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Celebration of Life for Jim Curell set for Friday, April 30

Join friends and family for a legendary sendoff for Jim Curell on Friday, April 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Cedar Pointe Golf Course in Boone. Jim passed away in April 2020, and due to COVID-19 restrictions at the time, a fitting memorial could not be celebrated – until now!

Appetizers and beverages will be provided. Special guests will share memories and other remarks around 7 p.m. The family will be following CDC guidance for COVID-19 during this event. If you are not fully vaccinated, please bring a mask and practice social distancing, as needed.

Boone’s Jim Curell passes away

Schroeder-Stark-Welin Funeral Home in Boone will be live streaming Jim Curell’s service on Friday, April 24, at 10 a.m. This can be viewed from their Facebook Page at


Jim Curell, 67, of Boone, passed away Sunday afternoon, April 19, 2020. Curell, affectionately known as ‘The Legend’, was a household name on the Iowa golf scene for over 50 years.

Curell was described recently by Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member Rick Brown as being a gentleman golfer in the truest sense of the word.  He had a homemade swing that produced outstanding results.  He was  a three-time winner of the Lake Creek Amateur (1979, 1981, 1999), twice a champion at the Northwest Amateur ((1982, 1988) and low amateur at the Iowa Open (1992). Curell also was victorious at the 1980 Tournament of Champions and 1987 Iowa Mid-Amateur. Curell earned IGA Player of the Year honors in 1979.

Once Curell entered the Senior Division, he was still a force to be reckoned with – winning the 2005 IGA Four-Ball Senior Division with partner Bruce Gervais, 2011 Senior Match Play and was the 2014 Iowa Masters Senior Division champion. Curell was the IGA Senior Player of the Year in 2010 & 2011 and twice qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur (2010, 2011).

In addition to his wonderful playing record, Curell gave back to the game that had given him so much.  Upon his retirement from Redeker’s Furniture in Boone, he began helping maintain the grounds at his home course, Honey Creek.  He also served in a volunteer capacity on the committee that administers the Iowa Masters at Veenker each year.

Curell will be remembered by all golfers as having a true passion for the game of golf and as one of the most respected players to play on the IGA circuit. Our sympathies go out to Curell’s wife, Kim; sons, Andy and Ryan and grandchildren, Alex, Josie, & Will.

A small, private service will be held for family on Friday, April 24, at Schroeder-Stark-Welin in Boone. A memorial celebration of Jim’s life will be announced for a later date this summer. Memorials may be made to the family and will be used to memorialize Jim with a stone bench to be placed at Honey Creek. You can view Curell’s obituary by clicking here.

We encourage you to share your favorite memories of “The Legend” in the comments section below.  We will share these memories with Kim and all of Jim’s family. 

BVU Lake Creek Welcomes Midwest’s Best for Lake Creek Amateur

Above – J.D. Anderson after chipping on to the 18th green at the Buena Vista University Golf Course at Lake Creek during the final round of the 2021 Lake Creek Amateur. Anderson, a two-time Iowa Player of the Year, returns to Storm Lake on Saturday and Sunday, part of a strong 90-player field to tee it up this weekend.

Holiday weekend tournament helps determine IGA Player of the Year

Ninety golfers tee it up this weekend as the Buena Vista University Golf Course at Lake Creek hosts the 2022 Lake Creek Amateur, an official points event for the Iowa Golf Association (IGA).

In November, the IGA named BVU Lake Creek its 18-Hole Golf Course of the Year, an honor that, in part, was due to the work local officials and volunteers had done in resurrecting the Lake Creek Amateur three years ago after a seven-year hiatus.

“We’re very excited to see this weekend’s competition play out as we have a tremendous field of competitors vying for the title,” says BVU Lake Creek Director of Golf Operations Joe Powell, who doubles as Head Coach for the men’s and women’s golf teams at BVU. “Players such as Nate McCoy, the reigning Iowa Player of the Year, will be here, as will past champion J.D. Anderson, another Iowa Player of the Year. A solid corps of the state’s best will be tested by our thick rough, the course’s forced carries, consistent BVU Lake Creek winds, and the intricacies of our signature greens, manicured and brought up to speed in a cool spring season by Superintendent Bob Leinbaugh and his staff.”

Nate McCoy is coming off a one-shot victory over Anderson last weekend in the 37th Iowa Mid-Am Championship hosted at Spencer Golf and Country Club. Anderson, the Iowa Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018, claimed runner-up honors at the Lake Creek Amateur one year ago, falling just short in his bid to become a three-time winner of the event.

McCoy, who serves as Director of Handicapping and Course Rating with the Iowa Golf Association, is familiar with the BVU Lake Creek layout, having competed in previous competitions. His father, Mike McCoy, won the Lake Creek Amateur on four occasions.

Past champ Al Pottebaum also joins the field, a collection dotted with the likes of contenders Jon Olson, the 2014 IGA Iowa Player of the Year, as well as Freddy Bullock, Drew D’ercole, and Storm Laker Aaron Clausen, who returned to amateur competition in 2021 and won the BVU Lake Creek Club Championship in August.

“This is the third year since the return of the Lake Creek Amateur and we’re delighted to have it on the IGA points schedule,” says Chad Pitts, IGA CEO/Executive Director. “BVU Lake Creek is a great test of golf and an early-season event that gives the winner and those who play well some added momentum as our Amateur of the Year competition heads into the summer months. The tournament is also a great chance for folks around Storm Lake to show off a golf course that’s been an integral part of their community for 50 years.”

BVU Lake Creek celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding with a weekend of special events on June 17-18.

“We are so proud to be back in the conversation in helping to determine Iowa’s Amateur of the Year,” says BVU Lake Creek President Mike Wilson. “Working with wonderful partners like Buena Vista University and the Iowa Golf Association allows our staff, volunteers, and members the chance to welcome guests and visitors not only this weekend, but throughout the entire golf season.”

Visitors to the course just west of Storm Lake will see a clubhouse that’s undergone several renovations in the past several months, updates befitting the IGA’s 18-Hole Course of the Year honor. Competitors in the 2022 Lake Creek Amateur will experience those positive changes while doing their best to tame an 18-hole layout that has challenged and rewarded Iowa’s best golfers in this tournament since 1973.

Past Lake Creek Amateur champions, scores
2021 – Brenden Bassing, Sioux Falls (143…36 holes)
2020 – Jack Evans, Brainerd, Minn. (144…36 holes)
2013 – Matt Weeks, Spirit Lake (213)
2012 – Gene Elliott, West Des Moines (207)
2011 – Kirby Pettitt, Carroll (206)
2010 – Justin Schulte, West Des Moines (207)
2009 – J.D. Anderson, West Des Moines (209)
2008 – Jon Brown, Urbandale (205)
2007 – Kyle Ritchie, Corning (211)
2006 – J.D. Anderson, West Des Moines (204)
2005 – Mike McCoy, West Des Moines (209)
2004 – Scott Quandt, Mt. Carmel (204)
2003 – Ron Peterson, Urbandale (141)
2002 – Ron Peterson, Urbandale (210)
2001 – Kevin Johnson, Urbandale (215)
2000 – Steve Smith, Johnston (207)
1999 – Jim Curell, Boone (205)
1998 – Jason Knutzon, Ames (207)
1997 – Nate Dunn, Manchester (67)
1996 – Ben Pettitt, Carroll (206)
1995 – Mike McCoy, Des Moines (172)
1994 – Mike McCoy, Des Moines (206)
1993 – Jon Brown, Urbandale (209)
1992 – Mike McCoy, Des Moines (206)
1991 – Jay Horton, Ames (207)
1990 – Al Pottebaum, LeMars (208)
1989 – Mike Dunphy, Perry (207)
1988 – Todd Sapp, Lincoln (220)
1987 – Bill Manske, Algona (218)
1986 – Steve Winkel, Algona (215)
1985 – Ned Zachar, Ames (210)
1984 – Greg Tebbutt, Bettendorf (213)
1983 – Dean Kain, Algona (283)
1982 – Gary Claypool, Marion (278)
1981 – Jim Curell, Boone (242)
1980 – Dean Kain, Algona (288)
1979 – Jim Curell, Boone (287)
1978 – Bill Manske, Algona (277)
1977 – Chuck Null, Cedar Rapids
1976 – Julius Boros, Iowa City (139)
1975 – Lon Nielsen, Belle Plaine

1974 – Roger Null, Cedar Rapids
1973 – Larry Castagnoli, Fort Dodge


‘Up and Down’ the Iowa Golf Scene – Nervig Reflects on Decades of Service to The Iowa Masters

John Nervig stands in front of the venerable Iowa Masters scoreboard, where each player’s hole-by-hole scores are displayed. This summer, Nervig will be part of his 70th Iowa Masters, as a competitor, tournament director and honorary official.

A Masterful Performance

When Ames native John Nervig first teed it up in the Iowa Masters golf tournament, Harry S. Truman was completing his second term in the Oval Office, a polio epidemic was gripping the United States and gasoline averaged $.20 cents per gallon.

This summer, the 85th edition of the Iowa Masters will be contested at Veenker Memorial Golf Course in Ames. Remarkably, Nervig has been part of the action for 70 of those events, first as a player, followed by a tournament director/co-director and now as an honorary official.

The 86-year-old Nervig first played the Masters in 1952. Starting in 1958, he reeled off 50 consecutive years of playing in the tournament, a record that stands alone today. He has the distinction of participating in 52 overall Iowa Masters events, a record he shares with long-time friend and former Iowa State Cyclone basketball and broadcasting legend Gary Thompson.

“There’s something special about the Iowa Masters golf tournament,” said Nervig. “It’s a combination of a challenging golf course, great tradition, well-run tournament featuring volunteers and staff who love the game and players who love to compete and renew the great friendships developed over the years.”

John Nervig poses with his hometown friend and long-time Iowa Masters tournament co-director, the late George Turner.

Established in 1938, long-time Iowa State Sports Information Director Harry Burrell capably managed the Iowa Masters for 40 years. In 1988, Burrell turned the reins over to Nervig and his fellow Ames native and good friend George Turner. Together, they co-directed the tournament for more than 30 years until Turner’s passing in 2019. They formed an extraordinary tournament staff, including clubhouse manager Tess Balsley, club professional Greg Dingel, former greenskeeper John Newton and the late Jerry Martinson, volunteer chair who also served as co-director for many years. A veteran committee included the likes of Mike Casey, Mike Purcell, Sean Flanders, Grant Walker and the late Jim Curell. On the tournament’s 75th anniversary, and in recognition of decades of service, Turner and Nervig received honorary life memberships to Veenker.

One of Nervig’s proudest achievements in his seven decades of involvement in the Iowa golf scene is being named the 2011 recipient of the George Turner Distinguished Service Award by the Iowa Golf Association.

“It was a fantastic honor to receive this award named after my great friend,” Nervig said. “All of the friends I have made through my years of volunteering have more than paid me back for the hours I have given.”

He also served several years as a member of the IGA Board, including President from 1985-87. In addition to playing many rounds with the iconic Turner, they also formed an intramural basketball team in the early 1950’s that scrimmaged the Iowa State freshmen squad during those days when first-year players were ineligible for varsity competition.

Nervig notes several changes over the years, both in the course layout and the tournament format.

“Veterans recall the tiny clubhouse and holes one and eighteen set apart from the rest of the course,” he noted. “Then the 13th Street road project came through that caused some hole redesign.”

Also gone are the five-hour plus rounds, aided by more volunteers, spotters, and a reduction of the field from 224 players to 156 players.

Although he played golf as a youngster, making many trips around Ames’s 9-hole Homewood layout, it took a significant health issue to reroute Nervig’s primary interest. He was a founding member of the Ames Merchants fast-pitch softball team and was a solid hitting and fielding third baseman. As a young man, Nervig was stricken with a case of Colitis, serious enough to cause a three-week hospital stay in Iowa City and two major re-sectioning surgeries. The subsequent Crohn’s Disease caused some life changes, including giving up softball. He turned his full attention to golf.

“I really didn’t think I’d live to see 30 years of age,” Nervig said. “But the silver lining in all this was the fabulous connections made through the game of golf.”

Nervig was a highly competitive golfer, winning three Ames City Championships and charting a pair of top 10 finishes at the Masters, including a 54-hole total of two-over par 218 in 1972. He also claimed at least 20 titles during the now bygone era of small town one-day golf tournaments, capturing titles in places like Nevada, Jewell, Story City and Ackley, where he once fired an 18-hole score of 59. Nervig was among the favorites in those venues, except when Eldora’s Ivan Miller was in the field. Billed as “The King of the Minnows” for winning more than 100 of such events, Miller was recently inducted into the Iowa Golf Association Hall of Fame.

“When Ivan was in town, we all knew we were playing for second,” Nervig recalled.

Nervig retired in the year 2000 following a 42-year career with the Iowa Department of Transportation in Ames. He and his wife, Patti, raised three sons.

He offers this parting advice.

“The game of golf is a lot like the game of life. You have far more good days than bad days and just give it your best effort.”

“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.

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