When the Iowa PGA Section started discussions on a new three-, five- and 10-year strategic plan for the organization last December, Golf House Iowa came up.
“It became apparent that we needed to do something,” Executive Director Greg Mason said.
Those discussions included the Iowa PGA Section’s Board of Directors, the Iowa PGA Foundation’s Board of Directors and the organization’s past presidents.
Mason figured a $50,000 donation might be in the works, and maybe $100,000.
“But during those talks, a quarter of a million dollars came up,” said Mason, who has been the head of the state’s professional golfing body since 2017.
On Monday, Mason informed his members that the Iowa PGA Section would be donating $250,000 to Golf House Iowa. The donation includes naming rights to the building’s Hall of Fame meeting room.
“This is the right thing to do,” Mason said.
Golf House Iowa, currently under construction overlooking the 9th green of the Echo Valley Country Club’s Creek course in Norwalk, will be the home of the Iowa Golf Association, its programs, a museum and the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame.
“This is recognition, from an organization like the Iowa PGA Section, of what Golf House is intending to do,” said Chad Pitts, CEO and Executive Director of the Iowa Golf Association. “They understand it in a way that they made a very significant donation. The size of their donation gave us a big jump in reaching our goals.”
The Iowa Golf Association Foundation is in the home stretch of a fundraising campaign for the new facility, scheduled to open next spring. Nearly 90 percent of the $5 million goal has been raised.
“The Iowa PGA Section and the Iowa Golf Association have some unified goals, and one of them is to make golf a better game,” Pitts said. “Better for our players, the PGA pros, golf course superintendents, everyone who works with the game. Together, it makes golf’s whole ecosystem better.”
Erin Strieck, president of the Iowa PGA Section and the Iowa PGA Foundation, said her organization is proud to be a part of the rich history of Iowa golf.
“This gift is a gesture of thanks to all who have come before us and those who will follow,” said Strieck, the head golf professional at the Pinnacle Country Club in Milan, Ill. “Golf House Iowa will highlight that history through the museum, the Golf Hall of Fame and all the programs that will help enrich the game over time. We are proud to be giving this gift on behalf of our Iowa PGA members and associates and those who serve this game in partnership with the Iowa Golf Association.”
Steve Jermier, president of the Iowa Golf Association and the Iowa Golf Association Foundation, said the Iowa PGA Section’s donation came at a perfect time from a fundraising standpoint.
“For the Iowa PGA to make a contribution of this size and magnitude at this point in the campaign is just huge,” Jermier said.
He added that while the game is bigger than any one organization, the Iowa PGA Section’s donation shows that all forces are unified in one common goal.
“I’ve talked to multiple club pros from across the state who are very excited about this project, and they recognize what it’s going to do for the game, how it’s going to help grow the game and preserve the game in our state,” Jermier said. “It’s testimony to how these organizations work together. And that’s a big deal. This vote of confidence from the section just means the world to us.”
The Iowa PGA Section has been part of the PGA of America since it was founded in 1916. In the original charter, Iowa joined other Midwestern states in the Plains Section. Iowa broke off into the Nebraska Section in 1925 and became the Iowa PGA Section in 1936. The Iowa PGA Section includes part of Western Illinois.
“Both organizations (Iowa PGA Section and Iowa Golf Association) want to grow the game in Iowa and Western Illinois,” Mason said. “We just feel when we’re together, it’s going to go better.”
Mason said the Iowa PGA Section’s gift to Golf House Iowa will come from investment accounts, and member dues will not increase. The gift will be paid in annual installments through 2026.
The Iowa PGA Section operates with a three-pronged mission statement – Mission, Vision and Values. Mission represents promoting and growing the game of golf. Vision is aimed at inspiring leadership, collaboration and innovation. Values covers philanthropic endeavors to give back to the community through the game of golf.
Mason remembers one strategic meeting when those values were being discussed. He said that Ken Schall, a four-time Iowa PGA Section champion and past president (2005-07), spoke up and linked those philanthropic efforts to discussions about donating to the Golf House Iowa project.
“He said, “What can be more philanthropic than this?’ ” Mason recalled.
Mason said the donation to Golf House Iowa is part of the organization’s big-picture scorecard.
“We have bigger plans,” Mason said. “We want to increase scholarships, things like that. But this is definitely a way to lay the groundwork.”
The donation will also help honor many great professionals, past and present. This October, the four-member Iowa Golf Hall of Fame induction class will include Kevin Beard, the head professional at Otter Creek in Ankeny from 1990-2017. Beard will become the 34th current or former Iowa PGA Section member to be inducted. Beard and this year’s other three inductees – Joe Palmer, Jim Curell and Doug Dunakey – will increase the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame to 96 members.
“We’re looking to the future but we’re also honoring our past,” Mason said.