Clear Lake & Humboldt | Inducted 2020 | Category: Player / Administrator
John Benda’s impact on the game of golf far outreaches the borders of Iowa.
Growing up in Clear Lake and then Humboldt, Benda had a fondness of the game of golf early on. He would captain both his high school team in Humboldt in 1965 and then the 1967-1969 Iowa State men’s golf team. From 1969-1986 Benda worked with the ISU Cyclone Country Junior Golf Camp and from 1971-1986 was a professional instructor. Over those 17 years he is credited with teaching the game to approximately 2,400 junior players.
While teaching the game to so many, Benda also played on various professional tours around the world, finishing high several times. Benda toured until 2011 making stops along the Asian Golf Circuit/Asian Golf Tour, the European Tour, the Australian/New Zealand Tour and the European Senior Tour. Benda twice qualified for the The Open Championship (1979, 1980) and claimed victories at the 1973 Iowa Open and 1985 Waterloo Open.
“This is a huge honor,” Benda said on receiving news of his induction into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame. “I have always considered myself as an Iowan. I was born, raised and learned the game in Iowa. Golf was special in the generation and time I grew up in. To be part of this (Iowa Golf Hall of Fame) is overwhelming and to be recognized is emotional for me.”
Benda’s greatest achievement and impact in golf was his role in growing professional golf in Asia.
“John Benda, when he arrived in 1972, started to spread the word to U.S. pros to come play the Asian Circuit,” a 2009 Golf World article stated. “From this start he would serve many administrative duties for the Asian Golf Circuit, culminating with being Executive Director from 1992-1998.”
For 16 years Benda’s resume in Asia included the following:
1974 – Assistant to the Asia Golf Circuit Coordinating Director.
1975 – Elected President of the Asia Golf Circuit Tournament Players Division and gained a seat on the Executive Committee of the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, the governing body of the Asia Golf Circuit.
1988 – Appointed the Asia Golf Circuit Coordinating Director.
1992 – Appointed the Executive Director, a position he held until retirement in 1998.
“As a young golfer with aspirations of playing on the PGA Tour, my travels took me to Southeast Asia in 1988 for participation on the Asian Golf Circuit,” 2004 Open Championship winner Todd Hamilton said. “During my five years of participating on The Asian Golf Circuit, John was its Coordinating Director. If you needed visa help – you talked to John, a good restaurant – you talked to John and any help with your putting – you definitely talked to John. He was our calming influence when things didn’t work out as quickly as we all would’ve liked. For all of this, I owe John Benda a small debt of gratitude. His work off the course allowed me to focus on the course.”
Jerry Smith, a 2017 Iowa Golf Hall of Fame inductee and PGA Champions Tour Member, commented that he honestly does not know anyone coming out of the State of Iowa who has had a bigger influence on the game of golf worldwide than Benda.
“The early years of the Asian Golf Tour was very unique and touched hundreds of players each season,” Smith said. “It was the process going through the Asian Tour that players then would move onto the Japan Tour, the Australian Tour, the South African Tour, the South American Tour and the PGA Tour. I would imagine that people from the State of Iowa do not fully understand the impact John Benda has had worldwide with professional golfers. John Benda is a by-product of the rich Iowa golf heritage that went out and onto a bigger stage to impact the game of golf as we know it today.”
“A huge part of my life is having that involvement with players that have gone on to great things, even though it was a small part,” Benda humbly said.
- 1973 – Iowa Open Champion
- 1974 – Served as Assistant to the Asia Golf Circuit Coordinating Director.
- 1975 – Elected President of the Asia Golf Circuit Tournament Players Division and gained a seat on the Executive Committee of the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, the governing body of the Asia Golf Circuit.
- 1979 & 1980 – Qualified for The Open Championship
- 1985 – Waterloo Open Champion
- 1988 – Appointed the Asia Golf Circuit Coordinating Director.
- 1992 – Appointed the Asia Golf Circuit Executive Director, a position he held until retirement in 1998.