2023 Annual Awards announced

On Friday, October 27, the IGA Board of Directors named recipients of the 2023 Annual Awards in six categories. We are pleased to announce this year’s honorees.

9-Hole Superintendent – Rande Giesking, Gruis Recreation Area
Rande Giesking, of Gruis Recreation Area in Buffalo Center, is this year’s IGA 9-Hole Superintendent of the Year.

Turn back the clock to 1978 and a young Rande Giesking began mowing the grass at Gruis Recreation Area – fast forward some 40+ years later and Giesking can still be found paying close attention to the needs of the course outside of Buffalo Center.

“Rande takes pride in his work and does it to the best of his ability,” Kim Ostermann said. “He has found great staff who exemplify his work ethic and keep the course looking great.”

Not only does Giesking keep the course in great playing condition, but he is also known to give away driving range tokens to junior golfers as they prepare for tournaments, encourage high school competitors, and continually listen to club members’ suggestions and attempts to put them into action for what is best for the course.

Giesking also partnered with a neighboring school district to provide them with the opportunity to bring 35 students to the course to learn about maintenance practices and to maybe spark an interest in turfgrass management for those attending.

“Rande has done an amazing job, not only this year, but for his 45 years here and you can tell his passion for this land is from the heart, it’s not just a job,” Club Manager Joyce Woodwick said. “Gruis Recreation Area has a special place in so many people’s hearts.”

It’s safe to say Giesking is one of the reasons why.

18-Hole Superintendent – Chris Coen, Glen Oaks Country Club
Chris Coen, of Glen Oaks Country Club, has been named the IGA’s 2023 18-Hole Superintendent of the Year.

Coen, who has served Glen Oaks CC since its establishment in 1994, has been instrumental in the facility remaining one of the state’s best.

“He has been instrumental in our Junior Camps as well”, PGA Director of Golf Don Tracy said. “He shows kids how cups are changed, how to take care of the course by fixing ball marks and replacing or filling divots.”

As many around the state continue to find it difficult to find staff, let alone keep them, Coen’s Assistant Superintendent, Equipment Manager and 2nd Assistant has been with him for over 10 years.

“He is a positive role model for all of his staff,” Tracy said. “His dedication to the golf course shows and is also dedicated to growing the game of golf through his support of the Iowa Golf Association, Iowa Golf Course Superintendent’s Association, and others, as well as the need for membership and the community. All of the groups we have hosted events for in 2023 have been so impressed with the course and facilities that they have already booked for 2024. That says a lot about Chris Coen and his team.”

9-Hole Course of the Year – Sibley Golf & Country Club
Sibley Golf & Country Club has been named the IGA’s 2023 9-Hole Course of the Year.

Sibley G&CC is a hidden gem to many in a small town of 2,400 people.

The course not only has a strong schedule of competitive golf events throughout the season, including five tournaments that are hosted annually with local sponsorship adding to the prize fund, but the club also promotes and encourages junior, female, and senior golfers to take advantage of a variety of events and opportunities offered.

“I love the encouragement for kids to come out and learn the sport,” Lacey Julius said.

They also support the community by hosting several events annually that support local non-profit organizations.

“It’s a very impressive facility in such a small town,” Crystal Strouth said.

18-Hole Course of the Year – Rice Lake Golf & Country Club
Rice Lake Golf & Country Club has been named the IGA’s 2023 18-Hole Course of the Year.

Rice Lake Golf & Country Club offers so much, including a trio of experiencing its beauty, the challenges it offers, and the people who hold the course close to their hearts.

Situated between Rice Lake State Park, in Lake Mills, the course has great views of the lake and is adjacent to Iowa corn and bean fields. The golfing challenges come differently each day according to members, as the bent grass greens and irrigated fairways offer a great playing surface.

Future improvements, forward-thinking, and opportunities for income without infringing on the member’s ability to play regularly are the core missions of the facility.

Investment in the youth around the community can be seen at Rice Lake G&CC as well.

“Travis Laudner (PGA Professional) and the rest of the staff do a great job developing youth golfers,” member Craig Braget said. “Our summer program had over 40 signed up to continue to learn about the game of golf. This success coupled with our $69 youth membership to make it affordable has put a lot of fire in the belly of many (juniors).

PGA Pro of the Year – Scott Nugent, Ames Golf & CC
Scott Nugent, of Ames Golf & CC, is the IGA’s 2023 PGA Professional of the Year.

Scott Nugent’s enthusiasm for the game and, in particular, his support and encouragement of junior golfers, is evident as he goes about his duties on a day-to-day basis at Ames G&CC.

“Scott works tirelessly and supports not only the junior program, but the ladies and men’s league as well,” Gary Youngberg said. “He is open to suggestions and his door is always open to the membership. He is willing to listen to ideas from the various committees involved as well as individuals within the membership. AGCC and its membership are true benefactors to Scott’s employment with us.”

Many members commented that his attention to detail, desire to grow the same commitment to providing an exceptional experience, and willingness to tackle the ‘hard stuff’ set Nugent apart from many.

“He puts focus on the membership in many ways,” Kurt Matthewson said. “He has taken ownership of the clubhouse facilities and staff. He is professional, accessible friendly, and involved.”

Club Manager of the Year – Rheanne Kinney, Wakonda Club
Rheanne Kinney, of Wakonda Club, has been named the IGA’s 2023 Club Manager of the Year.

Kinney, in her fifth year as General Manager at Wakonda Club, has made immediate and outstanding impacts by managing the leadership team, overseeing finances, coordinating the Board of Directors, and much more. Kinney also serves as a liaison with the Principal Charity Classic.

“(Her) duties and dedication have no end and her passion for others and desire to see Wakonda grow are unmatched,” Aaron Krueger, PGA, Director of Golf, Wakonda Club said.

Communication during the course restoration at Wakonda Club and continued engagement have been priorities for Kinney, including weekly updates to the membership on the project and detailing different aspects of the full restoration.

“She pours so much into Wakonda Club,” Krueger said. “She supports Wakonda staff to get involved in their professional organizations and pursue continued education in their field.”

Wakonda Club member Melinda Ruperto also had high praise for Kinney.

“Her skill set has provided immensely valuable during this demanding year,” Ruperto said. “Rheanna is rare in her understanding of accounting and attention to financial detail in addition to the numerous responsibilities of a manager.”

NOTE – The IGA Annual Awards Banquet is scheduled for  Friday, December 8, at Terrace Hills Golf Course in Altoona. We will communicate a schedule of events to the public, including the price to attend very soon. 

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