Des Moines | Inducted 2010 | Category: Amateur Golfer

The McKees were the First Family of Des Moines golf for quite some time.Bert McKee was the Des Moines City Champion in 1908. His sons, Bob and Craig, also won the title. And their sister, Lucille, was also involved in women’s golf in Des Moines.

Bob went to become a six-time city champion during his career. He had great success outside Greater Des Moines as well. McKee would win the Iowa Amateur four times in a 12-year window. He is one of two players to win the state title over three decades. Mike McCoy is the other.

McKee was just 15 years old when he reached the championship match of the Iowa Amateur in 1917. Art Bartlett of Ottumwa beat him in the final, 9 and 7, to claim one of his unprecedented seven Iowa Amateur championships. Twenty-four years later, McKee was medalist in qualifying at the 1941 Iowa Amateur at Hyperion.

McKee’s first Iowa Amateur title came in 1919 at the Cedar Rapids Country Club, where he defeated G.D. French, 6 and 5. McKee turned the tables on Bartlett in 1925 at the Sioux City Country Club. Tight and tense and knotted after 36 holes, McKee won on the 38th hole. He won No. 3 in 1926 over John Vavra, 5 and 4, at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines. McKee’s final victory came in 1931 at the Mason City Country Club. There, he beat Vavra again, 6 and 5. McKee won 45 of his 55 matches in 14 Iowa Amateur appearances. In addition to his four victories, he reached the semifinals five times.

McKee was third in qualifying at the U.S. Amateur in 1920 in Long Island, N.Y., but lost his first match. Earlier that summer he won the Trans-Mississippi title at the Rock Island Arsenal.

McKee was also a standout college golfer at Drake University. In 1920, when the Western Conference (now Big Ten) held its first championship, the Bulldogs won the title and Sioux City’s Rudy Knepper, playing for the University of Chicago before transferring to Princeton, was the medalist. McKee won the individual title in 1921, when Drake repeated as team champion. Drake remains the only team from Iowa to win two Big Ten titles. The University of Iowa won its first and only title in 1992. McKee was the last Iowan to be a Big Ten individual champion until Iowa’s John Jacobs of Cedar Rapids did it in 1946.

McKee’s Iowa career ended when he moved to Omaha, Neb., to become treasurer for the Central National Insurance Group. McKee passed away on June 27, 1961. He was 59 years old.

Career Highlights

  • Trans-Mississippi Champion: 1920
  • Western Inter-Collegiate Individual Champion: 1921
  • Iowa Amateur Champion: 1919, 1925, 1926, and 1931
  • Six-time Des Moines City Champion
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