Featuring 100 Women: Unmatched Victors

Triumphant Women Making Waves in Iowa’s Golf Scene

Iowa Golf history is rich with the remarkable achievements of women who have reached the pinnacle of success. From dominating state championships to earning national recognition, these trailblazing golfers have set new standards of excellence. Their dedication, skill, and perseverance have not only earned them titles but also inspired future generations of female athletes. Delve into the stories of these extraordinary women, celebrating their contributions to the sport and their lasting legacy in Iowa Golf.

Leanne Smith

Leanne Smith is no stranger to IGA events. She grew up playing in the Iowa Junior Girls’ Amateur and even represented Iowa at the 1999 Junior Girls’ Four-State tournament. Her success within the state in the last six years has been nothing short of remarkable. The Indianola resident has a knack for the match play format as she has captured five different match play event titles since 2019.

Kicking off her flurry of match play championships was the 2019 IGA Women’s Match Play at Tournament Club of Iowa. En route to her maiden victory, the mid-amateur took down a slew of collegiate players, including future Iowa Women’s Amateur champion Joy Chou of Iowa State. The following year, she once again dismantled the collegiate players in the field to capture her second straight title. Her third consecutive title came in similar fashion, capturing the title 3 & 2 over UNI Panther Anna Jensen. During both the 2020 and 2021 Smith was named the IGA Women’s Player of the Year, a nod to her consistent play all year long.

The same year, 2021, marked the first year Smith was eligible for the Iowa Women’s Forever 39 Match Play Championship. The nine hole format is a great fit for Smith who is known to jump out to early leads. After claiming the first three holes in the championship match, a par on the sixth was all that was left for Smith to claim the title. She would go on to claim her second title at the championship to kick off the 2024 season.

Perhaps the pinnacle of Smith’s career has been qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, a feat she has accomplished each of the of the last three seasons. During both the 2021 and 2022 Smith was able to reach the match play portion of the championship before bowing out.

Rose Kubesheski

Once the game of golf came into Rose Kubesheski’s life, it did not leave. Kubesheski did not start playing golf until she was older, but her successful resume makes people feel otherwise. The Dubuque resident has won the Forever 39 Match Play twice, the Senior Division of the IGA Women’s Four-Ball six times, and the Iowa Senior Women’s Amateur an outstanding seven times. From 2010 to 2017, there were only two years where she did not win the Iowa Senior Women’s Amateur. Additionally, Kubesheski has taken her game to the national level. Rose qualified for 1995, 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, 2010 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur in 2017, 2022, and 2023. Her consistent play over the whole season has earned her the Iowa Senior Women’s Player of the Year title five times and a Leahy Medal nine times. However, one of the most impressive feats of her game may be her passion for walking the links. No matter the weather or the course, Rose loves to walk which is a rare trait to find today.

Kubesheski’s contribution to Iowa golf is not limited to her playing ability. She served as Dubuque Senior High School’s head girls’ golf coach for several years. In this role, Kubesheski was able to grow the women’s game in Iowa and show young girls how special the game of golf is. Additionally, she is a committed IGA volunteer. She currently serves on the IGA Board of Directors and three committees: the Women’s Rules and Competitions Committee, the Ann Griffel Scholarship Committee, and the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. Her competitive spirit, heart for the game, and service make Iowa golf better each year. 

Anita Harsch

With the last name of Harsh, it only made sense that Burlington’s Anita Harsh toppled the field at the 1975 Iowa Women’s Amateur. Her 72-hole total of 229 was a staggering 11 shots better than runner-up Linda Frisch. Opening with rounds of 75 and 73, Harsch left little doubt that she was the player to beat. At the halfway point of the championship, Mason City Country Club had yielded just eight rounds under 80.

Round three brought Harsch closer to her competitors as she turned in her highest score of the championship with an 81. Even with her struggles, she still led by seven strokes going into the final 18 holes. There was little doubt that she would surrender her lead and those who thought she might were quickly silenced as she birdied the first two holes. She kept her foot on the pedal and birdied the fifth, seventh, and eighth, turning in an impressive four-under-par 33.

Her lone blemishes were on the 9th and 12th as she recorded bogey, but she quickly bounced back stringing together five pars and a birdie on the 17th. Shooting even par on the closing nine allowed her to shave ten strokes off her third round, concluding the championship with a three-under-par 71. Harsch’s victory at Iowa’s premier women’s championship would be her lone victory. Still, she had to fight off a stacked leaderboard that featured three previous champions in Corkey Nydle, Linda Frisch, and defending champion Susan Shinn.

Jean Mowry

Golf is meant to be played for a lifetime. For some, success is experienced early whether it be as a junior, collegiate player, or into their early mid-amateur days. For others, success is found and sustained in the latter half of their career. Jean Mowry is the latter.

Hailing from Webster City, Mowry found success in the late 1990s and rode the momentum for half a dozen years, collecting numerous titles along the way. Between 1999 and 2005, Mowry won seven straight Iowa Senior Women’s Amateur titles and was named the Senior Medalist, awarded after the first round, a remarkable four times. During that stretch, Mowry proved that she was lethal not only in stroke play competition but in match play as well. She captured the Iowa Women’s Forever 39 Match Play Championship three consecutive years between 2002 and 2004.

Even more remarkable than her ten victories was that all but two were hosted at various venues. Her ability to play well under pressure at a slew of different courses and playing styles cemented her as a senior legend in the history of Iowa Women’s Golf.

Barbara Berkmeyer

Barbara (Bubany) Berkmeyer’s golf career spans over six decades. Born in Fort Madison, she started playing golf at age four under her father Frank’s guidance. After moving to Ottumwa in 1952, she participated in the 1954 Southeast Iowa Women’s Championship at age 10, later winning it in 1965. Berkmeyer made a name for herself in Missouri after winning the 1962 St. Louis Women’s District Golf Association Junior Girls’ Championship, earning the first women’s athletic scholarship at the University of Missouri.

She won her first Missouri Women’s Golf Association State Championship at 21 and went on to win four more titles. Competing in 11 USGA Championships, she was runner-up in the 2002 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur and the 2002 Canadian Ladies National Senior Championship and won the Missouri Senior Women’s Amateur title 13 times. Berkmeyer also had a 25-year career as a middle school teacher and has been inducted into the St. Louis, Missouri, and University of Missouri Sports Halls of Fame.

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