Des Moines | Inducted 1995 | Category: Professional/ Amateur Golfer

J.D. Turner had an incredible impact on the game of golf in Iowa. Not only as an active and successful player in the state, but the five-time Iowa Open champion distinguished himself as an outstanding teacher and promoter of the game.

He learned the game at a nine-hole course in Perry and became a good player, but the sport wasn’t his original career of choice. He started out as a boys’ high school basketball coach and teacher, then tried the insurance business. But one round of golf brought about another change.

Turner was playing the Elks Course in Iowa City, where he lived at the time. He played with Dean Jones, an Iowa City businessman. Turner shot and 11-under-par 59. Jones told J.D. that he’s sponsor him for two years if he wanted to take a crack at professional golf.

Jones built the Quail Creek course that opened in 1969, the same year Turner turned pro. J.D. gave lessons there, and ran a junior golf school. He also tried twice, unsuccessfully, to qualify for the PGA Tour.

He took the job as head pro at Lakeshore Country Club in Council Bluffs in 1972, then came to the Des Moines Golf and Country Club in 1980. While J.D. was changing professions several times, one thing remained consistent – winning golf tournaments. His breakthrough season came in 1969, when he competed as an amateur and then a pro.

J.D. won the Iowa Golf Association’s 1969 Player of Year award with a 72.07 stroke average. He won the Northwest Amateur in record-setting style, shooting a tournament-record 14-under-par 274. He won by a robust 11 shots. Then he turned professional and won the Iowa Open at the Fort Dodge Country Club. Future PGA Tour winners Steve Spray and Jack Rule finished second and fourth, respectively.

That was the first of three consecutive Iowa Open crowns for Turner. He won in 1970 at the Mason City Country Club, making up a five-shot deficit with a closing 65. His 1971 title, at Echo Valley, was by three shots over Wakonda pro Jack Webb.

Two more Iowa Opens were to come, in 1979 at the Fort Dodge Country Club and 1983 at the Carroll Country Club. Turner said his Iowa Open secret could be found on the greens.

“I made a lot of putts,” he said. “I guess I never analyzed it. I’d get fired up for it. I seemed to play well that time of the year.”

When Hyperion Field Club started the Sani Scholarship fund in 1958, Turner was the first recipient. He would go on to win two Sani titles, in 1974 and 1984. He was also the Tournament of Champions winner in 1965, giving him nine Iowa major titles overall.

Turner won the Iowa PGA Section title in 1986, and claimed the PGA Section Senior title five times (1990, 1992-1994, 2000). He played in the U.S. Senior Open in 1992 and 1994 and the Senior PGA Championship in 1994.

Turner was also excelling as a teacher. He was the Iowa PGA Section Teacher of the Year four times. He resigned from Des Moines Golf and Country Club in 1994 to pursue other interests. He formed the Turner Golf Group, and ran highly successful golf schools for the next 10 years. He had a television show, “The Golf School,” that ran on cable networks across the state. Golf Magazine also named him a Top 50 instructor nationally.

Career Highlights

Playing Career Highlights:

  • Fort Dodge Amateur Champion – 1965
  • Northwest Amateur Champion – 1969
  • 5 Iowa Open Titles – 1969-71, 1979, 1983.
  • 2 Herman Sani Victories – 1974, 1984
  • Iowa Section PGA Champion – 1986
  • Iowa Senior Open Champion – 1992
  • 5-Time Iowa Section PGA Senior Champion – 1990, 1992-1994, 2001
  • Played in 2 U.S. Senior Opens – 1992 & 94
  • Played in U. S. Senior PGA Championship – 1994
  • 11 Club Pro Championship Appearances

Teaching Career Highlights:

  • 4-Time Iowa Section PGA Teacher of the Year 1986-‘89
  • Master PGA Professional
  • Listed as Golf Magazine Top 100 Instructor – 1991-‘08
  • Produced and Hosted J.D. Turner’s Golf University TV show since 1983
  • Received IGA Outstanding Service Award – 1984
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