Month: September 2023

Team IGA takes lead into Single matches at 56th Iowa Cup

Team Iowa Golf Association took control following lunch on Thursday and will a five point lead, 12.5 – 7.5, into tomorrow Singles matches at the 56th Iowa Cup hosted by Hyperion Field Club.

Following a 5.5 – 4.5 lead by Team Iowa Section PGA after morning Four-Ball matches, the amateurs won a total of eight points, of a possible 10, in the afternoon Foursome session.

“It’s hard not to play well at Hyperion Field Club,” Ethan Mechling, who was on the winning side of both his matches on Thursday, said. “We (Team IGA) loves this place and it showed today, especially in the afternoon Foursomes session.”

Tee times will begin Friday morning at 8 a.m., with a total of 20 points up for grabs to decide the match.

Click here for full results

Did you know – Ryder Cup has connection to Iowa, Wakonda Club

Zach Johnson (pictured above) will be carrying the flag for the United States, as well as his home state of Iowa, as captain of the United States team at the Ryder Cup this weekend in Rome, Italy.

A native of Cedar Rapids and member of the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame, a five-time Ryder Cup player and two-time major champion, Johnson hopes to experience winning the Ryder Cup as a player and captain.

There’s an Iowa connection to that Ryder Cup trophy. It’s a story that starts in 1922, when the Wakonda Club in Des Moines hosted an exhibition to show off its new golf course. Two of Great Britain’s best players, George Duncan and Abe Mitchell, played a match against Wakonda pro Jack Welsh and James Hubbell of Des Moines, the 1916 NCAA champion from Harvard.

Tickets were $1 “to help defray the expense of bringing the star golfers here,” the Des Moines Register reported.

Duncan, the 1920 Open Champion, and Mitchell beat Welsh and Hubbell, 3 and 1. Duncan was medalist with a 75.

“Both Duncan and Mitchell stated that (Wakonda) is a real test of golf throughout,” the Register reported.

American Walter Hagen played Wakonda in an exhibition shortly after Duncan and Mitchell’s appearance, and also shot 75. Hagen’s round was considered the course record because Duncan hadn’t putted out on every hole.

A dozen years before Mitchell came to Des Moines, he was hired by Samuel Ryder to be his personal golf instructor. Ryder, a seed merchant and workaholic, was advised by his doctor to take up the game after he had fallen ill. With Mitchell offering a helping hand, Ryder became obsessed with the game and soon had a single-digit handicap.

According to “Draw in the Dunes,” Neil Sabebiel’s book on the 1969 Ryder Cup, Ryder had witnessed a friendly match between teams of American and British stars in 1926. The Americans, including Hagen and Tommy Armour, were there to play in the Open championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

The British team, which included Duncan and Mitchell, easily won that 1926 match. Ryder wondered why a competition like this could not take place in the future. Over tea, Ryder, Duncan, Mitchell, Hagen and others put together a plan to make it happen.

They decided to call it the Ryder Cup since Samuel Ryder donated the money to pay for the trophy.On top of the gold chalice is a likeness of Mitchell, Ryder’s way of saying thanks for his personal instruction.

“Putting me on top of the cup is more distinction than I could ever earn,” Mitchell said.

The inaugural Ryder Cup was contested on June 3-4, 1927, at Worchester Country Club in Worchester, Mass.

Both Mitchell and Duncan played on three Ryder Cup teams. Duncan was a player-captain in 1929, when his team won.

Many years later, Johnson played the Wakonda Club many times as a member of Drake’s golf team. And now he’d like to bring that Ryder Cup trophy, Mitchell’s likeness included, back with him to the United States.

Team Iowa finishes fourth at 12th Director’s Cup

It just wasn’t to be.

Team Iowa finished fourth at the 12th Director’s Cup, finishing with 12.5 points over the two-day event. Team Nebraska won the competition with 21 points at Firekeeper Golf Course in Mayetta, KS.

The goodwill competition is staged every other year and consists of round-robin Four-Ball, Foursomes and Singles matches between teams from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

The Director’s Cup Matches are a team match play competition between the top amateur golfers from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. The team match play sessions on day one consist of Four-Ball and Foursomes. Singles conclude the event on the final day. Each match uses Nassau scoring with one point awarded for each the front nine, back nine and 18-hole match. If a match is tied each team receives a 1/2 point. The team that wins the most points wins the trophy.

Iowa’s Trent Lindenman and Nate McCoy both contributed to 5.5 points of the team’s total for the event. Connie Peck (pictured above) chipped in with 4 points, including all three points in his Singles match.

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Fourth career Iowa Wife-Husband title for the Burkholders

For the fourth time Julianna and Reed Burkholder found themselves at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the Iowa Wife-Husband Championship. They had previously won the title in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

This time it took a final found 68 (-4) to pull into the lead and win by five with a 143 total (-1), to outdistance Christi and Luke Imsland. Burkholder’s final round was a clean one – four birdies and no bogeys.

“We made our putts,” Reed Burkholder said with a grin. “That’s what you have to do at this tournament.”

In the Senior Division (110 years combined) Sondra and Curtis Holck (right) were consistent – a pair of 77s around Sunnyside Country Club in Waterloo was good for a six shot win over a trio of teams, which included Nancy and Dave Olberding, Laura and Tom Christensen and Stacey and Bob Ketcham. The Olberdings closed with a round of 74 (+2) to climb close to the lead, but in the end the Holcks were just too steady.

In the Super Senior Division (130 combined years) Vicki and Brian Rodenburg rose to the top with rounds of 78-75 (+9), good enough for a three shot victory over Carroll and John Dethrow.

Click here for full results (including Flight Winners)

Thompson takes The Classic after six hole playoff, Peterson & Gaer notch wins

North Liberty’s Coby Thompson (right) claimed victory at the The Classic, held at Elmwood Country Club following six hole playoff with Cedar Fall’s Luke Meyer. The 36-hole tournament was played with Modified Stableford scoring. Both Thompson and Meyer were challenged through the opening round with totals of 33 and 35 points. Meyer finished the first round ten points behind the leader, Gilman’s Cody Weaver (43), with Thompson only slightly better at eight points back.

But terrific final rounds with totals of 48 and 46, respectively, for Meyer and Thompson, more than closed the gap. Meyer and Thompson both finished with 81 points, four points ahead of Dustin Atkinson, of Marion, in third place.

In the Senior Division, Ron Peterson, of Urbandale, eked out a one point win over Adele’s Jon Brown with 72 points. A six-point lead after a first round 41 gave Peterson a comfortable cushion for his final round. Des Moines’ Tony Newkirk finished third with 69 points.

Dave Gaer, of Des Moines, held on to prevent Marshalltown’s Rob Christensen from defending his title in the Super Senior Division. Gaer’s 69 point finish was largely thanks to a strong opening round 41, enough to compensate for a lackluster final day 28. Gaer won totaled 69 points with Christensen on his heels with 68 points and Marshalltown’s Pat Ryan and Cedar Fall’s Sam Aoessy tied for third with 63 points.

Click here for full results

Follow the 2023 Directors Cup

Team Iowa
JD Anderson, Johnston
Trent Lindenman, New Sharon
Nate McCoy, Ankeny
Ethan Mechling, Des Moines
Jon Olson, Ankeny
Connor Peck, Ankeny
The 12th Director’s Cup Matches will take place September 18-19 at Firekeeper Golf Course in Mayetta, KS. This goodwill competition is staged every other year and consists of round-robin Four-Ball, Foursomes and Singles matches between teams from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

The Director’s Cup Matches are a team match play competition between the top amateur golfers from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Prior to the event, each team assigns their players to a 1-6 position. They then compete in each match play session based on that numeric assignment with each golfer having the opportunity to play against each of the other teams and never with the same partner. The team match play sessions on day one consist of Four-Ball and Foursomes. Singles conclude the event on the final day. Each match uses Nassau scoring with one point awarded for each the front nine, back nine and 18-hole match. If a match is tied each team receives a 1/2 point. The team that wins the most points wins the trophy.

In Four-Ball Match Play, sides of two partners compete, with each player playing their own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole. A side wins a hole in the match by completing the hole in fewer strokes (including strokes made and penalty strokes). A match is won when a side leads the opponent by more holes than remain to be played.

In Foursomes Match Play, two partners compete as a side by playing one ball in alternating order on each hole. A side wins a hole in the match by completing the hole in fewer strokes (including strokes made and penalty strokes). A match is won when a side leads the opponent by more holes than remain to be played.

In Singles Match Play, a player plays directly against an opponent in a head-to-head match. A player wins a hole in the match by completing the hole in fewer strokes (including strokes made and penalty strokes). A match is won when a player leads the opponent by more holes than remain to be played.

Four-Ball Session
1 Iowa 1,2 vs. Kansas 1,2
2 Missouri 1,2 vs. Nebraska 1,2
3 Iowa 3,4 vs. Missouri 3,4
4 Kansas 3,4 vs. Nebraska 3,4
5 Iowa 5,6 vs. Nebraska 5,6
6 Kansas 5,6 vs. Missouri 5,6

Foursomes Session
1 Iowa 2,3 vs. Nebraska 2,3
2 Kansas 2,3 vs. Missouri 2,3
3 Iowa 4,5 vs. Kansas 4,5
4 Missouri 4,5 vs. Nebraska 4,5
5 Iowa 1,6 vs. Missouri 1,6
6 Kansas 1,6 vs. Nebraska 1,6

Singles Session
1 Iowa 3 vs. Kansas 3
2 Iowa 6 vs. Kansas 6
3 Missouri 3 vs. Nebraska 3
4 Missouri 6 vs. Nebraska 6
5 Iowa 2 vs. Missouri 2
6 Iowa 5 vs. Missouri 5
7 Kansas 2 vs. Nebraska 2
8 Kansas 5 vs. Nebraska 5
9 Iowa 1 vs. Nebraska 1
10 Iowa 4 vs. Nebraska 4
11 Kansas 1 vs. Missouri 1
12 Kansas 4 vs. Missouri 4

‘Up and Down’ the Iowa Golf Scene – Hard work pays off

Barb Thomas Whitehead (left) poses with daughters Emma, Sarah and husband Trent at their Phoenix home.

From Sibley to the LPGA Tour – Barb Thomas Whitehead Fulfills Her Dream

Growing up on one of Iowa’s venerable 9-hole golf courses, Barb Thomas Whitehead dreamed of one day playing the LPGA Tour. Years later, the Sibley native proved that thanks to hard work, determination, a great short game, faith and natural ability, the dreams of a small-town Iowa girl can come true.

Barb’s prodigious short game was honed as a youngster at the Sibley Golf Course.

Now 62 years of age, Whitehead recently reflected on a golf career that included distinguished achievement at the prep, collegiate and professional levels during an interview with Up and Down the Iowa Golf Scene.

“We lived two blocks away from the Sibley Golf Course,” Whitehead recalled about her early days of golf, when her parents introduced her to the game at age eight. “I’d strap clubs on my shoulder, ride my bike to the club and play until noon. In those days, the course had a rule that youngsters were required to play with an adult after 12 o’clock. I’d work on chipping and putting until an adult would show up for me to join up with.”

The Sibley course featured three par 3’s, two par 5’s, one sand trap and no driving range. An open field adjacent to the course served as the driving range where Whitehead would sharpen her ball striking skills while shagging her own practice balls.

“I played other sports, including the old six-on-six basketball format for Iowa girls, but golf was my true love,” said Whitehead. “I’d play from sunup to sundown. And after watching and being inspired by the Colgate-Dinah Shore tournament in junior high, I set my sights to play the LPGA Tour.”

Big dreams for a youngster coming from a small town and from a state that is not well known for producing touring professionals. Only a handful of native Iowans have competed on the LPGA Tour. They include Judy Kimball Simon of Sioux City, who captured three tournament victories highlighted by the 1962 LPGA Championship; Beth Bader, a Davenport native who played to the tour for ten years and amassed over a million dollars in winnings; and Waterloo’s Andy Cohn, who played the tour in the early to mid-1960’s before becoming a teaching professional. In addition, Dot Germain, who moved from Atlantic to Owensboro, KY at the age of 14, played the tour for 15 years.

Fast forward to the fall of 1983, following standout prep and collegiate careers, Whitehead’s dream of playing on the LPGA Tour suddenly came down to the final hole in the qualifying school at Sweetwater Country Club in Sugarland, TX, then home of the LPGA prior to its move to Daytona Beach. Once safely inside the cut line in the middle of her final round, the high stakes pressure mounted down the stretch.

The University of Tulsa captured the 1982 NCAA Championship, led by Barb Thomas Whitehead’s third place finish in the medalist standings.

“I started making bogies, and then a double bogey and all of a sudden the wheels are off,” recalled Whitehead. “I got to the last hole knowing I needed to make something happen. Go figure, I holed a bunker shot for a closing birdie, and qualified for the Tour on the number. Not bad for a kid who grew up on a course with one sand trap.”

Whitehead’s dramatic entry on the LPGA Tour was a springboard for an 18-year career that was highlighting with her victory at the 1995 Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open. That year, she also recorded her top finish in a major, a tie for sixth at the LPGA Championship and finished 31st on the money list. In 1996, Whitehead lost in a playoff at the State Farm Rail Classic and recorded six other top 10 finishes for her best-ever 24th ranking on the money list.

She noted the many contrasts in life on the Tour decades ago compared to today.

“The girls are playing for so much more money now, so much more exposure and pressure,” Whitehead said. “With progress comes a few negatives. It likely takes $100,000 in expenses to break even, and most players now come to the tour with ‘teams’ behind them, such as trainers, psychologists, and managers. I started my LPGA career with about $15,000 in local sponsorships.”

What a time to be alive Whitehead recalled.

“We had a special brand of camaraderie back then resembled a traveling band of gypsies” she said. “In many events, we stayed in private housing or doubled up with other players in hotels to save on expenses. During rain delays, we would gather together in the clubhouse for hours. On off days we would go to the movies or play tennis together. We played in many cities with the population ranging from 25,000 to 50,000 where we were the biggest ticket in town. There were great crowds and signs all over welcoming the LPGA and its players.”

Barb is all smiles as she hoists the trophy for capturing the 1996 Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open.

Whitehead knew there was something special in the making during her formative years when her game advanced quickly and she started to shoot par in her early teens on the Sibley course. She went on to capture the 1978 and 1979 Iowa Girls Junior and Iowa High School Girls High School golf championships and qualified for the 1979 U.S. Women’s Open, won by Luverne, MN, native Jerilyn Britz. She added the Iowa Women’s Amateur titles in 1979, 1981 and 1982. Despite a notable prep career, Whitehead flew mostly below the collegiate recruiting radar with just a handful of offers. She joined the Iowa State University Women’s Golf Team, coached by Hawarden native Joan Gearhart, and made an instant impact.

“I had a great experience at Iowa State,” said Whitehead, who was named All-American in 1980. “My decision to leave was based on wanting to give myself the best opportunity to play professionally and work on my game year-round.”

Enter The University of Tulsa, a perennial power in AIAW and NCAA women’s golf circles. She joined legendary coach Dale McNamara’s squad, a team populated with many future LPGA players. The Golden Hurricane captured the 1982 NCAA championship with Thomas finishing third in the medalist standings, as well as the AIAW title. Her teammates were the likes of future LPGA professionals Kathy Baker, Dee Dee Lasker, LuLong Hartley and Jody Rosenthal.

“Our team was so deep that we had to requalify for the next tournament if you finished outside of the top three and all five of our squad members played the tour,” she said.

While in college, Whitehead’s life would also take a dramatic turn spiritually. It was teammate Baker, who would later go on to capture the 1985 U.S. Women’s Open, who helped open a door that would change Whitehead’s life.

“Kathy came back from a Bible study and posed a question to me that I’d never heard before,” she said. “She asked if I died today, where would I spend eternity. I became a follower of Christ, and it changed the trajectory of my life.”

Her personal faith became the guidepost for many life choices, including service to others. For many years, Whitehead spearheaded pro-amateur fundraising golf events for two special charities, the Osceola Regional Health Center in Sibley (where her father was a physician) and Camp Foster at Lake Okoboji, an organization close to her heart. About a dozen LPGA professionals would join her for those events which raised tens of thousands of dollars.

Today, Whitehead resides in Phoenix, AZ area with her husband Trent and daughters Sarah and Emma. She credits the Iowa Women’s Golf Association for providing opportunities to play tournament golf and spark her competitive spirit.

She also offers younger players the following advice.

“Work hard on your short game, especially shots around the green to save strokes – a missed putt counts the same as a three-hundred-yard drive. Enjoy and respect the game and have fun.”

“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
– Pettersen sets sights high
– McCoy, Norton Put Iowa Stamp on Florida Senior Golf
Moreland Reflects on his Extraordinary Club Pro, Playing Career

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