Ankeny | Inducted 2023 | Category: Golf Professional / Teacher
Ankeny’s Kevin Beard not only was a familiar face at Otter Creek Golf Course (1990-2017) and Ankeny Country Club (1991-1993) for over 25 years, Beard also helped shape countless junior golfers into some of the state’s best.
Beard’s ‘Operation State Champ’ program for junior golfers began in 1997 and was designed to improve the performance of golfers in the area to the point that they would be able to qualify and compete for a state championship. The program involved both summer and winter golf activities, with indoor practice throughout the winter as the biggest change in their practice routine.
The ‘Winter Program’ started with 12 players, all from Ankeny, housed in the old clubhouse at Otter Creek GC. Within three years word had spread and the program had over 60 juniors from numerous high schools and junior highs across central Iowa.
The program had to move to a bigger building as the demand grew. Beard then transformed an old fire station that would become home to the program for the next 10 years. Within a few more years, the number of students grew to over 200 in the winter, with the summer junior program introducing golf to nearly 300 kids each year. At one point a total of 28 schools were represented from as far away as Carroll and Pella.
Beard’s involvement in the program ceased in 2009, due to his focus shifting to the ‘new’ golf course and clubhouse at Otter Creek GC, which he also served as General Manager of at that time. There was no official count, but Beard and his program are credited with helping over 400 players appear at the state tournament – including those who have gone on to become PGA Professionals with their own junior golf programs.
“Kevin instilled character and integrity when teaching our youth what golf teaches us about life,” Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member Jeff Smith said. “He grew the game through ways that are now being adopted 25 years later.”
Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member J.D. Turner also commented on Beard’s energy with junior golfers.
“His creativity and teaching prowess with juniors is remarkable,” Turner said. “All of his students learned about the game, which teaches honor, friendship and life-long positive experiences. He touched the lives of so many in Iowa through golf.”