Des Moines | Inducted 2007 | Category: Amateur Golfer/ Benefactor

George Turner’s contributions to golf in Iowa came both on and off the course.

From his victories in two designated major championships — the 1965 Northwest Amateur and the 1969 Fort Dodge Amateur — to countless other amateur events, Turner’s name was well-known in Iowa.

Both of George’s major titles came with some drama. Needing a par on the final hole to finish a shot ahead of Dr. Charles Updegraff of Boone, Turner hooked a 5-iron second shot. Facing a 60-foot chip, he hit it to 2 feet, made the putt and finished the 72-hole championship at 1-over-par 289. But he had to wait a while longer to accept the trophy. Ralph Compiano of Des Moines could tie Turner with a birdie on the last hole. Compiano’s putt to tie, from 40 feet, slid 6 inches past the cup.

Turner’s other major came in overtime. He beat Des Moines golfers Floren DiPaglia and Bill Heldmar in a sudden-death playoff at the 1969 Fort Dodge Amateur after they had tied at 218 for 54 holes.

George also won the IGA’s State Senior title (70 years and old) in 2002. Away from the state, he played in three U.S. Senior Opens (1981, 1984, 1993) and three U.S. Senior Amateurs (1988, 1990, 1991).

Off the course, George was an Iowa Golf Association volunteer for decades, helping run numerous events. George and John Nervig took over operations of the Iowa Masters from the late Harry Burrell and continued that tournament’s status as one of the best events on the summer calendar. George had a presence at every Iowa Golf Association he was at, as a player or volunteer. He demanded respect, and he got it. He was a gentleman of the game, and expected others to do the same.

George loved the old scoreboards that used to show a player’s hole-by-hole score on each round. It was traditionally a place where players would gather to discuss each other’s rounds.

The Iowa Golf Association named its distinguished service award after Turner in 2003.

Mr. Turner was 89 when he passed away on July 25, 2019.


Career Highlights

  • 1965 Northwest Amateur Champion
  • 1969 Fort Dodge Amateur Champion
  • 2002 IGA Senior Amateur Champion (70 years & over)
  • Played in 1981, 1984, and 1993 U.S. Senior Opens
  • Played in 1988, 1990, 1991 U.S. Senior Amateur
  • Ran the Iowa Masters with John Nervig for more than two decades
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