland Golf Course, AH Blank Golf Course and Bright-Grandview Golf Course said. “It (YOC) has made a huge impact on the future of the golf industry by making golf affordable and accessible for our future golfers.”

Youth on Course in Iowa continued to grow in 2020 as membership grew 73%, while rounds played increased by 60% across all participating facilities.

“We have a good number of kids that utilized the program and have really done the advertising and marketing for us,” Nate Severin, Club Manager and PGA Professional at Hunters Ridge said in regards to the spike of YOC rounds at his course. “I think the best way to have success with this program is making sure the kids and parents have a firm grasp of the rules of when they can/can’t play. Every professional/club manager likes to see kids getting into the game of golf. It’s nice to see parents getting behind them and introducing the sport of golf. It also gives the parents a nice discount on letting the kids tag along for a quick nine, or make it a full 18 on a nice evening.”

Jeff Chiodo, PGA Professional at Jester Park GC, also commented that developing relationships with members of YOC is important in the success of the program.

“It’s been important to us (at Jester Park) to develop those relationships and make sure they feel wanted at the course,” Chiodo said. “We like to ask them how they played after the round and about their experience. We have the Par 3 course here as well, which helps. We are able to direct kids as best we can either to the Par 3 course or the main course based on playing ability, pace of play, but also making sure they feel comfortable when they are here.”

Chiodo also mentioned he uses a variety of avenues to promote the program including through social media, email marketing, junior camps held at Jester Park GC and through his involvement with PGA Junior League.

Currently, Iowa has 30 courses throughout the state that participate in Youth on Course but would like to add more.

“We are hopeful that more courses will sign up as a participating facility,” said IGA CEO/Executive Director Chad Pitts. “The program is great because you can set certain times when YOC rounds can be played so you can drive traffic to your non-peak hours. Plus, it has been shown that roughly 50% of all YOC rounds are played with an adult who pays a full fee, so it truly does become a win-win for the course”.

If you are interested in signing up as a participating facility, please fill out this link or contact the IGA office and we can get you all the details.

For more information about Youth on Course in Iowa visit

2021 Boatwright Internship Opportunities with the IGA

The Iowa Golf Association (IGA) is excited to offer three (3) P.J. Boatwright Internships in 2021 – Championship Administration, Handicapping & Course Rating and Marketing & Communications. Each internship will be for four months. Working under the direction of the IGA Executive Director and senior staff, the interns will learn about all aspects of amateur golf administration.

Individuals are more than welcome to apply for multiple internship positions – If doing so, please make sure to fill out each application (available below). If you do apply for multiple internships, the IGA will reach to you for your preferred choice.

The IGA is an Allied Golf Association (AGA) of the USGA and is the governing body for golf in the state of Iowa.  It exists as a non-profit organization that works to preserve, protect and promote the best interests and spirit of the game.  As “caretakers” of the game the IGA works to preserve the rich history of golf in our state and to provide numerous services that benefit all that play the game in Iowa.

In 1991, the USGA established the P.J. Boatwright Jr. Internship Program. P.J. Boatwright (pictured above), the USGA’s third executive director, played a pivotal role in both the USGA and golf in the U.S. This program is designed to give experience to individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in golf administration, while assisting state and regional golf associations in the promotion of amateur golf, on a short-term, entry-level basis. At the IGA, Chad Pitts, Katelynn Hogenson, Nate McCoy and Clint Brown are all former Boatwright interns.

The deadline to apply is Monday, March 8th or until position(s) are filled (whichever is later).

Click the links below to view the 2021 Intern job description and instructions for applying.

– Championship Administration Intern

– Handicap & Course Rating Intern

– Marketing & Communications Intern

Iowa’s Snyder finishes T10th at Women’s Orlando International Amateur

Britta Snyder (pictured right), of Ames, recently competed and finished T10th place at the Women’s Orlando International Amateur (Jan 3-5). Snyder posted rounds of 72-74-71 – 217 (+1) at Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge – Panther Lake.

The Women’s Orlando International Amateur championship is an annual golf tournament gathering high-level amateur golfers – most of whom are current collegiate players – from the United States of America and abroad. The tournament was played in Orlando, Florida, and included a large field of female golfers who competed over a 54-hole stroke play championship, playing 18 holes per day.

Snyder is currently a freshman on the Baylor University women’s golf team.

Click here to view results

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