Eldora | Inducted 2018 | Category: Amateur golfer

Known far and wide as the “Minnow King,” Ivan Miller was credited with well over 100 golf tournament titles across the state of Iowa during the 1970s and 1980s.

Miller spent every weekend in the summer traveling to as many as three one-day events. Many of those tournaments were contested on nine-hole courses, and over 27 holes. His dominance at these events earned him the ‘Minnow King’ moniker, given to him by former Iowa Amateur champ and Iowa Golf Hall of Famer Jim Carney.

Miller also teamed up with George Turner of Des Moines to win a Marshalltown Best-Ball title at Elmwood Country Club. They beat Tom Chapman Jr. and Tom Chapman Sr. in the final. It was a victory that gave Miller the confidence that the “minnows’ didn’t provide. This was a bigger fish.

“It was a great victory,” Miller recalled.

Miller was a constant contender in the state’s major championships, too, but couldn’t quite get over the hump. With newfound confidence in his game, thanks to that success in Marshalltown, that all changed in 1980. After finishing second in the Iowa Masters in 1978 and third in 1979, Miller left Veenker a winner in 1980. He finished six shots ahead of the field.

“It’s the 115th victory of my career but it’s been kind of empty because I’d never won a big one,” Miller said of his breakthrough triumph over the Iowa State University course. “It’s been kind of bugging me. I’m glad it’s the Masters, because I think this is the toughest course in the state. The fairways are so tight and the greens are so little.”

Miller kept it rolling with a victory later that summer in the Northwest Amateur, posting a 283 score for 72 holes and finishing a shot in front of Jim Curell of Boone. Ivan was named the Iowa Golf Association Player of the Year in 1980. He also won that award in 1978. He added another victory in 1982 at the Fort Dodge Amateur.

Ivan finished eighth or better in the player of the year point standings nine times between 1973 and 1984. Miller had 22 Top 10 finishes in the Iowa Masters, Northwest Amateur and Fort Dodge Amateur combined. He also had eight Top 10 finishes at the Iowa Amateur and three in the Sani Invitational.

A high school art teacher and golf coach at Grundy Center and then Eldora for four decades, Miller was inducted to the Iowa Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2018.

Career Highlights

  • 1978 , 1980 IGA Player of the Year
  • 1980 Iowa Masters Champion
  • 1980 Northwest Amateur Champion
  • 1982 Fort Dodge Amateur Champion
  • Routinely credited with wins at well over 100 one-day tournaments held at 9-hole courses throughout Iowa in the 19702 and 1980s
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