Month: July 2023

Ryder Cup Captain Johnson and Walker Cup Captain McCoy make significant pledges to Golf House Iowa

The Iowa Golf Association gave Mike McCoy and Zach Johnson an opportunity to chase their dreams. Now they’re returning the favor.

Both McCoy, the 2023 Walker Cup captain, and Johnson, the 2023 Ryder Cup captain, have made six-figure donations to Golf House Iowa. The facility, being built next to Echo Valley Country Club in Norwalk, will also be home to the Iowa Golf Course Superintendents Association, First Tee – Central Iowa and other IGA initiatives, such as the Youth on Course program. The Iowa Golf Hall of Fame and Museum will be housed there as well. Golf House Iowa is expected to open next spring. A $5 million fundraising campaign is nearing the finish line.

“I did it for two reasons,” McCoy said of his donation. “One, I attribute a lot of good things that have happened in my life to Iowa golf. Just the friends I’ve made, the memories I’ve made, and the doors it’s opened for me. I felt like I owed something. It was a way for me to give back for all the good things that have happened to me.”

Johnson fondly recalls cutting his golfing teeth playing the deep and competitive amateur schedule that is an Iowa tradition.

“I don’t know what it’s like in other states, but we were extremely fortunate,” Johnson said. ”The circuit was amazing. The beauty of it is you’ve got great competition on good golf courses, which is No. 1. That’s what you want, to play and compete. Whether you’re talking about the Iowa Amateur, or the Carroll Amateur, or the Iowa Open, the Waterloo Open, the Sani, which is one of my favorites, whatever it might be.”

Johnson thinks back fondly to his days as an amateur, trying to get better. He remembers the camaraderie with fellow players at every tournament, whether they were helping each other on the range, competing in putting contests or grabbing a bite to eat.

“It was a nomadic little mini-tour,” Johnson said. “I loved it. Most of us would get drummed by Gene Elliott and Mike McCoy. That was pretty par for the course.”

When Johnson speaks at his annual foundation event in Cedar Rapids, he’s reminded again of his golfing past.

Johnson was 10 years old when he got started in Larry Gladson’s junior program at Elmcrest Country Club in Cedar Rapids. When he turned professional, many of his sponsors were Elmcrest members.

“These were the individuals that gave me everything to pursue one of my dreams,” he said.

“But you also had to have an outlet to go and compete as an amateur. They go hand in hand. You can’t do it alone.”

Like McCoy, Johnson views his donation as a way of giving back.

“Then you couple that with the youth in the game, which is what Golf House Iowa is about and something I have a massive affinity for,” Johnson added. “And the golf course superintendents, I just love them. I love how these guys work. There’s more than one entity going into that building. But the beauty is it’s called Golf House Iowa. Because it takes more than one entity to make golf great in the state. And I think that’s awesome.”

McCoy has traveled the country, both as an insurance executive and a golfer. He appreciates where he comes from. And he sees Golf House Iowa as an important step in moving the game forward.

 “It’s just going to put Iowa golf on more solid footing,” McCoy said.


Hoyle cruises to 121st Iowa Amateur title

It was smooth sailing for Coralville’s Charlie Hoyle’s final round as he captured the 121st Iowa Amateur Championship title at Glen Oaks Country Club. At the very least, that’s what it looked like as he rolled in a bomb of a putt on his finishing hole to clench his six-stroke victory in fashion.

Hoyle (pictured above) never checked the leaderboard.

“Looking at the leaderboard won’t change anything,” Hoyle believed.

The Lytham, England native admitted that he had a sense that he had a few strokes of cushion.

“It was really hot, but there weren’t many people out there,” Hoyle confided, smiling. There’s more than one way to get a feel for the standings.

With one bogey on the front and four birdies on the back, Hoyle was never in danger of losing his position. He was propelled by a tournament-low second round (-7) 64 where he birdied #17, the hardest hole on the course, and finished birdie, eagle on #8 and #9. Hoyle finished the tournament at an even (-13) 200.

His biggest focus throughout the day? Staying fed and hydrated. “I couldn’t drink enough water today,” he said. Temperatures in the high 90s and unrelenting humidity that pushed the “feels like” well above 100, created a mental battlefield of its own. Several spectators resorted to finding shelter in the clubhouse due to the heat. There was some added strategy, though. While some players turned to rain gloves, Hoyle’s rotation of four gloves helped him to keep a grip on the club. It pays to be prepared.

After a slow one-over par first nine, a great birdie on #10 kickstarted Hoyle’s round. He pulled his driver into the left fairway bunker. 107 yards to the pin, he stuck it to eight feet, and found his first birdie of the round. More than anything, it was his terrific putting that set him apart from the field.

The biggest threat to Hoyle was, happily for Hoyle, one of his newest additions to the Hawkeye golf team, Cedar Falls’ Maxwell Tjoa. The previous IGA Boys’ Player of the Year and rising Iowa freshman showcased his ability in a leading pack saturated with collegiate golfers. Tjoa, who finished second at (-7) 206, was followed by Cedar Falls’ Owen Sawyer (soon to be Cyclone freshman) in third, Norwalk’s Dennis Bull and Waverly’s Hogan Hansen (rising Hawkeye sophomore) tied for fourth, and Ames’ Zach May (rising Cyclone sophomore) in sixth.

“I wasn’t really watching [the leaderboard],” Tjoa shared after the round, “I was just aiming at pins, really acting like I had nothing to lose.”

A competitive mindset considering that he entered the final round sitting at third place. Regardless, it paid off as four birdies and two bogeys carried him to a (-2) 69 and the runner-up title.

Tjoa entered the tournament with confidence, having played Glen Oaks several times in the past and always performing well. A strong short game and solid iron play were the keys to his success.

“I didn’t miss a lot of greens, and when I did I was able to get up and down,” Tjoa said. “With his go-for-it mentality, he focused on getting every putt to the hole and “giving [himself] a chance.”

It was a good day for the Hawkeyes.

Click here for full results

View photo gallery from the event

Hoyle takes charge, leads 121st Iowa Amateur at Glen Oaks CC

Nothing was easy at Glen Oaks Country Club in the second round of the 121st Iowa Amateur Championship. A hot and stuffy morning gave way to a cloudy yet breezy afternoon, bringing temperature relief but elevating the challenge.

Overall, scores rose. Only thirteen competitors finished the round under par. As with the first round, Holes 17 and 18 were played the most over par with Hole 5 not far behind. Only eleven players remain below par after the second round.

Despite the difficulty, some competitors still made it look easy. Coralville’s Charlie Hoyle takes the lead with a stellar (-7) 64, outdoing previous leader Owen Sawyer, of Cedar Falls, who fired an impressive (-5) 66. Hoyle stands at -10 and Sawyer stands at -9 heading into the final round.

For Hoyle, understanding greens and ‘where you can miss’ are crucial to succeeding on a new course. This week has been Hoyle’s first time at Glen Oaks, but paying attention to ridges and tiers has helped him to secure birdie positions throughout the first two rounds.

“Making sure you’re on the correct level of those greens,” was a key factor in choosing approach shots and managing the large greens, Hoyle said.

Cedar Falls’ Maxwell Tjoa did his best to stick with the leaders with a (-4) 67. He stands third with -5. Waverly’s Hogan Hansen comes in fourth at -4, followed by Norwalk’s Dennis Bull in fifth at -3.

Hoyle, who is an assistant golf coach at the University of Iowa, doesn’t get the chance to play competitively as often as he used to. He looks forward to a final pairing with Cyclone commit Owen Sawyer. The pair will attempt to fend off Hawkeye sophomore Hogan Hansen and Hawkeye commit Maxwell Tjoa — and several seasoned players close behind — as they battle it out during the final round.

Click here for full results

Olson, Sawyer set the pace at 121st Iowa Amateur with 67

The first round of the 121st Iowa Amateur Championship was contested at Glen Oaks Country Club on Monday, July 24, just as Iowa’s typical summer heat returned from its mysterious vacation.

A sunny day with a high of 92 degrees only added to the difficulty of the beautiful course. Although the heat prevented the greens from rolling at their typical speed since care was taken to protect the grass in the high temperatures, the greens remained challenging. There was little wind to push balls wayward, yet fescue and penalty areas still saw heavy traffic.

Ankeny’s Jon Olson and Cedar Falls’ Owen Sawyer lead the field at (-4) 67. Sawyer continues his hot streak after winning the amateur division of the Waterloo Open last Sunday. In close pursuit are Coralville’s Charlie Hoyle, Norwalk’s Dennis Bull, and Waverly’s Hogan Hansen with rounds of (-3) 68. Ames’ Zach May comes in at sixth with a (-2) 69.

As expected, holes 17 and 18 played the most over par today, and it wasn’t even close. The penalty-lined holes ate up tee shots left and right, and the sloping greens left little to chance. Par 4 #17 averaged 4.95, and Par 4 #18 averaged 4.80 on the day. And the next hardest hole? The Par 4 #6 at 4.53.

Eighteen players sit at even-par or better on the day. We look forward to two more days of competition as things begin to heat up. Just take a peek at the forecast…

Click here for full results

Brown wins 2023 Waterloo Open in playoff, Meyer snags Amateur Division

The 2023 Waterloo Open was contested over Thursday, July 20 through Sunday, July 23 in Waterloo. The Pro-Am was played July 20 at Irv Warren, the first two rounds of the Professional Division were played over July 21 and July 22 at Gates Park and South Hills, respectively, and final rounds were played on July 23 again at Irv Warren for those who made the cut.

In the Professional Division, which was contested over three rounds, Evan Brown of Chadds Ford, PA won after a two-hole playoff in which he beat Harry Hillier of Overland Park, KS. The two contestants shot (-21) 195. Michael Visacki from Sarasota, FL and Kelly Harper from Greenville, SC tied for third at (-20) 196.

Des Moines’ Trip Kinney led the Iowans in the Professional Division, placing T15 with a (-16) 200.

In the Open Amateur division, which was contested over three rounds, Cedar Falls’ Owen Sawyer claimed a four-stroke victory at (-14) 202. Cedar Falls’ Luke Meyer finished second with (-10) 206. Glenn Walls, from Harrisburg, SD, finished third with (-8) 208.

In the Senior Amateur division, Derek Hileman of Grain Valley, MO, Jeff Wachter of Asbury, and Joe Bates of Albia tied for first at (-1) 143.

In the Super Senior Amateur flight, West Des Moines’ Bob Brooks won handily by 18 strokes over the field, finishing with (-3) 213.

Click here for full results

Imsland, Kerrigan win IGA Women’s Mid-Am Series Event at Carroll CC

From left – Laura Leszczynski, Leighann Larocca, Christi Imsland and Karli Kerrigan.

The second event of the IGA Women’s Mid-Am Series was contested on Saturday, July 22 at Carroll Country Club, Carroll. The shamble tournament, with gross best ball and net four ball prizes, was won by the side of Karli Kerrigan and Christi Imsland. The team fired a gross and net (-8) 63, winning the gross tournament by three strokes and tying for the lead in the net tournament.

The teams of Rose Kubesheski and Michelle Klein and Laura Leszczynski and Leighann Larocca also shared the lead in the net tournament. Kubesheski and Klein placed second in the gross tournament at (-5) 66, winning the tiebreaker over Fiona Watson and Tish Boothe who also carded (-5) 66.

Click here for full results

Hanna makes final round charge, wins 99th Iowa Women’s Amateur

Undecided until the final hole, the 99th Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship at Finkbine Golf Course, Iowa City, was a nail-biter. The leaderboard was in constant flux, with five players exchanging the lead throughout the round. In the end, the Hawkeye sophomore Kaitlyn Hanna (above) had the last laugh, walking away with a home course victory on Iowa golf’s biggest amateur stage.

Hanna fired a final round (-1) 71, tying the lowest round of the tournament, to trump a four-stroke deficit and win by one. Playing in the penultimate pairing, her dad was the one to break the good news to her.

After a great summer working with her coaches, “It was great to cap it off with a win,” Hanna admitted.

Despite live scoring, the Omaha, NE native played her round unaware of her standing in the mix. She focused on her own execution, keeping the ball below the pin and aiming for the center of the green each approach.

It wasn’t easy, however.

Hanna found herself in the rough short-right of the green on her final hole, with only a few yards of firm green to work with. Even among the final pairings there were numerous players who fell victim to that very same rough. With the tournament on the line and spectators watching, an excellent chip left Hanna with a tap-in par and a (+6) 222 total. Her short-game, which she considers her forte, was on full display when it mattered most.

Marshalltown’s Amber Henson entered the final hole tied for the lead, but ended up short-sided in the rough. Being pin-high, she had less green than Hanna had, and was unable to convert the difficult up-and-down. Henson finished runner-up at (+7) 223 after her bogey on Hole 18.

At the day’s break, Cedar Falls’ Hannah Bermel, Ames’ Eden Lohrbach, and Henson led the field. But during the round, Dubuque’s Breanna Felderman showed her strength, playing 1-under through the first thirteen holes and claiming a narrow lead. Yet a disastrous +7 finishing stretch in her final five holes removed her from the conversation. She finished tied fifth with Bettendorf’s Maura Peters at (+13) 229.

Bermel, struggling to close out on the greens, also fell to Finkbine’s final five holes, which she played +6. She finished fourth at (+12) 228. Despite netting just one birdie, Lohrbach managed to squeeze by the tail-end gauntlet 2-over and was rewarded with a third place finish.

Not to miss out on the excitement, the Open Division was up for grabs as well. Dubuque’s Rose Kubesheski finished third at (+32) 248, only one stroke away from Waterloo’s Kelly Nelson and Des Moines’ Tish Boothe (right), who headed to a playoff after carding (+31) 247. Boothe, who had not played a solo event since a local tournament in 2011, won after one hole. Boothe’s dramatic return to the Iowa golf scene sparks anticipation for her next appearance.

The championship was a testament to the difficulty of competing at a high level and the strength of women’s golf in this state. The IGA looks forward to next year’s centennial 100th Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship at Sunnyside Golf and Country Club, the host of the inaugural Women’s Amateur Championship over a century ago.

Click here for full results

Click here to view photo album of 99th Iowa Women’s Amateur

Bermel takes lead into final round of 99th Iowa Women’s Amateur

The haze lifted for the second round of the 99th Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship at Finkbine Golf Course on Monday, July 17.

In the Championship Division, Cedar Falls’ Hannah Bermel (above) took the solo lead with a (+2) 74, totaling +3 over the first two days. She’s followed by Ames’ Eden Lohrbach, who fired a (+4) 76 and stands at +5 over the tournament. Marshalltown’s Amber Henson moved into third place with a (+2) 74, totaling +6.

Dubuque’s Breanna Felderman scored the lowest round of the tournament thus far, a (-1) 71, moving her into a tie for fourth place with the at-home Hawkeye, Kaitlyn Hanna. The two players are tied at +7 heading into the third day.

In the Open Division, Des Moines’ Tish Boothe (right) keeps her position on top of the leaderboard at +19, but only holds a one-stroke lead over Waterloo’s Kelly Nelson. Nelson carded a (+8) 80 in her second round to climb into second at +20 on the tournament.

Dubuque’s Rose Kubesheski is not far behind at +23. Stuart’s Janice Schwarzkopf, in fourth at +24, and Jesup’s Michelle Klein and Hiawatha’s Jody Neuhaus, tied for fifth at +25, are within striking distance for the final round.

Bermel and Boothe will attempt to finish wire-to-wire wins, but with the way Finkbine Golf Course has been playing— tough greens and firm conditions — anything can happen during the final round.

In the Cross-Division Team Four-Ball, a net tournament with randomly selected teams mixing up the divisions, a three-way tie for first between the teams of Isabella Steele and Kelly Grimes, Emersen Motl and Jody Neuhaus, and Anna Nacos and Sani Hansen at -15 lead the way.

Round 3 play tees off at 9 a.m., on Tuesday morning.

Follow along with live scoring here

Three tied at the top of 99th Iowa Women’s Amateur leadboard

The first round of the 99th Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship played under hazy skies at Finkbine Golf Course. The 88 Championship and Open Division players (55 Championship players and 33 Open players) comprised the largest field in recent history.

Blazing fast speeds and tricky greens made for difficult putting, especially through the afternoon as greens firmed up. The back nine, including the iconic over the water Par 3, Hole 13, proved itself to be the most challenging stretch of the course. However, Par 4 Hole 14 was the most difficult hole of the day, playing 1.38 strokes over par on average. It was the only hole on the course that did not let in a birdie. Instead, it totaled 25 double bogeys, the most by far of any hole during the first round.

The Championship Division is led by Cedar Fall’s Hannah Bermel, Ames’ Eden Lohrbach, and Washington’s Kiki Bruner, all tied at (+3) 75. The Open Division is led by Des Moines’ Tish Boothe at (+4) 76.

Round two play tees off at 9 a.m., on Monday, July 17.

Follow along with live scoring here

Smith, Bull advance to U.S. Amateur following long day at Coldwater Golf Links

West Des Moines’ Grant Smith (right) and Norwalk’s Dennis Bull qualified for the 123rd U.S. Amateur to be contested at Cherry Hills Country Club, Colorado. Smith was medalist outright at (-3) 139, while Bull (-2) qualified after a four-way playoff which took three holes to be decided.

The qualifier, contested at Coldwater Golf Links, Ames, featured golfers from numerous states. Whippy morning winds and firm conditions made for some of the most difficult play Coldwater has seen, evoking comparisons by a player to the Scottish links, and the grueling 36 holes tested competitors’ stamina.

Smith carded a first round (-1) 70 to keep himself in the mix. Most importantly, he felt comfortable with his shot selections going into the afternoon, despite the strong winds.

“I hit the right shots the first round, just didn’t make as many putts,” Smith said, explaining how he hit an 8 iron when 210 yards out on Hole 7 before subsequently hitting an 8 iron when 120 yards out on Hole 8. “Strategy was a big part [of my success]. I kept the ball in front of me and kept shots around the green going into the wind.”

In the afternoon, strong putting helped Smith to a superb 4-under first nine, helping him to finish -2 on the round and -3 on the day.

Smith commented he is excited to head to Colorado to compete in his first U.S. Amateur.

On the other hand, this was not Dennis Bull’s (right) first rodeo. Having qualified for the U.S. Amateur the previous two years, his experience showed when the second qualifying spot came down to a four person playoff. Ottumwa’s Cale Leonard, West Des Moines’ Braeden Nelson, and Clive’s Ryan Horner joined Bull in the four-for-one playoff, as if 36 holes wasn’t enough for the day. After Nelson and Horner were eliminated on the first playoff hole, Bull and Leonard tied on the second playoff hole, but Bull won decisively with a birdie on the third hole.

While happy to advance, Bull was more than ready to call it a day.

“Don’t make me walk too far,” he warned as we headed to take his photograph.

Bull will join Smith at Cherry Hills for his third straight U.S. Amateur.

Click here for full results

Scroll to top