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.

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