Featuring 100 Women: Success Through the Ages

Etched on the Thye & Fladoos Trophies

Winning an amateur tournament is not a small feat. However, women in Iowa have proven that they can do it, and some have done it multiple times throughout their careers. Iowa’s history is rich with individuals who have shown their passion and talent for the game throughout their entire career. Looking through history, their achievements have not only brought them personal glory but have also inspired generations to come who tee it up at the Iowa Girls’ Junior and Iowa Women’s Amateur.

In 1976, Dorea Mitchell kicked off her impressive amateur career. Shooting a four-round total of 301, Mitchell won the Iowa Girls’ Junior Amateur. It was just the beginning for the Grinnell native. The following year, 1977, Mitchell successfully defended her title at Sac City Country Club. Even more impressive than her defense, was the way she did it. Posting 301, she captured the title by an astonishing 11 shots and was just one stroke off the championship record. It made sense as the 1977 championship was conducted at her home track of Grinnell Country Club.

Just a year later Mitchell was playing in the Iowa Women’s Amateur. The University of Oklahoma standout had a two-shot lead going into the final round. Even with her lead, it still came down to the final hole, but Mitchell refused to succumb to the pressure. On the 18th, Mitchell was able to hit a tee shot right in the fairway allowing her to get on the green and two-putt for par. Mitchell won the Iowa Women’s Amateur shooting 304, beating her opponent Bobbe Carney by two and etching her name on the Fladoos trophy.

Just two years later Michell was again in the 1980 Iowa Women’s Amateur. Playing in another nail-biter round, Mitchell got on an impressive birdie streak, allowing her to break away from the competition. Although Mitchell won the Amateur, she was most excited that her round included only 27 putts, and it significantly contributed to her championship victory.

Fast forward to 1997, a new name was emerging in Iowa golf: Patricia Martinson. She was already making a name for herself in Iowa and would be a prominent figure in college golf. Playing in, being the medalist on the Iowa Four-State team and winning the Iowa Girls’ Junior Amateur in 1997, were just some of Martinson’s youth accomplishments. Her accomplishments would continue when she attended Charleston South University and was named Big South Champion and Player of the Year in 1999 and 2000.

Later in 2000, Martinson would compete in the Iowa Women’s Amateur, making it her sixth time participating. Just a year before Martinson had placed second in the 1999 Iowa Women’s Am, losing in a playoff to Stacy Berman. A year later the two were at it again, and Martinson was determined to come away with the victory. Not knowing where she stood throughout the round, it all came down to the last hole. Making a 5-foot putt for par secured the win for Martinson, and after five previous attempts, Martinson was an Iowa Women’s Amateur Champion. Apart from her amateur career, Martinson has an impressive resume away from the course. Martinson continued to give back to the game as she became a member of the LPGA and served as the University of North Carolina’s assistant head coach.

As Martinson’s success highlighted her perseverance and skillfulness, another golfer was preparing to make her mark on the Iowa golf scene. In 2002, there was a different type of championship. Sarah Gilbert, an Iowa State golfer, won the Iowa Girls’ Junior Amateur in 1999, and three years later Gilbert was ready. Shooting a 75 on the first day, Gilbert sat fifth on the leaderboard. In the second round, Gilbert shot an impressive 68, the low round for the tournament. In her final round, Gilbert shot even par, making a runaway for the championship. She claimed her lone Iowa Women’s Amateur title dominantly, capturing a seven shot victory over future champion Jenny Heinz.

While Gilbert’s dominance was impressive, another inspiring story emerged on the Iowa golf scene. Many who win championships are lifelong players of the game. That was not the same for Sierra Hargens. Hargens was first a softball player but was inspired by her father to try and play the game. Her success was apparent when she won the 2015 Iowa Girls’ Junior Amateur. Finding herself trailing first-round leader Karli Kerrigan by just a stroke, she opened up the back nine with an eagle on the par five 10th to draw even. A birdie on the 13th would put her ahead for good, as she captured the Betty Thye trophy by just a single stroke, and her first Iowa championship.

Two years later, the then-Indiana State University golfer was ready to win the Iowa Women’s Amateur. Taking it one shot at a time, Hargens was ready for the win. Holding onto the lead, Hargens looked poised to cruise through the back nine. An untimely double bogey opened the door for her closest opponents, but quickly regrouping, Hargens made the most of having wedge in her hand on the 17th and 18th. Closing with back-to-back birdies, the Cedar Rapids native secured her first Iowa Women’s Amateur title. Winning the event by four strokes, Hargens showed that it is not always experience that helps you, but confidence and grit.

Additional champions of both the Iowa Junior Girls’ and Iowa Women’s Amateur include:
Jessie Sindlinger
Kristin Paulson
Jenny Heinz
Becky Biehl
Susan Shinn
Melanie Schuller
Jacque Fladoos
Sharon Fladoos
Andy Cohn

Next Week on Women’s Wednesday…

Closing out the final weekly feature, look back on seven past champions and the mark they made on the Iowa Women’s Amateur.

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