Featuring 100 Women: The Enduring Legacy of Ann Casey Johnstone

The Enduring Legacy of Ann Casey Johnstone

In the 100-year history of the Iowa Women’s Amateur, few have left as permanent of a mark as Ann Casey Johnstone. The Mason City native is one of only two females to capture the championship six times, and her final title came at none other than Mason City Country Club. The 18-hole track, which she called home, helped her hone her skills and shape her into a household name not only in Iowa but on the national level.

Members of the 1960 U.S. Curtis Cup team which included Judy Bell, Judy Eller, Joanne Goodwin, JoAnne Gunerson, Ann Casey Johnstone, Barbara McIntire, Anne Quast and Mildred Prunaret, Captain.

Johnstone commenced her amateur career with a significant victory at the 1941 Iowa Women’s Amateur, marking the onset of a remarkable two-decade tenure in amateur golf. Accumulating an impressive total of six Iowa Women’s Amateur championships, alongside national recognition and multiple appearances at the Curtis Cup, Johnstone emerged as one of the state’s most distinguished players. Capturing the pinnacle title of Iowa Women’s Golf in 1941 was just the beginning as she went on to claim the 1951, 1954, 1955, and 1957 championships before her sixth and final.

Notably, Johnstone’s national prominence soared in 1956 with victories at the Palm Beach Invitational and a semifinal finish at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, leading to her acknowledgment as the nation’s top female golfer in 1957, albeit humorously dubbed her “Bridesmaid Year” due to several runner-up finishes.

Throughout her illustrious career, she clinched notable titles including the Trans-Mississippi and North and South championships in 1959, alongside representing the United States in the prestigious Curtis Cup in 1958, 1960, and 1962. Transitioning to coaching at Stephens College in 1964, Johnstone’s legacy continued to thrive, earning accolades such as LPGA Coach of the Year and induction into multiple golfing halls of fame, cementing her status as a revered figure in the world of golf.

Ann Casey Johnstone with the 1957 U.S. Women’s Amateur trophy.

Her sixth and final state title, secured in 1959 at Mason City Country Club, held special significance for her, being her hometown course where she was honored as a lifetime member two years prior. While Ann Casey Johnstone passed away in 2014, her legacy continues to live on not only in Mason City, but for the next generation of Iowa’s young golf stars.

Beginning in 2024, the Iowa Junior Girls’ Amateur and Iowa Women’s Amateur champion will receive an exemption into the respective USGA National Championship (U.S. Junior Girls & U.S. Women’s Amateur). With the generosity of Johnstone’s children (Jean Ann & Joseph Grabias) and nephew (Casey Martin), the winner of each championship will receive the Ann Casey Johnstone sponsorship. Thus far, her family has raised $5,000 in Ann’s honor to help alleviate the unexpected costs surrounding travel and lodging at these national championships.

Ann Casey Johnstone’s legacy endures through this honorary donation and her distinguished tenure at Mason City Country Club. Interestingly, a fresh “Legacy” is emerging at MCCC.

In late 2022, the Pritchard Companies acquired Mason City Country Club, renaming it “Legacy Golf Course” in honor of the owner’s father, Joe Pritchard, who had a deep connection to the club. A comprehensive renovation project commenced, beginning with drainage improvements led by a team of engineers, including the installation of over a mile of main tile and three holding ponds to address persiste

nt drainage issues. Subsequently, Kevin Norby developed a master plan based on the original 1915 Thomas Bendelow design, featuring new greens, holes, bunkering, irrigation

system, maintenance facility, and tee boxes. Construction is currently underway, with Dunnick overseeing bunker and green shaping on the front nine, while play continues on the back nine. Additionally, a 5,000 square foot Pavilion overlooking the course has been constructed, serving as an interim clubhouse and future public multipurpose facility.

To learn more about the course restoration, Tom Bendelow’s vision, and Ann Casey Johnstone’s life & career, click here.

Next Week on Women’s Wednesday…

Commending the impressive golf achievements of Iowa’s past players.

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