Month: November 2023

2024 IGA schedule, USGA qualifying locations announced

Sunnyside hosts 100th Women’s Amateur,
Finkbine site of Iowa Amateur and IGA Four-Ball sees change

The 2024 IGA Championship schedule is here! The schedule includes another year of wonderful IGA Member Clubs that will serve as host sites for IGA championships and USGA Qualifiers. Without the support of our member clubs this schedule would not be possible. We are thankful for all of our member clubs and especially those that step up and host events each year.

The Iowa Women’s Amateur returns to where it all started…sort of. The 100th edition will be held at Sunnyside Country Club in Waterloo for the tenth time in the history of the event.  The club hosted the first in 1922 but it was staged at the course now known as Red Carpet GC in Waterloo. Sunnyside CC constructed and opened the course where the club now operates in 1971. Sunnyside CC last hosted the Iowa Women’s Amateur in 2011, won by Kristin Paulson, Ottumwa, in record fashion. The 2024 edition will be played Mon-Wed., July 22-24. Special plans are being made to celebrate the 100th playing of the championship, including efforts to include former champions and other significant women who have impacted the game of golf in Iowa.  It will no doubt be a special week in Waterloo.

The Iowa Amateur will be held at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City from July 28-30. This will be the sixth time Finkbine GC has hosted the state’s biggest men’s amateur event, having previously hosted in 2014 (won by Nate Dunn). Qualifying events will be held again for the Iowa Amateur Championship. There will be three sites across the state prior to the championship, similar to 2023, where players who are not exempt can attempt to qualify and make the field of 132 that will compete in Iowa City. Dates and locations of those qualifiers are still to be determined but will be posted online as soon as possible.

Beginning in 2024, the champions of the Iowa Women’s Amateur, Iowa Amateur and Iowa Girls’ Junior Amateur will receive exemptions into the USGA’s respective championships (U.S. Women’s Amateur, U.S. Amateur, and U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur). These are brand new exemptions for these USGA championships, including the U.S. Junior Amateur (boys). The 3-year WAGR Power Ranking of our state championship was used to determine if our state events would qualify for an exemption and, unfortunately, Iowa narrowly missed out on an exemption for the boys’ Junior Amateur.

The IGA Four-Ball (men’s) will see change in 2024.  In past years players would designate either Open, Senior, or Super-Senior Divisions to compete in.  Now, the IGA  will host a separate Four-Ball event for Seniors and Super-Seniors in the fall.  The IGA Four-Ball Championship will still be open to everyone, but will not have divisions. This was done to accommodate more players/teams due to the increasing popularity of the championship.  Elmwood CC in Marshalltown will be the site for both events – IGA Four-Ball on May 3-4 and the Senior/SS IGA Four-Ball on Sept 17-18.

Also seeing change in 2024 will be the Iowa Senior Amateur and the IGA Senior Match Play. The two events will essentially flip dates, with the Senior Amateur being conducted in early June and the Senior Match Play happening in September. This is being done to prepare for a potential future when the winner of the Senior Amateur may receive an exemption into the U.S. Senior Amateur. Moving the date of the Iowa Senior Amateur much earlier than the USGA championship allows for that exemption (should it come to fruition) to take place with the current year.

Talons Golf in Ankeny will be the home of the men’s and women’s IGA Match Play Championships for the fifth straight year. The event will take place June 25-28. Talons Golf is a privately-owned course routed between beautiful rock-walled streams and covered bridges. An always popular venue for this event, many players, both men and women, look forward to the championship each year.

The Iowa Mid-Amateur Championship, which expanded to 54 holes in 2023 allowing top finishers to receive World Amateur Golf Ranking points, will be held at Pella’s Bos Landen, May 15-17. Bos Landen last hosted the IGA Four-Ball in 2019.  Since then, many improvements have been made to the course including bunker and tree work.  Players will certainly experience several new looks to the course since it last hosted an IGA championship.

The Herman Sani Tournament will return August 9-11, to Norwalk’s Echo Valley Country Club. Since 2013 the event has rotated between Echo Valley CC and Hyperion Field Club and continues to feature the state’s best amateur and professional golfers vying for the trophy. Players and spectators will also be able to view the newly constructed Golf House Iowa, located adjacent to the Creek Course’s #9 green. Plans are being made for a special celebration of the facility during that week – so stay tuned.

The Iowa Senior Women’s Amateur will be played at Stone Creek Golf Club in Williamsburg on August 5-6 while the Iowa Senior Amateur (Men’s) is moving to an earlier date in the calendar, June 3-5, and will be played at Bent Tree Golf Club in Council Bluffs.

In addition to the Iowa Women’s Amateur in 2024, Sunnyside CC will once again serve host to the Iowa Wife-Husband Championship, Sept. 13-15, as well.

Along with those championships listed above, the IGA will conduct events at the following venues – Glen Oaks CC (IGA Women’s Four-Ball – June 11-12), Jester Park Golf Course (Father/Son, Parent/Child – June 15-16), Coldwater Golf Links (Iowa Junior Amateur, Iowa Junior Girls Amateur – June 17-19), Indianola CC (IGA Women’s Club Team – Aug. 12), Whispering Creek GC (IGA Senior Match Play – Sept. 3-5) and newly renovated Wakonda Club (IGA Club Team – Sept 30).

The Iowa Cup Matches, Iowa Women’s Forever 39 and Women’s Mid-Am Series events dates and locations will be announced at a later time. Those updates can be found by checking back to this release.

The IGA will also conduct and administer several USGA Qualifiers throughout the state in 2023. The U.S. Amateur sees a big change in the qualifying structure in 2024, moving to two stages.  Iowa will host a Local qualifier in 2024 and then a Final qualifier in 2025. Here are the sites for this year’s qualifying events:
• Crow Valley Golf Club, Davenport – U.S. Open Local Qualifier – May 13
• Glen Oaks Country Club, West Des Moines – U.S. Amateur Local Qualifier – June 13
• Fort Dodge Country Club – U.S. Senior & Women’s Senior Amateur – July 25
• Elmcrest Country Club, Cedar Rapids – U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier – August 26

Again in 2024 the IGA will partner with Strackaline to provide options for tournament players to purchase detailed yardage books and green guides at a discounted rate.

Entries to all IGA Championships will be available in March.

Entries will be available for USGA Championships at a later date, which will be determined by the USGA and announced on their website.


‘Up and Down’ the Iowa Golf Scene – Still going strong

Cleo Brown takes a short break between groups while serving as a starter during an Iowa Golf Association event. Brown will receive the IGA’s 2023 Sean Flanders Volunteer of the Year award in December.

At 88 Years Young, Cleo Brown Remains a Fixture at the Principal Charity Classic, IGA Events

A bedrock on the PGA Champions Tour schedule since 2001, the Principal Charity Classic has experienced a number of changes over its distinguished 23-year history. Title sponsors, venues, growth of purses and rise as a premier sporting event in Des Moines are included on such a list.

But there’s been one constant throughout the tournament’s rich history. Urbandale’s Cleo Brown introduced the first threesome on the number one tee at the 2001 Allianz Championship staged at Glen Oaks Country Club. Twenty-three years later, Brown continues as the tournament’s only opening tee starter, and the personable storyteller has no plans to slow down.

Cleo Brown has developed friendships with hundreds of PGA Champions Tour players over a 23-year career as the first tee starter at the Principal Charity Classic. He ranks Bernhard Langer at the top of the list of what he calls “a true gentleman.”

Now at 88 years of age, Brown is a recognized landmark at the Principal Charity Classic.

“I go out there every year and it’s like a class reunion or family reunion,” Brown said. “The players ask me how I’m doing, how’s the family and what I’ve been up to.”

Dan Houston, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Principal and a driving force to the tournament’s rise to prominence, has been known to say, “Everybody out there knows Cleo…many of the tour pros walk right by me to say hi to Cleo. He’s the guy that runs the show.”

Principal has been the tournament’s title sponsor since 2007 and during that span, more than $53.7 million has been generated for children’s charities throughout Iowa. In 2016, the PGA Champions Tour named the event as its Tournament of the Year, and it annually generates the second highest resources for charity. The tournament has settled in at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines, host site since 2013.

“The pros love coming to Wakonda,” Brown says. “They are well-treated, the facilities are great, the galleries exceptional and the caddies are taken care of.”

Brown has developed personal relationships with hundreds of PGA Champions Tour players over the years. The game’s top stars all know Brown on a personal level. “The game of golf introduces you to so many great people, and that includes the professionals. Bernhard Langer comes to mind first. He’s such a great guy and a true gentleman.” Each year, a new crop of 50-year-olds gain status on the tour and it doesn’t take long before they all know the venerable first tee starter.

“You’re on the first tee, you get to introduce all the players and it’s the best seat in the house,” he says. “All the players tell stories and share while they are waiting to tee off.” Conversely, there are stars from yesteryear that lose their playing status or retire from competitive golf. They all are significant to Brown. “I’ve introduced players from the past like Chi Chi Rodriquez, Dave Stockton, Ben Crenshaw, Dale Douglass, Bob Murphy, Dr. Gil Morgan, Jim Thorpe and this list goes on.”

Brown has also served the Iowa Golf Association as a starter for many events in Central Iowa over the years, including the State Amateur, State Senior Amateur and the Herman Sani Tournament. In recognition of his extensive service, the IGA named Brown as its 2023 Sean Flanders Volunteer of the Year award recipient.

Longevity and stick-to-itiveness are common attributes for Brown. He retired a mere two years ago after a 64-year career in the abstract and title business. The Harlan, IA native enlisted in the Army right after the Korean War and spent 27 months stationed at Okinawa. After being discharged, he married his high school sweetheart, Katie, and the couple relocated to Des Moines where he went to work for the Independent Abstract Title company and shortly after became the owner. He sold the business more than 30 years later and stayed involved by working for two other local firms.

“You’ve got to have a purpose in life,” he said. “But the shadows were getting shorter and the golf course getting longer so I decided to retire,” he quipped.

Brown poses with Colin Montgomerie during a recent PCC event at Wakonda. Brown reminds Monty of the shot he witnessed at the 1989 Ryder Cup at The Belfry, where Montgomerie played a ball out of a flower bed and sent it sailing over the grandstands.

Despite a busy work schedule, Brown was introduced to golf in the late 1950’s, playing his first round at Waveland. He caught the bug. He also played the old Army course at Fort Des Moines and Grand View regularly before beginning a 28-year association with Hyperion Field Club. While at Hyperion, he served on the Board of Directors and club president and was instrumental in hiring long-time pro Ross deBuhr and superintendent John Ausen.

He also introduced two sons, Jim and Jon, to the game. Both youngsters took a shine to golf and were regulars at Hyperion during the summer months, wearing the tires out from a Moped as they repeatedly took the six-mile jaunt to the club from their Urbandale home with clubs strapped on their backs. The boys would chip and putt while waiting for junior tee times and developed a fierce competitive instinct. Both would eventually earn golf scholarships to West Texas State University, with Jon developing into a force in Iowa golf, both in the open and senior divisions with 26 titles in IGA or IGA sanctioned tournaments. The Iowa Golf Hall of Famer also won a record 14 Des Moines City Championships.

But as Cleo says, “It was Jim who was the golfer in the family” until his business pursuits as a financial advisor crowded out his playing time.

Among his achievements, Jim Brown claimed a Des Moines junior golf championship, defeating Mike McCoy in the finals. The two would later compete in the same collegiate conference circles, Jim at West Texas State and Mike at Wichita State.

Brown, shown above on the first tee at the Wakonda Club prior to the start of the Principal Charity Classic, has no plans to hang up his first tee microphone. “The Principal Charity Classic has been a big part of the Brown family life,” he said.

“Each year I think this might be it and each year I keep coming back.” He offers the following advice to fellow seniors. “Stay involved, stay active and have a purpose. A good home life makes all the difference – I’ve been married to Katie for 67 years and she’s still my best friend.”

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

2023 IGA Annual Awards, Player of the Year banquet scheduled

Open to the public

The IGA would like to announce to the public that the 2023 Annual Awards and Player of the Year Banquet is scheduled for Friday, December 8, at Terrace Hills Golf Course, in Altoona (8700 NE 46th, Ave.).

The schedule of events for the evening will be:

  • 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. – Arrival and Registration
  • 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. – Social hour and food
  • ·6:45 – 7:00 p.m. – Awards program begins
  • 9:00 p.m. – Award program ends

The cost for the evening’s event will be $40 and can be paid for via credit card over the phone or online by clicking here. You may reach out to the IGA Office at (515) 207-1062 to pay over the phone.

Note – Groups can purchase up to eight tickets at a time online. 

Deadline to register for the event is Wednesday, November 29, at 4:30 p.m.

Read more about each IGA Annual Award winner by clicking here.

Read more about each Player of the Year by following the links below.
Men’s Player of the Year (Open, Senior, Super Senior)
Women’s Player of the Year (Open, Senior)
Junior Player of the Year (Boys, Girls)

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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