‘Up and Down’ the Iowa Golf Scene – McCoy, Norton Put Iowa Stamp on Florida Senior Golf
Claim Senior, Super Senior Amateur Titles in Sunshine State
The most decorated amateur in Iowa golf history and a veteran senior player with vast experience in Iowa Golf Association and USGA events are collectively making a substantial impact on senior golf in the state of Florida.
Mike McCoy (right), who later this year will captain the United States’ Walker Cup team in competition against Great Britain-Ireland at The Old Course in St. Andrews, has positioned himself high atop the leaderboards at recent Florida Senior Amateur and Florida Senior Open championships.
McCoy captured the 61st Florida Senior Amateur title in April of 2022 by firing a 54-hole total of 212 for a two-shot victory in the championship contested at Avila Golf and Country Club in Tampa. Among those chasing McCoy was former NFL quarterback Vinny Testeverde, who tied for 15th with a 222 total. McCoy remains in the hunt to defend his title in 2023 after shooting an opening round 72, one shot out of the lead, during action played April 11 at the Lago Mar Country Club in Plantation, FL. Heavy rains washed out play and tournament officials have postponed the final two rounds until October.
Most recently, McCoy notched a strong showing at the 46th Florida Senior Open Championship held May 1-3, 2023, at Lakewood National Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch, FL. In a strong field featuring senior professionals and top amateurs, McCoy fired a 54-hole total of 212 to tie for fourth place and just two shots back of the victor, Shannon Sykora. A balky putter amid difficult pin positions during the final round hampered McCoy’s championship bid. Sykora is a former Korn Ferry Tour player and current women’s golf coach at Florida Gulf Coast University. In 2022, McCoy shot a 215 total to tie for 11th at the Florida State Senior Open.
“Competing in Florida senior events has opened up a new avenue of competition for me,” said McCoy recently. “I always enjoy playing in a field made up of the best amateurs and professionals and that certainly is the case with senior golf in Florida. I am very proud of the Florida State Amateur victory and sank some big putts down the stretch. I look forward to competing in these events in the future.”
The 11-time IGA Player of the Year is now a resident of North Palm Beach, FL. McCoy is a veteran of 65 USGA championships, including a victory at the 2013 Mid-Amateur Championship, which punched his ticket to participate in the 2014 Masters. He added to a deep golf pedigree by winning the R&A Senior Amateur in 2022 at Royal Dornoch. He will captain the 10-member Walker Cup team to Scotland on September 2-3, 2023 at St. Andrews.
Norton (right) captured the 2023 Florida State Golf Association’s Super Senior Championship in dramatic fashion. A Muscatine resident who spends the winter months in Reunion, FL., Norton fired rounds of 71-73-75 for a 219 total to tie Mike Barkley of Belleaire, FL. He then sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a sudden death playoff to capture the title, contested in late March at the Country Club of Ocala in Ocala, FL. Norton saw a four-shot lead evaporate during the final round, but hung on by parring the final eight holes in regulation to earn the playoff berth. “I kept myself in position and managed to avoid any big numbers, which is the key to being competitive in a 54-hole stroke play tournament,” said Norton. “I wound up making six birdies against nine bogies while maintaining a positive frame of mind throughout the event.”
A veteran contender in IGA senior events over the years, Norton captured his inaugural IGA championship last year by defeating Tom Schill in the finals of the Super Senior Match Play at Fort Dodge Country Club. He fell just short of defending his title by losing to Dave Gaer in the finals of this year’s match play event at Lake Panorama.
Not bad for a one-time farmer who did not play college golf and was just a 12 handicapper through his 40’s until hip replacement surgery unlocked a dramatic improvement in his golf game. By the time he was eligible for the Senior Division, Norton was parring the golf course and ready for IGA and USGA competition.
Norton is among a handful of Iowans who have competed in the US Senior Open Championship. In 2010, he captured the sectional qualifier with a round of 72 at Hunter’s Ridge in Marion to earn a slot in the 156-player field. He failed to qualify for the final two rounds in the event contested at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, WA. While not intimidated by the big stage, Norton kept his sense of humor. “I made a trip to Wal-Mart before the start of the opening round to buy a bunch of cheap golf gloves, figuring I’d be handing a bunch of them out to spectators after wayward tee shots,” he quipped.
Norton advanced through the USGA Senior Amateur sectional qualifier in 2013 by firing a 71 at Brooks Golf Club in Okoboji. He shot a 151 to move to the round of 64 match play at the national level played at Wade Hampton Golf Club in Cashiers, NC., where veteran USGA senior contestant George Zahringer of New York defeated him 3 & 2. He also has international experience, having competed in a pair of British Senior Amateur championships, including a tie for 30th performance in 2014 at the Ganton Golf Club.
“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