Spirit Lake | Inducted 2015 | Category: Golf Professional

In a career that is now in its fourth decade, Curt Schnell has distinguished himself as both a player and a teacher of the game. He has worked the majority of his career in Iowa with a five-year stint in Nebraska from 1997 to 2002.

A native of Milford in Northwest Iowa, Curt’s career as a club professional began in 1981 at Spencer Golf and Country Club. He served as an assistant professional and teaching professional until 1997 with stints at Crow Valley Golf Club in Bettendorf, Des Moines Golf and Country Club and Glynns Creek near Davenport. During this period he was twice named Iowa Section PGA Teacher of the Year, in 1991 and 1996. His competitive game also excelled during this time as he earned Iowa Section Player of the Year honors in 1991 and 1992.

One career highlight came in 1994, when Curt shot a 59 at the Davenport Country Club that included three eagles, seven birdies and one bogey. He made a 30-foot birdie putt on the18th green to break 60.

“It was a right-to-left putt, and it broke about a foot,” Schnell recalled. “I remember it like it was yesterday. How it went in, I have no idea. I couldn’t take the putter back.”

A three-time Iowa Open champion who played in the 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek and the 2009 U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick, Schnell had a knack for producing head-shaking scores. He shot 63 at the Burlington Golf Club in 2007. He also shot a 6-under-par 29 on the front nine at Brooks Golf Club in Okoboji and finished with a 63 while winning his first Iowa PGA Section title in 1996.

“I was never afraid to go low,” Schnell said. “I’m an emotional person. I played on emotions. When I got it going, I was more relaxed. I guess you could call it in the zone. On the other end, when things weren’t going well I’d get all anxious and nervous and not perform as well.”

His first Iowa Open crown, in 1978, came when he was an amateur. His 1982 and 1991 titles were when he was a professional. His 1982 title at the Carroll Country Club was hardly ordinary. After playing the second round he drove to Okoboji and got married to his wife, Bennie. Then he drove back to Carroll that night and won the title in a playoff over Dave Rummells the next day.

In 1997 Schnell was named Head Golf Professional at Oak Hills Country Club in Omaha, Neb. In a five year span he was named Nebraska Section Teacher of the Year twice (1998 and 2000) and took home Nebraska Player of the Year honors in 2000 and 2001.

Curt returned to Iowa in 2002 to become the Director of Golf at Crow Valley. He earned his third Iowa Section Player of the Year award in 2004 , which was highlighted by his victory in the 12- state Northern Region Club Professional Championship.

In 2005 Schnell became co-owner, with his brother Steve, of the Okoboji View Golf Course near Spirit Lake. Curt left Crow Valley in 2008 to become fulltime Golf Professional and Manager of Okoboji View . Steve is the Golf Course Superintendent. Curt kept his game in pretty good shape after turning 50, winning Iowa Section Senior Player of the Year in 2009 and 2012.

Joe Kehoe, a Crow Valley member and former president of the IGA Foundation, was one of Curt’s students.

“He taught the game in a way that was understandable and motivating and was equally effective with skilled and beginning golfers,” Kehoe wrote in a letter nominating Schnell for the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame. “Curt has had an impact on golf in Iowa in almost every way you can – player (amateur and professional), teacher, mentor and club professional.”

Career Highlights

  • Iowa Junior Amateur Champion – 1976
  • 3-time Iowa Open Champion – 1978 (amateur), 1982, 1993
  • 3-time Iowa Section PGA Player of the Year – 1991, 92, 2004
  • 2-time Nebraska Section PGA Player of the Year – 2000-01
  • 2-time Iowa Section PGA Senior Player of the Year – 2009, 2012
  • Northern Region Club Professional Champion (12 states), 2004
  • Qualified for 14 National Club Professional Championships
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