Month: March 2023

USGA Announces Amateur Championship Qualifying Modifications

Changes to U.S. Amateur, U.S. Women’s Amateur, U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior qualifying will be introduced in 2024

In an effort to continuously enhance and evolve the competitor experience, the USGA is announcing significant modifications to its amateur championship qualifying model for the first time in more than 20 years. These changes, which will take effect for the organization’s four premier amateur championships beginning in 2024, will allow the events to retain their openness while ensuring that high-caliber players are provided ample opportunity to earn a spot in the field and that qualifying can be conducted at the highest level among growing entries and field sizes.

“The openness and aspirational nature of our championships is a defining characteristic of USGA championships,” said Brent Paladino, senior director, Championship Administration. “As the number of entries and qualifying sites have continued to increase on a yearly basis, we looked at ways to evolve our structure to ensure the long-term sustainability of qualifying without excessively burdening Allied Golf Associations (AGAs) and host clubs. These revisions will provide players with additional pathways to our championships through traditional qualifying, expanded exemption categories and performance in state, AGA, regional and national amateur championships.”

In 2022, the USGA accepted 44,737 total entries and collaborated with AGAs to conduct a combined 678 qualifiers across 15 championships.

The most significant revisions for 2024 are to the U.S. Amateur, which will move from a one-stage, 36-hole qualifying format to a two-stage qualifying format with 45 18-hole local qualifying sites and 19 18-hole final qualifying sites. Other adjustments include:

  • Exemptions for state, AGA, regional and national amateur champions based on established criteria and historical WAGR event power rankings;
  • Expansion of World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR) exemption category to top 100 ranked players (previously 50);
  • Establishment of local exemptions, which include top finishers in USGA championships, state/AGA amateur championships and top 600 WAGR players.

Changes to the other championships’ qualifying structures are outlined below:

U.S. Women’s Amateur 

  • Modest reduction in qualifying sites through the establishment of geographic rotations;
  • Exemptions for state, AGA, regional and national amateur champions based on established criteria and historical WAGR event power rankings;
  • Expansion of WAGR exemption category to top 50 players (previously 25).


U.S. Junior Amateur / U.S. Girls’ Junior 

  • Alignment of qualifying structure to encourage AGAs to conduct joint or concurrent qualifying;
  • Exemptions for state, AGA, regional and national junior amateur champions based on established criteria and historical WAGR event power rankings;
  • U.S. Junior Am expansion of WAGR age-filtered exemption category to top 100 (previously 85);
  • U.S. Girls’ Junior expansion of WAGR age-filtered exemption category to top 50 (previously 40).

There will also be a lowering of Handicap Index® limits across all four championships and modifications to the performance policy that will be announced later. Determinations on the individual state, AGA, regional and national championships that will be part of the 2024 exemption criteria will be published prior to the release of entries for the respective championship.

The modifications will result in a net reduction of 94 qualifying sites, while providing more opportunities for players to earn a spot in a USGA championship through expanded exemptions, state/AGA amateur championships and traditional qualifying.

Entries for 2024 USGA amateur championships will open next spring. The 2024 U.S. Amateur will be held at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.; the 2024 U.S. Women’s Amateur will be held at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.; while the 2024 Junior Amateur will be held at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; and the 2024 Girls’ Junior will be played at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, Calif.

IGA member courses beginning to open

The following IGA Member Courses have communicated they either are or will be open:

-AH Blank Golf Course (Des Moines) – Currently open
-Amana Colonies Golf Club (Amana) – Hope to open Friday, March 31, at the latest, hopefully sooner if conditions firm up.
-Bright Grandview Golf Course (Des Moines) – Currently open
-Buena Vista University Golf Course at Lake Creek (Storm Lake) – Goal as of right now is to be open April 1, walking only until April 8.
-Cedar Creek Golf Course (Ottumwa) – Open with carts, greens have been mowed twice. Spring Rates ($22.00 pp includes 1/2 cart) will prevail until April 1.
-Coldwater Golf Link (Ames) – Plan to open April 1.
-Copper Creek Golf Course (Pleasant Hill) – Plan to open Wednesday, March 22. Tee times will range from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the time being. Course will remain open as weather permits. Additionally instructions such as cart path only and 90 degree rule will be provided for golfers at check in.
Finkbine Golf Course (Iowa City) – Plans to open Friday, March 24.
-Gardner Golf Course (Cedar Rapids) – Opens Wednesday, March 22. Tee times available, carts limited.
-Griswold Golf & CC (Griswold) – Planning to open March 29.
-Harvest Point Golf Course (Oskaloosa) – Open with carts available for rent. Will be open for the remainder of the season. Tee times are always recommended as they work with lots of high school and college teams. Please call before traveling – 641-673-5120.
-Highland Park Golf Course (Mason City) – Planning on opening the March 31, depending on weather of course. Tee times all 7 days of the week and currently 8 a.m., to sunset are our hours of operation
-Jester Park Golf Course (Granger) – Currently open
-Majestic Hill Golf Course (Denison) – Open 11 a.m., each day weather dependent.
-Prairie Links (Waverly) – Will be opening on Wednesday, March 22, at 11 a.m. The plan is to be open everyday, weather permitting. Greens fee with cart is $40 through April 14. Tee times are available at or by calling 319-242-7675.
Rice Lake Golf & Country Club (Rice Lake) – Plan to open Saturday, April 8.
River Valley Golf Course (Adel) – Planning on opening March 30, weather permitting. Discounted rates will be utilized through April.
-Sandburr Run (Thomson, IL) – Currently open – 7 a.m. to dark
-Terrace Hills Golf Course (Altoona) – Currently open
-The Legacy Golf Club (Norwalk) – Currently open and hope to stay open indefinitely. Shoulder Season Rates are in effect through Thursday, April 6. Reservations can be made online. Carts are currently restricted to the paths only. The driving range is currently not open, but hoping it will be soon.
-Tournament Club of Iowa (Polk City) – Hope to open Friday, March 31, at the latest, hopefully sooner if conditions firm up.
-Twin Pine Golf Course (Cedar Rapids) – Opens Tuesday, March 21. Tee times available, carts limited.
-Valley Oaks Golf Course (Clinton) – Open with carts. Spring rates apply – No tee times til April.
-Veenker Memorial Golf Course (Ames) – Will be opening for the season starting this Friday, March 24.
-Veterans Memorial Golf Club (Clear Lake) – Is open for walking to start.
-Wandering Creek Golf Club (Marshalltown) – Opening March 22, at 11 a.m. with carts
-Waveland Golf Course (Des Moines) – Currently open
-Westwood Golf Course (Newton) – Currently open

** Note – Private Clubs are not listed **

Click here for more information on all of our member courses.

Be sure to check back for updates to this list!

Feel free to email [email protected] with
updates to your course/facility opening this year!

‘Up and Down’ the Iowa Golf Scene – Pettersen sets sights high

Bella Pettersen Overcomes Adversity on Her Way to the Summit of Girls Golf in Iowa

Bella was all smiles after capturing the Iowa Junior Girls 2022 Championship by 11 strokes.

For North Liberty golfer extraordinaire Bella Pettersen (right), the challenges of playing at a high-level begin far before she reaches the golf course. The 2022 Iowa Golf Association Junior Girls Player of the Year is afflicted with a rare condition called juvenile enthesitis arthritis.

The disease, which first struck the 17-year-old in middle school, causes inflammation of joints which leads to pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of motion in the areas where tendons and ligaments connect to bone.

“The condition affects your walking, sitting and standing, and that’s before you try to swing a golf club,” said Pettersen, during a recent telephone interview with Up and Down the Iowa Golf Scene.

“I’ve tried just about everything – from taking three baths a day, to every medication possible, cortisone shots, using a trainer, to even a chemotherapy drug used by cancer patients,” she said.

Pettersen is currently taking an infusion to provide some relief to the condition that impacts her ability to practice or even walk the golf course. Later this year, Pettersen is scheduled for a special surgical procedure on her hips that is being counted on to alleviate the chronic condition and allow full pursuit of future golf dreams.Physical ailments aside, Pettersen is focused this spring on setting new goals and achieving new heights to add to an already well decorated golf resume. Two years ago, Bella burst onto the Iowa girls prep golf scene when the Mike and Debbie Pettersen family relocated to North Liberty from Fountain Hills, AZ. As a freshman at Iowa City Liberty, she won nearly every event, earned Mississippi Valley Conference player of the year honors and qualified for the Class 4A state tournament at Otter Creek in Ankeny, where a pair of 71’s parlayed into a third-place finish in the medalist standings. Last spring, she was equally dominating, repeating as conference player of the year and shot a 36-hole score of 149 to again finish third in the state meet medalist race.

“I love winning,” said Pettersen, who was introduced to the game by her older sister, Madasyn and started playing golf at age three.

She played in her first tournament, the Girls Classic in Rockford, IL, before she reached the age of five. That tournament, a four-hole event, would be the launch of a junior golf career that has spanned three states and competition at the local, state, regional and national levels. The well-seasoned high school prep has competed and won titles sponsored by the Illinois Junior Golf Association, Junior Golf Association of Arizona, Iowa PGA Section and the Iowa Golf Association. But her biggest thrill to date came last summer at the American Junior Golf Association’s (AJGA) Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship played at Buffalo Ridge Golf Course in Hollister, MO. Pettersen fired a 72 to win the qualifier and gain entry into the tournament, where rounds of 76-75-70 gave her a 54-hole of 221 and earned a fourth-place finish on a national stage.

“It was a great thrill to play so well in such a big event,” said Pettersen, who noted that her arthritis was kept in check to play four straight days of competition on a challenging course.

That tournament capped off a remarkable 2022 season for Pettersen, whose standout performance earned her the Iowa Golf Association’s Girls’ Player of the Year honors. Bella captured the Iowa Junior Girls’ Amateur championship in runaway fashion with an 11-stroke victory by shooting a 54-hole total of 223 at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City. She teamed up with Addison Berg of Swisher to capture the IGA’s Four-Ball title in dominating fashion at Veenker in Ames. Pettersen also finished third in the Iowa Girls’ Junior PGA tournament and seventh in the Iowa Women’s Amateur.

Sisters Madasyn and Bella Pettersen have both battled Juvenile Arthritis throughout their golf careers.

“I’m competitive by nature,” said Bella, who combines hard work, grit, determination and desire as attributes to fuel her performance on the course and as she battles her condition. “I’m driven to succeed but have to balance my health with my golf. I can’t beat balls on the range like other players but that’s allowed me to put tons of work on my short game. “

Bella also draws inspiration from her older sister, Madasyn, whose promising golf career was cut short by a similar arthritis condition. Madasyn was a junior girls’ golf prodigy in Illinois, becoming the youngest player to win the Illinois Women’s Open in 2015 at age 15. She also became the youngest player to qualify for that tournament at age 10, holds the record for most Illinois Junior Golf Association championships with 15 and at one time was ranked 50th worldwide as a junior player. As her condition worsened, Madasyn’s Division I golf career was curtailed. Today, she is a process engineer for the Iowa City-based pulp and paper manufacturer Loparex.

Looking ahead to the 2023 season, Bella has higher aspirations.

“I exceeded all of my goals in 2022 and will be setting them higher this year,” she said.

Looking down the road further, Bella would like to play Division I golf and a dream goal would be playing professionally. For now, she’s enjoying high school, taking college-level courses at Kirkwood Community College, working part-time at Plato’s Closet in Coralville and plans for a career as an anesthesiologist. She also offers the following advice for those who are battling disabilities and other conditions.

“You have to learn that it’s ok not to be ok,” she said. “Find something you love, work hard and stay with it. You can still do amazing things.”

North Liberty’s Bella Pettersen burst upon the Iowa Girls Golf scene in 2021 and is now setting higher goals after being named the IGA’s Girls Player of the Year in 2022.

“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.

Click the links below to read previous Up and Down features
– IGA Rules Official Sean Flanders
– R&A, USGA Champion Gene Elliott
– Nervig Reflects on Decades of Service to The Iowa Masters
Arseneault Finds Fulfillment in Life’s Next Chapter After Competitive Golf
Ivan Miller remembers the days of the Minnows
Kinney adjusts to life on tour
Standard Golf’s roots run deep

USGA to offer free Rules of Golf webinars

Denny Samuelson

With golf season starting to open around the country, the USGA rules team would like to provide IGA members with two free rules of golf workshops. These workshops will cover two of the most widely used rules golfers come across every day, free relief and penalty relief. These beginner workshops will be taught by two senior members of the USGA Rules team in Ben Schade and Kathryn Belanger.

Free Webinar Schedule

Wednesday, March 15, at 4:30 PM CDT – Free Relief (taught by Kathryn Belanger)
Registration URL –

Wednesday, March 22, at 2:00 PM CDT – Penalty Relief (taught by Ben Schade)
Registration URL –

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