Author: iowagolf

Featuring 100 Women: Championship Excellence

Profiling Five Past Iowa Women’s Amateur Golf Champions

Iowa has a rich history of women’s golf, marked by outstanding players who have showcased their talent and dedication on the course. Over the years, the Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship has allowed these golfers to shine, displaying skill, determination, and sportsmanship. Let’s delve into the achievements of some remarkable winners who have left an indelible mark on the Iowa golfing landscape.

In 1922, the inaugural Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship took place, marking a significant milestone in the state’s golfing history. The event was a testament to the growing interest and participation of women in golf during that era. Hosted at Sunnyside Country Club, the initial championship was invite-only. Miss Margaret Addington, a Waterloo native, defeated Mrs. Frank C. Byers 4&3 in the championship match. Local papers reported at the time that “Miss Addington apparently had the better of her opponent throughout, although the Cedar Rapids woman played a remarkable game while each encountered hard luck at times”. 

After starting the match tied through three, Addington would reel off six straight wins on holes four through nine to take a commanding lead into the back nine. Byers would cut into the deficit with a par on ten but it wouldn’t be enough as Addington quickly won the 11th getting back to a six-up advantage. After tying the 12th, Byers sank an eight-footer for birdie on 13 to keep her championship hopes alive. It wouldn’t be enough though as the two tied the 15th and final hole, etching Addington as the first in a long list of Iowa Women’s Amateur champions. Her triumph undoubtedly laid the foundation for future generations of female golfers to excel on the course.

In 1997, the Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship was held at the Burlington Golf Club, a renowned course known for being the oldest golf club west of the Mississippi River. The competition attracted top female golfers from across the state, all vying for the prestigious title.Among them, Chris Cervetti emerged victorious, showcasing exceptional skill and composure throughout the tournament.

Cervetti opened up the championship with a round of three-over 75 to find herself tied for the lead. She remained steady over the final 36 holes, posting 76-77 to claim the title by a single shot over then-Iowa State player Cathy Matthews. While the victory at age 44 was impressive, it wasn’t the most impressive stat of the week. Since playing in her first Iowa Women’s Amateur in 1978 Cervetti had finished second in six different championships and placed in the top seven 13 different times. With all her close calls, it appeared as though the 1997 championship would be yet another. Holding a four-shot lead, she stepped onto the 15th tee. By the time she tapped in on the 18th, her lead had shrunk to just a single stroke. It didn’t matter as the Des Moines native would finally claim triumph at Burlington Golf Club, cementing her place in Iowa’s golfing history.

The 1998 Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship witnessed fierce competition at the Ottumwa Country Club, a picturesque venue known for its lush fairways and immaculate greens. Against this backdrop, Stacey Bergman delivered clutch shots and touch around the greens throughout the back nine and into a playoff on her way to capturing the Iowa Women’s Amateur.

The Fort Dodge native, an incoming transfer and soon-to-be Junior at Tennessee, was no stranger to rising to the occasion. Earlier in the 1998 season, Bergman had tied for medalist honors at the Big 10 Conference Championship while competing for the University of Iowa. After missing short putts on the front, Bergman found herself trailing Patricia Martinson by two after the pair went bogey-birdie on the 10th. She’d battle back to tie Martinson when the pair reached the 16th tee.

After posting identical 54-hole scores of 12-over, 225, Bergman and Martinson returned to the first tee. After parring the first, Martinson hit her tee shot on the par three second to 18 feet. Bergman then stepped up, delivering a five-iron that settled 8 feet from the flag. After a miss from Martinson, Bergman calmly knocked in the birdie putt. Her victory at Ottumwa Country Club showed not only her talent but also her resilience in claiming the Iowa Women’s Amateur title.

In 2001, the Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship showcased the pinnacle of women’s golfing talent at the prestigious Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City. Amidst the challenging terrain and competitive field, Mary Anne Locher rose above the rest, demonstrating determination and grit en route to victory.

While many players have to wait years and suffer from close calls before claiming their first victory, Locher was able to capture the title in her first year participating. Along the way, she took down future three-time champion Jenny Heinz and the defending champion Patricia Martinson with a 54-hole total of two-under-par 214. After opening with a three-over 75, Locher quickly bounced back with a second-round 67. Heading into the final round, she trailed Heinz by one. Rain delayed the start of the final round by nearly two and a half hours, but it didn’t seem to faze Locher as she capitalized with an early birdie on the par-5 second hole.

That one-shot lead remained throughout the rest of the final round and would be extended to two heading into the 17th. Heinz made birdie on the penultimate hole to close the gap, but it wouldn’t be enough as Locher’s final approach of the day came within 15 feet of the hole. “I came here wanting to win, but what were the odds of that happening?” Locher would later say.

Her win at Finkbine Golf Course solidified her status as a formidable force in Iowa’s golfing community. More impressive than winning her first title in her first attempt was the list of past and future Iowa Women’s Amateur champions who filled the final leaderboard, including Jenny Heinz, Patricia Martinson, Sarah Gilbert, and Jennie Arseneault.

Des Moines Golf & Country Club (North) was the backdrop for the 2012 Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship, where the state’s top female golfers converged to compete for glory. Among them, Kimmy Askelson distinguished herself with a stellar performance that showcased her remarkable talent and off-season learning.

During the fall of Askelson’s freshman season at Drake, she discovered a partial tendon tear in her foot, which led to her being sidelined for nearly nine months. In just her second start back from injury, the teen returned better than ever physically and mentally. Much of her off-season prep revolved around improving her mental game. The work paid off, as she claimed the win over University of Iowa assistant coach Laura Cilek and her head coach Leanne Smith.

Askelson found herself trailing after the first round, but only by one, and after 36, slept on a two-shot lead over Smith. Even with the cushion, she kept her foot on the pedal, doubling her lead by the time she finished the final round. Even with temps that reached above 100 degrees each day of the championship, the Bulldog remained as cool as ever. Askelson was steady through the 54 holes, carding two rounds of 75 sandwiched around a 76 for a 54-hole total of 226 and a four-shot victory. Emerging victorious at Des Moines Golf & Country Club, Askelson etched her name in Iowa’s golfing records.

The Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship has been a platform for extraordinary talent to shine, showcasing the best of women’s golf in the state. From the inaugural event in 1922 to recent triumphs, each winner has contributed to the rich tapestry of Iowa’s golfing heritage. Their achievements serve as a source of inspiration for future generations of female golfers, highlighting the values of perseverance and skill that define the sport. As Iowa continues to produce exceptional talent, the legacy of these champions will stand, shaping the future of women’s golf in the state for years to come.

Next week on Women’s Wednesday…

Explore the legacy and contributions of past board members and benefactors of the IWGA and IGA, highlighting their key role in shaping the landscape of women’s golf in Iowa.

Featuring 100 Women: Fore-ward Females

Female Leaders Tee Up Success in Iowa’s Golf Community

The Iowa Golf Association (IGA) and Iowa Section PGA (IPGA) each play integral parts in growing the game of golf in the state of Iowa. Many recognize the IGA as the organization that runs different amateur events while the IPGA focuses on the professional side of the game. While both are true, the IGA and IPGA overlap when it comes to not only professional tournaments but also junior events. The IGA hosts two professional events each year in the form of U.S. Open Local Qualifying and the Herman Sani Tournament. IGA junior events include the Iowa Junior Amateur, Iowa Girls’ Junior Amateur, and U.S. Junior Amateur qualifying. While they don’t work directly together on high school state tournaments, the IGA and IPGA collaborate greatly as the IGA handles the administration of the girls’ and the IPGA takes care of the boys’ side. The two organizations also come together annually for the Iowa Cup Matches which feature the top male amateur and PGA Sectional pros.

They too work together to promote women’s golf. Beginning in 2022, the Women’s Golf Summit was created to celebrate women in golf and promote the game outside of social settings. In its first year, the event was a huge success. This year marks the second edition of the biennial event and the first at Golf House Iowa.

Along the way, the organizations have grown with the influx of golfers and expanded their staff. Both organizations currently have two female staff members, with Katelynn Hogenson and Karli Kerrigan working for the IGA and Tess Goudy and Stephanie Mason working for the IPGA.

Tess Goudy, PGA has been a member of the PGA for nearly 25 years and along the way has collected many of the state’s top honors. After beginning her career as an assistant professional at both Kirksville Country Club and Geneva Golf & Country Club, she was hired by the Iowa PGA in 2001, by then Iowa PGA Executive Director Kirk Stanzel, PGA as the Communications Director. Goudy has transformed the junior golf structure in the state and has been credited for shaping the Iowa Junior Golf Tour into a model for other Junior Tours in the U.S.

Annually, the Iowa PGA Tour administers more than 100 Junior Tour, Pee Wee Tour, and IHSAA events. Along with coordinating junior tournaments, Goudy also administers the Junior Academy and oversees the PGA Jr. League and Drive, Chip, and Putt. Goudy’s responsibilities don’t end there. She heads up the Membership Development for the Iowa PGA which includes setting up educational opportunities for IPGA Members, Continuing Education, and Membership updates.

Goudy broke through in 2019 when she was named the Iowa PGA Professional of the Year. The Golf Professional of the Year Award is the highest honor paid to an Iowa PGA Golf Professional. Honorees are chosen based on leadership abilities that stand above the rest, contributions made to their facility’s success, and excelling as an overall golf professional at the Iowa PGA Section level.  Goudy was the first female to win this prestigious award in Iowa PGA history. Additional awards and accolades for Goudy include: Bill Stausbaugh Award (2002), and Youth Player Development (2008, 2011). Iowa PGA was honored earlier this year with the 2024 Herb Graffis Award. Named annually, it recognizes the PGA of America Section for extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of Player Development.

Stephanie Mason now holds the position that gave Goudy her start at the Iowa PGA – the Communication Coordinator. Stephanie is no stranger to the golf industry, having grown up in a golf family headed by her father, and IPGA Executive Director, Greg Mason, PGA. Stephanie got her initial start in golf by working at two courses owned by the Mason family during and beyond her high school years. She joined the staff in February 2020 and oversees all media-related duties ranging from press releases to graphic design, and website redesign.

Mason currently executes marketing plans and communication across all social media accounts including X (Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. Outside of social media, Mason is responsible for publishing the digital magazine for the IPGA which is shared with more than 15,000 individuals. She is also responsible for press releases ranging from tournament previews and recaps to annual award winners and Player of the Year recipients. One of her biggest projects was the overhaul of the IPGA’s four websites. With websites ranging from junior golf to internal sites for PGA members, Mason was able to design user-friendly sites to match branding initiatives and optimize the user experience.

With all of that going on, Mason still finds time to help assist with tournament operations for events such as the Iowa Open, and Iowa PGA Professional Championships, as well as five local Drive, Chip, and Putt qualifiers.

While the IGA currently has two women on staff, they weren’t the first. Julie Buch was the office manager for both the I.W.G.A and IGA from 2003-2011. Though she was part-time, she played an important role as the accountant and bookkeeper for both organizations. While she rarely assisted in championship prep or execution, her responsibility in the office freed up various IGA and IWGA staff to conduct championships, course ratings, and various initiatives.

Noel Treibel, now Knock, was the first full-time IGA female staff member after the IGA-Iowa PGA office split in 2001.  She joined the team in 2010. Previously a PJ Boatwright Intern for the I.W.G.A. from 2008-2010, Treibel would go on to become the Manager of Member Services and Women’s Golf.

Her main responsibilities during her time at the IGA revolved around women’s golf and women’s course ratings. For women’s events, Noel was the official in charge of securing host sites, preparing the courses, and executing the overall championship. In 2012, her role shifted when she became the Director of Course Rating while also maintaining Women’s Golf. Former IGA Executive Director Bill Dickens credited Treibel for her outstanding work leading up to the 2013 I.W.G.A. and IGA merger saying “The consolidation of the IGA and I.W.G.A. would not have been possible without the outstanding work of Noel Knock”.

During her time at the IGA, Treibel oversaw the hiring of Katelynn as an IGA intern in 2011. The two made a great team and helped elevate women’s golf in the state of Iowa. Each has many stories to tell from their early days at the IGA, as evident in their 2021 Greenside Episode: On Target with Noel. It was only fitting that Hogenson took over for Treibel in 2013 when she left the golf industry. She now resides in Waukee with her husband Justin and their two daughters.

During high school, Katelynn Hogenson participated in softball, volleyball, basketball, and golf and earned 11 varsity letters. She was named the 2007 Muscatine Community Y Female Athlete of the Year and awarded the Masterson Cup Award that same year. In golf, Hogenson qualified for State three of her four years. She earned medalist honors twice and was runner-up once at the MAC tournament. During her senior year, she set the 9-hole course record at Stone Creek Golf Club in Williamsburg with a 3-under par, 33.

Hogenson continued her golf career at Iowa State University where she lettered and double majored in Business Management and Marketing. In 2009 Hogenson qualified for a Futures Tour event (now Epson Tour), and in 2010 qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. In that same season, she finished top-5 in the Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship at Finkbine Golf Course and won the inaugural IGA Women’s Four-Ball with partner Katie Suckow at Mason City Country Club. The two still hold the low scoring record for the event with a two-round total of 130.

In 2011, Hogenson was hired as the 4-month IWGA P.J. Boatwright Intern working closely with the IWGA Board of Directors and Noel Knock. The following year, Hogenson took the 6-month IGA P.J. Boatwright Internship and was offered the position of Director of Operations and Women’s Golf by Bill Dickens later that year. Following a staff change in 2015, she took the role of Membership Services and Women’s Golf and in 2021 was named the Chief Operating Officer.

In addition to working with the IGA, Hogenson has assisted with several USGA initiatives. In 2018 she was one of seven individuals nationwide selected for the USGA Handicap Outreach Working Group tasked with the rollout of the 2020 World Handicap System. She remained on this committee through 2023. She currently holds a position on the USGA P.J. Boatwright Working Group, focused on encouraging young men and women to work in the golf industry.

Hogenson has achieved Expert Level certification in the Rules of Golf which has earned her an invitation to over 10 USGA Championships including the 2022 Curtis Cup held at Merion Golf Club. She was a referee during the 2017 Junior Solheim Cup held at Des Moines Golf and Country Club and was a forward observer for the Singles Matches of the Solheim Cup between Michelle Wie and Caroline Masson. Most recently, Hogenson was invited to the 2024 Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship, a 54-hole stroke play championship featuring the best women in the world held at Champions Retreat and Augusta National Golf Club.

“It’s amazing where this game has taken me, and who knew it would be without swinging a club,” Hogenson said.

Hogenson’s first USGA officiating role came at the 2015 USGA Women’s State Team at Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. It also marked the first USGA event for then high school senior Karli Kerrigan. Just a few short years after that trip, Kerrigan would enter the world of golf administration through the P.J. Boatwright program at the IGA. Not long after, the two would join forces as colleagues, recognized as the driving forces behind the 100th Iowa Women’s Amateur.

When you ask Karli Kerrigan how her day is, you almost always get the same response: “Just another day in paradise.” For those lucky enough to know Karli, they know this is her sense of humor shining through. However, her response could be taken literally as she has an unmistakable passion for the IGA and her role as the Director of Competitions. Kerrigan can serve in this role so successfully because of her lifetime of experience with golf and her hard-working personality.

Having been around the game her whole life, she was an accomplished junior and collegiate player. She earned an individual state title for Centennial High School in Ankeny, an individual Heart of America Conference Championship title while at Grandview, two IGA Women’s Four-Ball titles, and an Iowa Junior Girls’ Amateur title in between. In 2016, Kerrigan was named a Sani Scholar, which is a high honor for any graduating senior in Iowa. Taking her passion for golf beyond college, she served as a P.J. Boatwright intern for the IGA in 2019 and 2020. After a short stint working at Glen Oaks Country Club, Kerrigan was hired at the IGA full-time in 2022 as the Director of Competitions where she has flourished.

Karli puts countless hours into planning IGA Championships and considers even the smallest details. Many players would be shocked by all the planning that is involved before anyone tees up a ball. The player’s overall experience at an IGA Championship is of utmost importance to Karli and she is constantly brainstorming new ideas for the future. The 100th Iowa Women’s Amateur is a perfect example of Karli’s ideas and plans for the future coming to fruition. The 100th playing of the Iowa Women’s Amateur will be special for numerous reasons, but most of them would not be possible without people like Karli or Katelynn working behind the scenes.

The IGA and I.W.G.A. have also featured nearly a dozen female interns since the initiation of the P.J. Boatwright program. Previous interns include:

  • Sara Sexton – 2003
  • Cindy Whitmore – 2007
  • Noel Treibel – 2008-2010
  • Kasie Pheanis – 2009
  • Amanda Vogt – 2010
  • Ashlen Matzdorf – 2011
  • Katelynn Hogenson – 2011-2012
  • Mayci Rule – 2012
  • Kelsey Van Tassel – 2013-2015
  • Katie Gustafson – 2014
  • Meg Monson – 2016
  • Brooke Miller – 2017
  • Megan Rush – 2018
  • Karli Kerrigan – 2019-2020
  • Annika Patton – 2021
  • Jackie Wojciechowski – 2022
  • Paige Hoffman 2023-2024

Next Week on Women’s Wednesday…

Past champions who joined the impressive list of women to claim the elusive Iowa Women’s Amateur title.

Featuring 100 Women: Three’s Company

Celebrating Iowa’s Three-Time Iowa Women’s Amateur Champions

Winning the Iowa Women’s Amateur can often be the pinnacle event of a player’s career. The highly competitive field combined with the demands of the course often brings the cream of the Iowa crop into contention. Most would feel fortunate just to be in contention during the championship. For a select few, being in contention was the standard, a regular occurrence, and potentially, an expectation. It is rarified air being crowned the champion of this event twice, but in its history, four players have reached another level: three victories.

Des Moines’ Mary Louise Cordingly was the first of four players to reach the magical number of three Iowa Women’s Amateur titles. She did so rather quickly, reeling off three victories in four years from 1947 through 1950. Her first title, in 1947, came at Cedar Rapids Country Club. Cordingly got off to a quick start in the championship match and never looked back. After the first 18 holes, she was already four up on Nell Staats who was, by all accounts, the veteran in the match. But that didn’t deter the Des Moines native as she then won or tied each of the following 11 holes, closing out a decisive 9 & 7 victory.

Returning to the championship in 1948, Cordingly was the player to beat. Sunnyside Country Club has often felt like home for defending champions and it was no different for Cordingly. In the all Des Moines final, she took down Lois Penn by a margin of 2 & 1. Along the way to clinching the title, she faced some of the state’s top golfers in Corky Nydle and a rematch with Nell Staats. In both rounds of the title match, Cordingly saved her best for the back nine as she closed out in one-under-par 41 and two-under 40. After miscalculating her score on the 32nd, she was forced to concede it to Penn, helping her competitor close the gap. It gave Penn the momentum as she was also able to win the 33rd and 34th holes, slashing the deficit to one. Never one to back away, Cordingly drove the 35th hole and two-putted for birdie, closing out her successful title defense.

After bowing out early in the 1949 championship, Cordingly returned in 1950 with her sights once again set on victory. Similar to her first title, she dominated the final match, leaving little doubt to those who watched, that she was the top amateur in the state. Bebe Fisher had the tall task of trying to take down the two-time champion but proved to be no match as Cordingly rode an early five-up lead into an 8 & 7 victory at Clinton Country Club. Cordlingly led from start to finish, leaving the 19-year-old Fisher unable to gain any form of momentum. Following her third victory at the Iowa Women’s Amateur, the trophy was retired as was customary following a participant’s third victory in the event.

It was evident that Cordingly was the player to beat at the 1951 Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship and would go on to claim even more titles. However, she never got the chance. She tragically passed away during the early morning hours of March 31st, 1951. After leaving Wakonda Club, her home course, she drowned when the vehicle she was riding in was swept off Fleur Drive due to high floodwaters. The 1951 playing of the championship unveiled a new trophy, appropriately named after Cordingly.

It would take more than 25 years before another champion would claim three Iowa Women’s Amateur titles, but like Cordingly, it would only take four years to achieve. Hailing from Sibley, Barb Thomas took the state by storm in 1978 and 1979 as she captured both the Iowa High School Individual Championship and the Iowa Girls’ Junior title in both years.

Following her high school graduation in 1979, she would go on to claim her first Iowa Women’s Amateur title at Ottumwa Country Club. Standing on the 18th hole, the then 17-year-old Thomas was faced with a five-foot putt to claim victory. Rising to the occasion, the teen calmly rolled it in to post a three-over-par 74, and a 54-hole total of 298, edging out Dorea Mitchell by one.

She would go on to star at Iowa State University the following season, earning First Team All-American honors. Following her freshman season, she transferred to NCAA powerhouse University of Tulsa, where she would later finish third individually in the NCAA Championship while helping Canes to the team title.

Thomas would once again finish 1-2 in 1980, but this time it was Mitchell claiming the win. Thomas then came back better than ever in 1981. Playing at Burlington Golf Club, she left little doubt that she was the player to beat, posting rounds of 70, 72, 81 to win by seven strokes. Her first round 70 broke the previous Burlington Golf Club course record. Such as with Cordingly, Thomas successfully defended her Iowa Women’s Amateur title at Sunnyside the next year. After finishing the first round in a tie for first, Thomas blitzed the field over the next two rounds with back-to-back 71s to lift the trophy, this time by 14 strokes.

Following her college career and final Iowa Women’s Amateur title, Thomas set her sights on playing professionally. She played on the LPGA tour for 18 years where she captured the Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open in 1995. That year also marked one of her top finishes on the money list as she would go on to finish 31st in the standings. She was inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

Jenny Heinz of Waterloo was no stranger to the Iowa Women’s Amateur when she teed it up at Dodge Riverside Golf Course in 2003. The University of Northern Iowa Panther already had an Iowa High School State Individual title and Iowa Girls’ Junior Amateur to her name, but was still looking to capture the state’s largest event.

Entering the 2003 championship, Heinz had finished solo second and in a tie for second in the two previous Iowa Women’s Amateurs. It was plenty of motivation for her as she was able to hold off a late charge from Iowa State’s Leanne Owens and Lisa Meshke, capturing her maiden title. A birdie on the final hole helped her post three-under 33 on the back nine, securing the championship by two shots.

Heinz would continue her impressive play at the Iowa Women’s Amateur through the 2000’s but would have to wait six more years to claim her second win. During the drought of championship titles, she never finished outside the top 10 on the leaderboard. In 2009, she finally broke through again, clinching the Iowa Women’s Amateur title at Hyperion Field Club in Johnston. Even though she was out of college, the championship felt much like the 2003 event as Leanne Smith, previously Owens, finished runner-up. Heinz would once again wait six years before another title, this time capturing the crown in 2015 at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames. She was the only player under par after 54 holes, shooting 6-under-par 207 to claim the title by six over University of Iowa golfer Jessie Sindlinger.

While Jenny Heinz had to wait six years between victories, another Jennie was able to complete the trifecta in as many years. Beginning in 2004, Jennie Arseneault captured her first Iowa Women’s Amateur title. It wasn’t surprising to those who knew the teen. Originally from Grinnell, Arseneault opted to attend the prestigious International Junior Golf Academy, David Leadbetter Golf Academy, and The Pendleton School during her high school years.

Being immersed in golf year-round paid dividends as she was able to successfully defend her Iowa Women’s Amateur title in 2005, this time coming at Harvester Golf Club. In each of her first two titles, she closed in quite impressive fashion. First at Elmwood posting 66-67 then again at the Harvester posting 65-69 over the final 36 holes.

Her third and final title, coming in 2006 at Des Moines Golf & Country Club, began with quite the bang as she posted a course record 68. Losing momentum in the second round with a 73, she regrouped and saved her best for last. During the final nine holes of the event, she used a three-hole stretch recording a birdie and eagle to distance herself from the field and claim the title by four over Jill Marcum.

2006 was more than just the year she claimed her third straight title; it was one of the best years of her career. She qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Women’s Amateur that summer. Although she missed the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open, the experience would come in handy just a few weeks later when she teed it up at the Amateur. She put together quite the week, advancing out of stroke play and all the way to the quarterfinals before falling in 19 holes to Lindy Duncan.

Though she never teed it up again in the Iowa Women’s Amateur, mostly in part because of various injuries, Arseneault continued having success at the national level. Her most prolific victory came in 2008 when she captured the Women’s Western Amateur in Newnan, Georgia.

Next week on Women’s Wednesday…

Decisions aren’t made overnight. Take a closer look at those who have impacted the policies and procedures both for the Iowa Women’s Golf Association and the Iowa Golf Association.



Featuring 100 Women – Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member Corkey Nydle passes away

Celebrating the Life of Corkey Nydle

Corkey Nydle was 24 years old when she won her first Iowa Women’s Amateur golf title in 1953 at Elmcrest Country Club in Cedar Rapids.
She beat the legendary Ann Casey Johnstone, her college advisor at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., in the title match.

“She was a mature girl even when she came to Stephens College,” Johnstone once reflected. “I’ve had hundreds of girls who were wishy-washy and didn’t know what day it was. She did. She set good goals, and she’ll achieve them.”

Nydle, who passed away Saturday (March 16) at 94 years of age, lived up to Johnstone’s sage words. Corkey leaves behind a legacy that will live forever in the history of women’s golf in Iowa. Her career was so impressive that she was a member of the inaugural Iowa Golf Hall of Fame class in 1989.

Nydle’s 1953 Iowa Women’s Amateur title came at Johnstone’s expense. Ann would go on to win an unprecedented sixth title in 1959. Corkey caught her when she won her sixth title in 1972. That 1953 victory was at the top of the list.

“I think that’s probably the greatest (victory) because I beat the person who I had looked up to as far as golf was concerned,” Nydle reflected in 1994.

Corkey won 23 Iowa Women’s Golf Association-sponsored titles during her career. In addition to six Iowa Women’s Amateur crowns, she won 11 Iowa Senior Amateur titles. That included eight straight from 1983 to 1991. She won five Forever 39 titles and also helped Ellis Park (Cedar Rapids) win five state team titles.

Corkey was instrumental in the development of women’s golf in Iowa for the better part of 50 years. She had a special passion for promoting junior golf in the state. Nydle served on the IWGA’s board of directors for more than 30 years and also served a term on the USGA Junior Girls’ committee.
Corkey played in her first Iowa Women’s Amateur in 1946 at Hyperion. She would tee it up in the championship 46 times, including a string of 25 appearances in a row. That streak ended in 1983 back at Elmcrest, where Corkey had defeated her mentor 30 years earlier. Nydle was overcome by the heat on the final nine in 1983 and couldn’t finish.

Nydle’s brilliant career was fueled by an unsinkable spirit and a burning desire to compete. Corkey would take along a notebook and jot down notes about the course as she played it. She’d add to that notebook every time she returned to the course. Her notes included diagrams of every hole.

Corky was also blessed with a wealth of self-deprecating humor.

“People don’t know what to expect from me because I don’t know what to expect,” she once said.

She compared her longevity to an old penny.

“We never go away,” she said.

She was animated on the golf course, but never let a bad shot get the best of her.

“I enjoy the game,” she said. “When you hit a bad shot you can’t do anything about it. Why get mad?”

She was born Corinne Major in Ottumwa. She was named for her mother. She loved to swim as a kid, which played a role in her nickname.

“I guess I swam a lot and people said I floated like a cork,” she explained.

She had an impeccable short game, which she rode to that 1953 state title over Johnstone. They were tied halfway through the 36-hole final, but Corkey won the first two holes of the second round and never trailed again. She got up-and-down for par on five of the first six holes of that second round and eventually won the match, 4 and 3. It was the only loss Johnstone, elected to the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame in 1990, had in her final 20 Iowa Women’s Amateur matches.

Corkey went a decade before collecting her second Iowa Women’s Amateur title, in 1963 at Dodge Park in Council Bluffs. The championship had converted from match to medal play by then. She won by 14 shots.

She also won in 1965 at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines and 1968 at Spencer Golf and Country Club.

Her career nearly came to a premature end in 1969, when doctors told Nydle she was going to lose a hand because of radiation poisoning.

“They said within five years my hand would be completely clawed and it would have to be removed,” she said. “I said, “You’re a bunch of crackpots.’ ”

Corky started to squeeze a rubber ball to improve strength in her arm. She also built up the grips on her clubs to make it easier on her damaged hand. And she kept winning.

She added Iowa Women’s Amateur titles in 1970 at Dubuque Golf and Country Club and 1972 at Crow Valley Golf Club in Bettendorf. She matched Johnstone’s six titles by winning over three decades.

After moving to Florida in 2003, Nydle won 12 consecutive medals in the Florida Senior Games.

“I had no lessons and I’ve got a lot of bad habits,” Nydle said in 1983. “I learned my own game. I’m not a picturebook golfer – I don’t always do what I’m supposed to do. My philosophy of the game is that it’s not how many good shots you hit, but how many bad/good shots (bad shots that turn out good) that you hit.”

Her love for golf never left her.

“See that ground there,” she said during a 1997 interview, pointing to the turf. “When I’m under it, that’s when I’ll quit playing.”


Next Week on Women’s Wednesday…

Three’s Company: Iowa Women’s Amateur champions that captured the title three or more times in their career.

Featuring 100 Women – Teenage Triumph

Teenage Triumph: Juniors Capture State’s Crown Jewel

The Iowa Women’s Amateur is one of the toughest tests a player can face within the state borders. With a field made up of the top juniors, mid-amateurs, and seasoned veterans, it often requires many years and close calls for players to finally get their hands on the Fladoos Trophy. For a select few, the wait didn’t last long. They staked their claim in Iowa Women’s Amateur history before receiving their high school diploma.

The year was 1935 and the Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship was a mere 14 years old. The championship was being held at Davenport Country Club and all of the stars were teeing it up. Amongst the favorites and household names was a budding Edith Estabrooks.

The same age as the championship, Estabrooks’ game was well established and many quickly tabbed her as ‘a prodigy playing a high level of golf that defied her age’ with the physical and ‘mental makeup required of a champion’. By the end of the week, she rightfully earned her championship title taking down Jennet Jones, 5&4, in the match-play format. Aside from the dominant victory was the fact that Estabrooks began the 36-hole match five down through five. After leveling the match through 23 holes, the teen won five of the next nine holes. To cap it off, she drained a fifty-foot eagle putt on the 32nd hole to slam the door on Jones.

In her third attempt, Edith was able to not only write her name on the trophy, but into the record books by becoming the youngest champion in tournament history. She successfully defended her title in 1936 and 1937. After surrendering the trophy in 1938, she promptly claimed it again in 1939. Estabrooks did more than win the Iowa Women’s Amateur in her teenage years as she also captured the Western Girls’ Junior in 1936. She nearly claimed her second title in 1938 before falling to future LPGA and USGA champion Patty Berg in the championship match.

Five years after Estabrooks’ incredible victory, another young teenager tried her hand at capturing the same title. Phyllis Otto had just finished up her sophomore year of high school and was 10 days away from turning 16 when she teed it up at the 1940 Iowa Women’s Amateur. She captured the title at Wakonda Club in Des Moines with a decisive 6&5 margin over Kathleen Carey. Her closest match of the week was a 3&2 victory over future six-time Iowa Women’s Amateur Champion Ann Casey Johnstone.

Otto, having first participated in the event when she was 12, would go on to capture two more Iowa Women’s Amateur titles in 1942 and 1952, both coming at Des Moines Golf & Country Club. Between 1945 and 1946, she added titles at the Women’s Western Amateur and National Collegiate Women’s Championship along with a Curtis Cup invite to her resumé. Her 1945 Women’s Western Amateur title was over the legendary Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

Outside of women’s golf, Phyllis also left her mark in boys’ golf. She and three other boys teamed up to help Atlantic High School capture the state title in 1941. After turning in the lowest score, a protest broke out when it was discovered the team did not have a faculty member on site. Otto’s mother had driven the teens to the event but when the track and field coach failed to show up as the faculty representative, the team was disqualified.

Otto would later marry Jack Germain, the brother of her college roommate and teammate Dorothy, and hang her clubs up until 1948 when she continued her impressive display of golfing prowess. Seven years later, in 1952, she captured her third and final Iowa Women’s Amateur title before turning professional and pursuing a career in golf instruction.

Otto would remain the most recent high schooler to capture the Iowa Women’s Amateur until 1956. Not only would that year’s championship be won by a teenager, but the combined age for the two finalists didn’t even reach 30. In a match that felt more like the Iowa Junior Girls’ Amateur than the Women’s Amateur, 16-year-old Andy Cohn prevailed by a mark of 6&5 over 13-year-old Sharon Fladoos. Clinton Country Club was flooded with patrons as an estimated crowd of 1,000 followed along for each of the 31 holes played that July day. Even more groundbreaking was the fact that all four semifinalists that year were teenagers. Cohn and Fladoos were joined by Judy Kimball, 18, and Linda Cahill, 16. Kimball, the oldest of the four, was just a month removed from turning 18.

With the unprecedented teenage movement in the semifinals, the I.W.G.A. held a vote to see if juniors should be allowed to play in both the Iowa Junior Girls’ and the Iowa Women’s Amateur. Fortunately, the vote never passed. Had it passed, Sharon Fladoos wouldn’t have become the first girl to capture both the Junior and Women’s Amateur title in the same year, a feat she accomplished in 1960.

The 1956 championship was groundbreaking for more reasons than just its young finalists. It also marked the final time the champion was determined through a match-play format. The championship changed to stroke play medalist competition in 1957 and has remained so through today. Even with the format change, Estabooks’ championship record at age 14 still holds to this day. The closest anyone has ever come to besting Estabrooks was a fifteen-year-old Britta Snyder.

The Ames native made headlines in the summer of 2016 when she committed to Baylor University before ever stepping foot in a high school classroom. A highly-sought recruit, Snyder focused many of her competitive efforts on national-level events and an American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) schedule.

Not often teeing it up in Iowa, the youngster came into the 93rd Iowa Women’s Amateur with one goal: to win. She didn’t just win, she blitzed the field by a staggering 13 shots posting an even-par 216. Not bad, kid.

Snyder won every event she played in Iowa from 2017 through 2019. Beginning with her freshman year in the spring of 2017, Britta earned medalist honors at each of her high school tournaments. The one event she didn’t win? The individual high school state championship. It wasn’t because someone beat her. It was because she qualified for a USGA Championship, which was scheduled over the same dates.

Returning in 2018, the Gilbert sophomore won each time she teed it up, including her first individual state title. Her junior year, 2019, was more of the same as she continued to remain undefeated en route to her second straight individual state crown. She closed out her title defense with an eagle on the last hole to post a course-record 65. She didn’t know it then, but it would be her final time wearing the Gilbert uniform.

A senior in 2020, Snyder had to sit back as the COVID-19 epidemic wiped away any chance at her threepeat. “If I have a chance to leave high school golf that’s how I wanted to. I mean 65, winning a state title by 15 with an eagle putt. There’s no better way to end it than that,” Snyder would later say.

Synder didn’t know it then, but she wouldn’t be the last high schooler to claim a victory at the Iowa Women’s Amateur. Two years later in 2019, Paige Hoffman of West Des Moines teed it up at her first Iowa Women’s Amateur. The 17-year-old was fresh off claiming the 4A High School Individual State title and was well-known in the IGA circuit. But before she could win her maiden title, her passion for the IGA began with an invitation.

The Iowa Golf Association helped Hoffman kick-start her junior golf career in an important way in 2017 with an invitation to the Junior Girls’ Four-State Tournament. This event was a springboard for Paige’s love of golf and pushed her to pursue golf on a more competitive level. Throughout her junior career, Paige played in four Four-States, won three Iowa Junior Girls’ Player of the Year titles, won two IGA Women’s Four-Ball tournaments with teammate Kylie Carey, and won the previously mentioned Class 4A Iowa High School State Championship.

The pinnacle of Hoffman’s junior career was winning the Iowa Women’s Amateur at Otter Creek Golf Course in 2019. It is a title even she admits she didn’t think she would claim so early in her career. Paige ended her successful junior career by earning a Herman Sani Scholarship in 2021 for her high character and achievement in the classroom.

Hoffman’s passion for golf did not end at the junior level as she now plays collegiate golf at Northwest Missouri State University. She played her way to the NCAA Division II National Championship as a sophomore in 2023, which led to her inaugural IGA Women’s Player of the Year title.

Paige does not just have a passion for playing golf, but also a passion for golf administration. Paige served as the Handicapping and Course Rating Intern in 2023 and is excited to intern with the IGA again in 2024. “The Iowa golf community is a special group and I feel fortunate to be a small part of it as a player and an intern,” Hoffman said.

Though five champions are highlighted, they aren’t the only high schoolers to lift the Fladoos trophy. Jennie Arseneault did so in 2004 at Elmwood Country Club kicking off her streak of three in a row. Future releases will share Arseneault’s incredible run at the state’s top event. Sharon Fladoos captured her first of three Iowa Women’s Amateur titles in 1960 at age 17, just four years after her runner-up finish to Cohn. For a more in-depth look at Sharon’s career, click here.

Excerpts from Golden Harvest and We Are Iowa (WOI-TV) were used in this feature.

Next Week on Women’s Wednesday…

Celebrating the life of Corkey Nydle, one of Iowa’s most decorated amateurs.

Featuring 100 Women – 100 Competitive Holes

100 Competitive Holes: Fundraising for the Future

In celebration of the 100th Iowa Women’s Amateur, the IGA is excited to share the 100 Competitive Holes Fundraiser. Six highly competitive, engaging women have committed to playing 100 competitive holes of golf between now and the first round of the Iowa Women’s Amateur. Money raised will go towards enhancing the overall player experience at the championship and any net proceeds will be donated to the IGA Foundation to support women’s programming. The mission statement for this centennial event is ‘Centennial Celebration: Champion our Women’. Within the mission statement, we wanted to focus on centennial, celebration, and champion as the three categories of women who exemplify this fundraiser.

Centennial: Women’s Golf Today

The two individuals who embody the present state of women’s golf are Kelly Fosse of Grinnell and Fiona Watson of Des Moines. Both are mid-amateurs and participate in nearly all IGA Women’s events.

Fiona Watson is a native of Scotland and first came to Iowa in 1994 when she enrolled at Iowa State University. After an accomplished four-year career on the golf course, one that saw her share in the school record for the low 18-hole score, Watson transitioned into the role of assistant coach for Julie Manning. While she was the first player from overseas to be recruited to ISU, it quickly became a trend and many more soon followed.

Throughout her playing career, Watson has collected many IGA titles, most recently at the 2023 Iowa Forever 39 Match Play Championship. She has also qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. Though she is not quite eligible, Watson is sure to try her hand at qualifying for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur when the time comes.

“Golf in Iowa had been a magical part of my life. It’s provided me with so many opportunities and experiences that I have been able to capitalize on. So, I was both honored and excited to be asked to participate in the 100 Competitive Hole Fundraiser and the chance to help create an experience to remember for the 100th Iowa Women’s Amateur.”

Very rarely does a player come along to IGA events and truly dive in head first as Kelly Fosse did in 2023. The Grinnell resident played in four IGA women’s events in her first year of joining the circuit and quickly made friends with many of her competitors. Outside of the IGA, Fosse also participates in the Amateur Tour and Heart of a Lion Amateur Golf Tour, established by former PGA Tour standout John Daly.

After growing up playing golf, Kelly elected to put her clubs down in high school to focus on other sports. The hiatus didn’t last for long, as she would once again pick up the game during her college years at the University of Iowa. Outside of IGA and Heart of the Lion Tour events, Fosse participates in the Amateur Players Tour and weekly leagues at local courses. Off the course, she works as a Farm Mutual Reinsurance Territory Manager at Grinnell Mutual and also volunteers as a firefighter for the Grinnell Fire Department. She’s been with the department for nearly four years and routinely responds to structure and grass fires as well as vehicle accidents, hazmat incidents, and rescue operations. Simply put, no two days are ever the same. Through her involvement with the Grinnell Fire Department, Fosse began participating in the Tunnel to Towers Foundations 5K in New York City. The annual fundraiser is in honor of Stephen Siller who lost his life in the line of duty the morning of September 11th, 2001. Proceeds from the fundraiser are put towards helping America’s heroes who have made the supreme sacrifice of life or limb.

“I am honored to have been chosen to participate in the 100 Competitive Holes Fundraiser for the 100th year of the Iowa Women’s Amateur. I am so incredibly thankful for the Iowa Golf Association and other Iowa amateur tours that have provided women opportunities to play competitive golf. The game of golf has impacted my life incredibly by fostering personal and professional growth, creating a competitive spirit, teaching me diligence in following my dreams, and allowing me to make valuable friendships along the way. My hope is for this fundraiser to not only encourage young female athletes to put themselves out there and reach their full potential in the game of golf, but also for other women to be inspired by the talent they are surrounded by and have the confidence to participate, regardless of age or ability level.”

Celebration: The History of Women’s Golf

The two individuals who embody the establishment of women’s golf are Laura Leszczynski of Saint Marys and Noreen Christians of Urbandale. Both are seasoned veterans in respect to women’s golf in Iowa having played in IGA events for dozens of years combined.

Laura Leszczynski has quickly established herself as a top competitor on the senior circuit in Iowa. A three-time IGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year recipient, Leszczynski’s name is always in contention when looking at the leaderboard. Last year alone she scored two victories and a pair of runner-up finishes in IGA championships. Along with her Player of the Year titles, Leszczynski also has a firm hold of the Iowa Senior Women’s Amateur having lifted the trophy each of the last three years. Outside of Iowa, she has also qualified for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, most recently in 2022.

“I’m honored to be part of the 100 Competitive Hole Fundraiser, an event that not only celebrates the rich history of the Iowa Women’s Amateur but also champions the spirit of community and philanthropy. Participating in this fundraiser is a unique opportunity to connect with fellow golf enthusiasts, challenge my limits, and contribute to a cause that extends beyond the greens. It’s about being part of something larger than the game itself—a commitment to fostering talent, supporting women’s sports, and making a meaningful impact in our community. I’m excited to embark on this journey, share my progress, and see how our collective efforts can make a difference. Together, we’re not just playing for a title; we’re driving change, stroke by stroke.”

Noreen Christian, of Urbandale, has been participating in IGA events since 2021. Events ranging from one-day IGA Mid-Am Series events to the Wife-Husband to the Forever-39 Match Play, Christian is no rookie to the ever-changing formats. Outside the IGA, she is heavily involved with the LPGA Amateur Des Moines Chapter. With events during the warm months throughout Iowa, Noreen also travels across the U.S. to participate in LPGA Amateur championships, never missing an opportunity to tee it up and grow the game.

“Most that know me well would say I live in 2 seasons, golf, and no golf. It is an honor to be representing the many women in Iowa who also share this same passion for golf. The IGA and the LPGA Amateurs have led me to new friends, beautiful and different golf courses, and equipped me to attempt any course/opponent, no matter the challenge.”

Champion: Supporting the Future of Women’s Golf

It’s easy to look at Paige Hoffman and Anna Jensen and call them the future of women’s golf in Iowa. However, if one were to look closer, they would find that Hoffman and Jensen are here in the present and have made a name for themselves capturing the most prestigious events Iowa has to offer.

Paige Hoffman, of West Des Moines, has been participating in IGA championships dating back to her junior golf days. Along the way, she has built up quite the resume. Her participation includes the IGA Parent-Child Championship, Iowa Junior Girls’ Amateur, IGA Women’s Four-Ball (2x champion), IGA Women’s Match Play, and Iowa Women’s Amateur (2019 champion). She has excelled at every level scaling from the junior ranks to the collegiate level and now the amateur level. Additional information on Paige’s career will shared in a future release article.

“Through tournament and internship experience Iowa Women’s Golf has taught me how to be a stronger competitor, a better communicator, and a more well-rounded person. The Iowa women’s golf community is a group of fun and spirited women that I am proud to represent. I am excited to be a part of this fundraiser to help celebrate the past, present, and future of Iowa women’s golf through the 100th Iowa Women’s Amateur.”

Anna Jensen of Dubuque followed a similar path to Hoffman, excelling early and often. Jensen, a senior at the University of Northern Iowa, has been competing in IGA championships since her junior days. 2022 marked the biggest victory of her IGA career, capturing the Iowa Women’s Match Play Championship over fellow fundraising participant, Paige Hoffman. As a panther, Jensen’s career has been highlighted by frequent top-ten finishes including two top-fives this past fall.

“I am truly honored to represent Iowa women’s golf in this fundraiser for the 100th Women’s Amateur. I am a huge advocate for women’s sports, especially women’s golf, because I know first-hand the blessings playing competitive golf has given me. I grew up playing IGA events and specifically in the Women’s Am. Through it, I have learned so many valuable lessons and I have found so many lifelong friendships with my competitors. I think it is important to continue to grow the field and allow many more girls and women to be able to share in this amazing experience.”


Next week on Women’s Wednesday…

The Iowa Women’s Amateur is one of the toughest tests a player can face within the state borders. With a field made up of the top juniors, mid-amateurs, and seasoned veterans, it often requires many years and close calls for players to finally get their hands on the Fladoos trophy. For a select few, the wait didn’t last long, staking their claim in Iowa Women’s Amateur history all before receiving their high school diploma.

Includes championship history, weekly feature articles, player information, photo archives, past champions, and much more!

Featuring 100 Women – The Fladoos Trophy

The Fladoos Trophy – Iowa’s Trailblazing Sisters

It’s all in the family. Golfers often say that their family got them into the game whether it be parents, grandparents, or sometimes siblings. Numerous family members and sisters have added their names to the Iowa Women’s Amateur trophy in its 100-year history. But who was the first? The answer is simple; Sharon and Jacque Fladoos so it’s only fitting the trophy is now named the Fladoos Trophy.

Debuting in 1970, the Fladoos trophy was presented to Ann Griffel, president of the I.W.G.A. with the following message: “Our family has given thought to express in some manner its sincere appreciation for Iowa’s excellent annual golf Championships open to both juniors and adults.

The five members of our family have thoroughly enjoyed these championships in past years as participants and spectators. We feel it was through these championships our three children and the many other Iowa youngsters were given their first opportunity to test their golf games and upon which to build their golf reputations.

We would, therefore, like to present to the Iowa Women’s Golf Association in 1970- here at the Dubuque Golf and Country Club, site of the 44th Anniversary Championship- a perpetual silver trophy to be presented annually to the Iowa State Women’s Amateur Champion.”

Sharon (pictured right), the older of the two, began competing in IWGA and USGA championships from an early age. At just 13, she became the youngest golfer to advance to the U.S. Girls’ Junior semifinals. That same year, 1956, she would also be named runner-up at both the Iowa Girls’ Junior and Iowa Women’s Amateur. It was just the beginning as the Dubuque native quickly began her impressive seven-year run of amateur golf not only in Iowa but on the national stage.

Her 1958 and 1959 resume included back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Iowa Women’s Amateur as well as the Western Junior Girl’s Championship. Her runner-up finish in the 1958 Western Junior Girl’s Championship was to none other than future World Golf Hall of Famer Carol Mann. The streak of second-place finishes was finally broken in 1960 as she captured her first Iowa Women’s Amateur title and got her hands on the elusive Western Junior Girl’s title.

Even with her near misses, she still found a way to capture tournament titles. From 1958 to 1961, she captured both the Iowa Junior Girls and Iowa High School State Tournament titles each year. Finding comfort in defending her Iowa titles, Sharon kept the Iowa Women’s Amateur trophy under lock and key from 1960 to 1962 earning three straight victories.

While Sharon was busy building her decorated career, her younger sister Jacque (pictured right with Ann Griffel) followed along knowing she would have big shoes to fill. Always up for the challenge, Jacque quickly took the junior golf reins and extended the Fladoos family streak of High School State golf titles as she earned medalist honors in 1962 and 1963.

It wouldn’t be the last time she won the state title either, as she returned to championship form in 1965 to collect her third individual title. In her sophomore year of high school, Jacque matched another one of Sharon’s accomplishments; capturing both an individual High School State title and the Iowa Junior Girls’ Amateur within the same calendar year. Jacque’s record at the Iowa Women’s Amateur also mirrors that of Sharon as the younger Fladoos captured three total victories between 1966 and 1969.

Though separated by five years, Sharon and Jacque’s careers were nearly identical. Such as with the trophy naming, it was fitting both were inducted into the Dubuque Senior High School Hall of Fame (1992 and 1996) as well as the inaugural class for the Iowa Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2008).

While there have been two other sets of sisters to successfully capture Iowa Women’s Amateur titles, none have been more prolific than the Fladoos sisters. Though Jacque has passed away, her and Sharon’s legacy remains alive and well every time the Iowa Women’s Amateur rolls around. The Fladoos Trophy; was named in honor of the trailblazing sisters who guided women’s golf in Iowa to unchartered territory and new heights.

Next week on Women’s Wednesday…

Six women from six different cities with one thing in common: a love for the game. See how a passion for the game has inspired these players to grow the game for present and future players.

Includes championship history, weekly feature articles, player information, photo archives, past champions, and much more!

‘Up and Down’ the Iowa Golf Scene – Bouncing Back

Matthew Walker, with his mother, Camilla, off of South Beach in Miami. Camilla Walker has been with Matthew through every step of his health journey, including the donation of one her her a life-sustaining kidneys during a transplant in the spring of 2022.

The Calling Card for Ottumwa’s Matthew Walker in Quest to Reach Golf’s Highest Level

Golf immortal Bobby Jones famously coined the phrase “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball where it lies.”

Professional golfer Matthew Walker has already experienced more of life’s bad breaks than most do in a lifetime, yet he continues to play the ball where it lies as he pushes forward to fulfill a lifelong dream – to reach the PGA Tour.

Matthew Walker captured the 2019 Iowa Open in a playoff, shortly after graduating from the University of Iowa and turning professional.

The 26-year-old Ottumwa native and University of Iowa graduate heads to Latin America this spring to compete on the PGA Tour Americas, a merger between two former PGA developmental tours based in Latin America and Canada. The schedule features 16 events and $225,000 purses where the Top 10 finishers on the money list earn exemptions on the 2025 Korn Ferry Tour.

Now in his fifth season as a professional, Walker has made steady progress on his climb toward the game’s pinnacle, grinding through mini-tours, state-opens, pro-amateur events and Korn Ferry Tour qualifying. Last fall, he fired and 14-under par 270 to capture the Korn Ferry first stage qualifying event contested at the University of New Mexico’s championship course. He finished a few shots shy of advancing past the second stage and to the Korn Ferry finals, but his first stage victory earned him playing status on this season’s PGA Tour Americas.

“Everybody out here who plays the game for a living can bomb the driver and can hit great iron shots,” Walker said recently during a telephone interview with Up and Down the Iowa Golf Scene. “What makes the difference is the ability to get the ball in the hole, take advantage of the Par 5’s, minimize mistakes and being strong mentally.”

As he continues to sharpen his game, the 2019 Iowa Open champion is focusing on course management and the mental aspect as the margins among players become smaller and smaller at higher levels.

“You have to manage your bad rounds to come out around par and not shoot yourself out of contention,” he remarked. “You cannot give away shots and stay competitive. And you have to be comfortable at staying aggressive when getting it way under par because you have to be way under for high finishes.”

Matthew Walker is all smiles after capturing the Wigwam Championship on the Golden State Tour in January of 2020, just prior to the pandemic putting a hold on his PGA Tour aspirations.

Life tossed its initial curveball at Walker when he was a toddler. At 18 months, he was diagnosed with a Wilms Tumor on his left kidney, a childhood cancer that strikes one in 10,000 youngsters. Eight surgeries, nine months of chemotherapy and six radiation treatments followed, including the removal of his kidney. He gradually gained strength and function. At age five, his father, Bill, introduced Matthew to golf and he was soon hooked. With his father as the teacher and mentor, Walker improved rapidly playing the Cedar Creek Golf Course in Ottumwa. By the age of ten, Walker started competing in Iowa PGA Section and Iowa Golf Association junior events and eventually earned Player of the Year honors.

As a prep, Walker starred at the tradition-rich Ottumwa High School, where the Bulldogs have captured 11 state golf tournament titles and seven runner-up finishes. He was a four-time first-team all-state selection and captured a pair of Class 4A state individual championships, the first as a sophomore in the 2012-13 season and the second as a senior in the 2014-2015 campaign. He shot identical 36-hole totals of 141 to claim the titles, and both events were played at the Tournament Club of Iowa. Walker nearly made it three championships as he lost a playoff to Ankeny Centennial’s Griffin Matthias during his junior season. In addition to the state title, Walker captured medalist honors at all 12 meets as a senior.

Due to his decorated high school and junior golf career, Walker had several options to play college golf, including the University of Arizona and the University of Illinois, but he followed his heart to the University of Iowa. As a Hawkeye, Walker starred for Coach Tyler Stith’s program for four years, including being named to the Ping All-Midwest Regional team, a tie for sixth at the Big Ten championships, co-medalist at the Hawkeye Invitational and posting a career stroke average of 73.09 over 122 rounds.

It was during Walker’s junior season at Iowa when life hurled another major setback. His father, Bill, collapsed while working out on the treadmill at home and passed away in January of 2018 at the age of 61. Bill Walker had been Matthew’s mentor, coach, best friend and had walked the fairways at virtually all of his golf tournaments to lend his support.

“Dad’s passing taught me about perspective and priorities and that golf is really just a game,” Walker said. “I miss him dearly and carry his legacy with me.”

Midway through his senior season at Iowa, Walker began experiencing some back pain. As it gradually worsened, he suspected it might be related to his childhood kidney issues as it forced him to miss a handful of events. His lone kidney typically functioned at 70 percent, and then it was rated at 40 percent. Keeping a watchful eye on his health, Walker graduated from Iowa with a degree in business administration, turned professional and began his pursuit of playing the PGA Tour.

He roared out of the blocks quickly, capturing the 2019 Iowa Open at Blue Top Ridge by firing a 13-under-par 203 and defeating Gavin Hall of Palm Beach Gardens, FL in a playoff. A few months later, Walker broke through on the Golden State Tour by winning the Wigwam Championship in a 3-way playoff, birdieing four of the final five holes and pocketing the $11,000 winner’s check.

Bill and Camillia Walker have been Mathew’s biggest supporters. Bill Walker passed away unexpectedly in 2018.

Just as his pro career was taking flight, life’s bad breaks resurfaced. First, the pandemic year of 2020 limited playing opportunities while regular checkups indicated Walker’s lone kidney was continuing to lose effectiveness. Then in September of that year, Walker collapsed during a practice session while on the range back home at the Ottumwa Country Club. An MRI revealed the source of his lingering back pain; he had a walnut-sized benign tumor on his T11 vertebrae. The tumor was removed during a successful procedure at the University of Iowa Hospitals, followed by a several month recovery process.

And recover he did during the 2021 year, highlighted by capturing the Nebraska Open in record fashion, firing a 54-hole total of 195, including a sizzling ten-under par 61 in the opening round. Walker joined fellow Iowan Ken Schall as the only players to capture both the Iowa and Nebraska Opens. Even more remarkable was the fact that Walker claimed the title with his lone kidney functioning at 19 percent capacity, barely above the cut line for needing dialysis.

In January of 2022, back in Arizona and again gaining momentum in his professional golf career, Walker once again faced a roadblock. His Whoop band indicated a resting heart rate at 90 beats per minute as the clock had run out on his lone kidney. He immediately began life-saving dialysis in Arizona, then shortly thereafter flew back to Iowa and began a three day per week dialysis regimen at Ottumwa Regional Hospital. His mother, Camilla Walker, a retired mathematics teacher at Indian Hills Community College, had long planned to become Matthew’s kidney donor, should he need it.

The time was now, and the five-hour transplant surgery took place at The Mayo Clinic in March of 2022. The procedure was successful, and by summer Matthew had resumed his playing career. In his first outing back from kidney transplant, the Albia, IA Pro-Am, Walker shot 11-under and resumed chasing his dream.

Through all the hardship and side effects, which include taking eight anti-rejection medications twice daily, Walker remains upbeat. He is ready to pursue playing opportunities on the PGA Tour Americas and beyond.

“I see many guys out here who are finished for the day after one or two bad shots,” he said. “I’ve learned that you have to be resilient, fight through adversity, and keep going. Professional golf can drag you to places you do not want to be, should you let it. I’m not going to let a bad round, or a bad break, whether on or off the course, keep me from pursuing my dreams.”

“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
At 88 Years Young, Cleo Brown Remains a Fixture at the Principal Charity Classic, IGA Events
Love of the Game, Service to Others Propel Charlie Taylor to IGA’s 2023 George Turner Award

100th Iowa Women’s Amateur Preview

2024 marks more than just the 100th playing of the Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship. It is also a celebration of the history of women’s golf in Iowa. Over the next 20 weeks leading up to the championship, we will be celebrating the stories and lives of 100 women who have made lasting impacts on the course as well as in their communities. Check in each Wednesday for a new release!

Dating back to its inception in 1922, the Iowa Women’s Amateur has crowned many deserving champions and served as a springboard for numerous current and future, Iowa Golf Hall of Famers. The accomplishments of those whose names fill the Fladoos trophy include three Curtis Cup participants, three Western Women’s Amateur champions, and numerous All-Americans, just to name a few.

Sunnyside Country Club in Waterloo has been a central piece to the history of the Iowa Women’s Amateur. The club was the inaugural host of the championship. The Centennial edition of the event will also mark an unprecedented 10th time that the club has served as host as women from across Iowa again gather to try and etch their name on the Fladoos trophy.

Defending champions often feel at home when teeing it at Sunnyside. Six players claimed their second title in a row (Waterman 1925, Robinson 1933, Estabrooks 1937, Cordingley 1948, Johnstone 1954, and Paulson 2011) at the Waterloo course. While it might be easy to say the venue favors the defending champions, Beth Duenow (1995) and Margaret Addington (1922) have proven that isn’t always the case as the par-72 layout saw each claim their maiden Iowa Women’s Amateur title.

A mix of doglegs, long par fours, and risk-reward par fives give players a chance to showcase their shot-shaping abilities and capitalize on their length. But where the championships are won, and sometimes lost, is on the putting greens. With elevated greens and undulation that trick even the most seasoned veterans, attention to the smallest of details will be required for all players. Though Sunnyside has since changed venues from its home in 1922, the championship presence remains strong from the moment players step on the first tee.

Initially starting in 1922, the Iowa Women’s Golf Association (I.W.G.A.) was formed on August 30th at the Sunnyside Country Club. Two days later, the first Iowa Women’s Amateur champion was crowned as Waterloo’s very own Margaret Addington defeated Mrs. Frank C. Byers of Cedar Rapids 4 & 3. The following year marked the second and final year of the event being invite-only. But the match-play format held strong for the first 32 years of the championship before changing to medal play competition in 1957.

In the eighth year of the championship, Lucile Robinson Mann (pictured right) captured her first Iowa Women’s Amateur title, but it would be far from her last. Dominant in Iowa, especially in the 1930’s, Mann reeled off four straight victories from 1931-1934 with her 1933 title coming at Sunnyside. Though many have tried, her record of four straight victories remains intact. Pursuing the highest level of amateur golf, Lucile’s game traveled and traveled well en route to her capturing the 1933 Women’s Western Amateur over reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion Virginia Van Wie. Just a year later, she became the first Iowa woman to be named to the Curtis Cup Team, the pinnacle of amateur golf for women.

Continuing to add to her Hall of Fame career, she made the team yet again two years later in 1936, but was unable to participate due to her wedding. Seven years after her final Iowa Women’s Amateur title, Mann proved she belonged with the best of the best as she won her second Women’s Western Amateur and lone Trans-Mississippi Women’s Amateur. Mann became the fifth woman inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame when she was enshrined in 1995.

Iowa has long been home to many talented women’s golfers who excel both at the state and national levels. Ann Casey Johnstone wasn’t born a household name but quickly became one after claiming her first Iowa Women’s Amateur in 1941, which would kickstart an impressive two-decade-long run in amateur golf. Ten years following her first victory in the event, Johnstone captured her second state title. The wait for her third wouldn’t take nearly as long as she reeled off four more between 1954 to 1959.

Her record of six Iowa Women’s Amateur titles, which has been matched by just one other player, Corkey Nydle, made her a household name in Iowa. But she was also known across the country after recording a quarterfinal, two semifinals, and a runner-up finish at the U.S. Women’s Amateur between 1956 and 1960. In 1958, she joined the aforementioned Lucile Robinson Mann as Iowans selected to represent the United States on the Curtis Cup team. It would be the first of three call-ups for Johnstone as she was also selected in 1960 and 1962.

Continuing to dive further into the history of the Iowa Women’s Amateur, one will see the name Corkey Nydle (pictured right) time and time again. Nydle’s reach extends beyond her competitive career, one that lasted nearly 50 years, as she was also a board member for the I.W.G.A. for over 30 years. Corkey proved that age is nothing but a number after collecting her first Iowa Women’s Amateur title in 1953 at the young age of 17. She did so again, 19 years later hoisting the trophy at Crow Valley Country Club in Bettendorf. Even more impressive than the gap between her first and last was the fact she claimed five of them in 10 years beginning in 1963. An intricate part of the history of women’s golf in Iowa led to Nydle being a member of the inaugural class of the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame in 1989. Corkey played her 46th and final Iowa Women’s Amateur in 2003, proving once again that age is nothing but a number.

With the shift from match play to stroke play, the door opened for new records to be created each time the championship teed off. No single championship record stands out more than the performance Kristin Paulson put on in 2011 as she captured her second straight title after firing a staggering 14-under par 202. Sunnyside was no match for the soon-to-be senior at Iowa State as she turned the course into a personal playground.Firing at pins and raking in birdie after birdie, Paulson turned in a dazzling nine-under-par 63 in the second round. Her second round saw her jump not only into the lead but into the IGA record books as the lowest single round in championship history.

Now, 2024 marks more than just the 100th playing of this great championship. It is also a celebration of the history of women’s golf in Iowa. Over the next 20 weeks leading up to the championship, we will be celebrating the stories and lives of 100 women who have made lasting impacts on the course as well as in their communities. Check in each Wednesday for a new release.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE IOWA WOMEN’S AMATEUR HOMEPAGE (heck, might as well bookmark it!)

Next week on Women’s Wednesday…

It’s all in the family. Golfers hear and say often that their family got them into the game. Numerous family members and sisters have added their names to the Iowa Women’s Amateur trophy in its 100-year history. But who was the first? We take a look at the sisters who built their careers alongside each other and took sibling rivalry to a whole new level.

Egly, Iowa Section honored by PGA of America

(Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America)

The Iowa PGA Section recently earned the 2024 Herb Graffis Award (shown above), given annually to one of the 41 PGA of America Sections that has shown tireless dedication to grow the game of golf and furthering player-development programming in the community.

The Iowa PGA Section, led by President Erin Strieck, PGA, and Executive Director Greg Mason, PGA, has delivered quality golf programming that has helped grow the game for over 40 years. The Section has implemented many programs with a focus on youth, including Swing with Kids Golf in Schools, in which a PGA of America Golf Professional adopts a local School District and supports the Physical Education Teachers in elementary and middle schools to teach golf and life skills. The program has more than doubled in size over the past five years and now serves over 25,000 students. Iowa’s PGA Jr. League program is the number-one program by growth percentage across all PGA of America Sections in number of players as well as teams.

The Iowa PGA Section is also supporting local military Veterans with their GIVE (Golf for Injured Veterans Everywhere) program, where PGA of America Professionals teach the game of golf to Veterans as part of their rehabilitation. The program has supported more than 2,300 Veterans since its inception. Iowa PGA Junior Tour events were hosted by 67 percent of the facilities within the Section in 2023. Additionally, the Iowa PGA has remained number one across all Sections on the percentage of membership for PGA of America Golf professionals certified through ADM and, completing training and certification in 2023.

PGA of America President John Lindert greets the 2024 PGA of America Deacon Palmer Award recipient Mark Egly, PGA on the Industry Stage during the 2024 PGA of America National Award presentation at the PGA Show at Orange County Convention Center on Wednesday, January 24, 2024 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America)

Mark Egly, PGA, Head Golf Professional for the past 30 years at Des Moines Driving Range in Des Moines, was selected for the 2024 Deacon Palmer Award, which honors a PGA of America Golf Professional who displays outstanding integrity, character, and leadership in the effort to overcome a major obstacle in their life. A PGA of America Member for 40 years, Egly’s entire golf career has been impacted by health issues, beginning with a serious car accident in 1990 that left him with severe nerve damage in his shoulder, significantly limiting the use of his right arm.

After taking a few years off from the game, he came back and played well enough to even qualify for the 1995 John Deere Classic, but then suffered two more accidents resulting in serious injuries. Hardly the end of his health issues, Egly was diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, which causes a lack of oxygen, resulting in low energy, exhaustion, breathing problems, and a lack of natural pain management. Despite never having smoked, Egly was diagnosed with COPD and emphysema in 2018.

Furthermore, in 2018, doctors found a tumorous spot on Mark’s pancreas and he was given only a 30 percent chance of surviving six months; the tumor significantly reduced without chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Still, Egly remains motivated and dedicated to golf. With a healthy lifestyle, synced with food protocols and weekly infusions, he has overcome or improved some of his health issues, while focusing on teaching the game and purchasing a driving range. Since becoming a PGA of America Golf Professional in 1983, Egly has exhibited an exceptional level of service and unwavering commitment to the success of others.

Egly was named to the 2023 GRAA (Golf Range Association of America) Growth of the Game Teaching Professionals Elite Member Status, with Des Moines Driving Range being named a 2023 GRAA Top 50 Stand Alone Facility. He has been deeply involved in creating a safe haven for children through various youth programs, getting at-risk children on the golf course at no cost and has collaborated with the United States Golf Association, equipment manufacturers, the Iowa Section PGA, the PGA of America and the National Golf Foundation on many occasions to further provide opportunities for youth to enjoy the game.

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