web.com Tour Q School – First Stage – Nebraska, USA

The transition from the amateur ranks to the professional ranks has begun.  Nick played in the first stage of qualifying for the web.com tour between the 3rd and 6th October.  He has gone back to school – Q school that is : )

Nick’s goal is to earn his playing card for the web.com tour which is the developmental tour for the PGA Tour – see below for some more information in relation to the web.com tour.  In simple terms to qualify for the web.com tour there are pre qualifying tournaments, first stage, second stage and then finals.    There were 12 first stage qualifying tournaments held around the USA in October, each with approximately 78 players (total 936 players).  The top 25 from each tournament go through to second stage qualifying so that is 300 players although there may be some other players from the current web.com tour and even the PGA Tour that get exemptions to play in this stage too – these are players that have lost their playing cards so have to re qualify.  There will be 5 second qualifying tournaments played around the USA in November with the top 25 from each going through to the final stage.  These 125 players then play off in December in Arizona in the finals.  If you make it into the top 25 in the finals then you will earn your web.com tour playing card which allows you to play on the web.com tour in the following year.  If you finish between 26 and 40 you are granted partial playing rights.  There is also prize money for the players finishing in the top 40.

Nick made it through first stage in style winning the 72 hole tournament by 1 shot.  He shot 16 under par with rounds of 72, 65, 66 and 65.

The tournament was played at Arbor Links which is located in the nexus between Lincoln, Omaha and Kansas City in the state of Nebraska. 

Article from Stuff.co.nz – Pro career closer for Voke

Article from NZ Golf website – Voke wins web.com First Stage Qualifying Tournament

In Nicks own words…

WHAT A WEEK – it’s always nice to see your name at the top of the leaderboard.  Regardless of whether it’s Saturday’s scramble, qualifying school or a major. Winning is winning and it must be learned at every level to succeed.

First and foremost, a huge shout out goes to my fellow Manukau Golf Club, NZ (or Windross Farm as it is now known) member, Devin Mason.  Devin is now residing in Canada and he came down to Nebraska and was on my bag for the week.  He was a fantastic guy to have on the bag.  I have known Devin for over ten years now and he made the whole week as stress-free as possible.  I can’t thank him enough for his efforts and I’m excited to have him on my bag again in the second round in Texas.

Arbor Links wasn’t necessarily the most challenging golf course but the weather that we had made it very difficult. There was wind, rain and everything in between. It was a constant battle of “is this rain hard enough to warrant a jacket or will it pass in time”? Having Devin there and staying on site made the conditions a whole lot easier to tackle!

In terms of my golf, I didn’t go into the qualifier feeling all that great with my game, I played pretty sloppy in the first round in all honesty, but I knew that I had put in some really solid work and I could feel myself progressively trusting my swing a bit more and that I was starting to swing more freely.  I replied to a text from the NZ golf coach after the first round and I implied that I was feeling good with my game even though I shot 1 over par. I knew that I was close to putting it all together and its nice to look back now and see what actually happened!

Having familiar faces around and a nice place to stay for the week added to my comfort. In a high pressure situation, I felt at ease – I was staying incredibly patient through the testing conditions and with my sloppy inital game, I was taking adversity better in my stride a lot better and laughing things off like a Sunday round. There is a golden lesson in all of this – I have to spend money to make money.  By this I mean that the extra $20 a night I paid to have a decent place to stay, a good breakfast and short commute to the course was worth every dollar. I did everything right off the golf course over the week and I felt great as a result. 

One of the more interesting observations for the week was to do with my putting – and it was one of the best putting performances I’ve ever had. My stats speak for themselves but I didn’t feel like I was trying to ‘force’ or ‘will’ the ball into the hole at all.  Quite frankly I putted better when I thought I had almost holed too many and that I was bound to miss!  Seems quite weird  but I putted better when I didnt really mind if the ball went in or not.  I just wanted to put a good stroke on it and do a good job reading it.  I was 100% inside 5 feet, 62% between 5 and 9 feet AND AN AMAZING 64% between 9 and 15 feet. All the extra work I have been doing from the 5 to 15 feet range came to fruition this week.

There was another cool moment where I was 15 under with 2 holes to play (I was also playing alongside the co-leader at the time).  I knew I was close to winning the thing and that the tournament was probably one of ours to win. For some reason, I didn’t feel nervous or scared (maybe I knew that no matter what happened I was going to qualify as the top 25 get through) and so it gave me a real killer instinct and I just wanted to unleash and put it on the line to see what happened.  The 17th tee is quite a hard shot with trouble around and I smashed a 3 wood into the fairway.  I was really proud of how assertive I swung at the ball – especially when the trouble is right with wind off the left.  I ended up playing the last 2 holes at 1 under to win by 1.  It was an awesome feeling. This is how I want to act and play when there are real consequences on the line.

It was a great week on the course but I am going to take away a bigger lesson that I learned off the course. I invested heavily into my comfort for the week and I felt like I was there to do a job and I did it. The key is to continue investing into myself even whenI’m not feeling as good.

I am back at work here in Iowa as there is always plenty to work on.  I’ve got a great opportunity over the next couple of months to show what I have when it matters most.  I am beyond excited to get back home and see everyone again! 

Next stop, Royal Wellington and the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.  A shot at the Masters and The British Open. It doesn’t get much better than this. What a time to be alive!


ArborLinks takes advantage of the natural features of the site. Native grasses have been used to define and separate the golf holes, which is set on the existing terrain with as little land form disturbance as possible. Bunkers and other hazards have been sculpted to create an old world look and feel. Greens and fairways are expansive, providing unequaled challenges and stimulated creative strategy, while remaining simple and natural.  

The course was built on wooded hills and old cornfields northwest of Arbor Day Farm. Each of ArborLink’s 18 holes tells a conservation story, ranging from “Black Cherry Row” for the first hole, demonstrating field windbreaks and their value, to hole 18, “Cottonwood Creek,” which illustrates the use of bioengineering in restoring and protecting the banks of South Table Creek.  See below re the sustainable approach taken to build this course.
The course is an Arnold Palmer signature design and was opened in 2002.  It was once a public course but is now a private members club although you can play the course if you stay at the Arbor Day Lodge.  


The Web.com Tour is the developmental tour for the U.S.-based PGA Tour, and features professional golfers who have either not yet reached the PGA Tour, or who have done so but then failed to win enough FedEx Cup points to stay at that level. Those who are on the top 25 of the money list at year’s end are given PGA Tour memberships for the next season. Since the 2013 season, the Web.com Tour has been the primary pathway for those seeking to earn their PGA Tour card. Q-School, which had previously been the primary route for qualification to the PGA Tour, has been converted as an entryway to the Web.com tour.


Announced in early 1989 by PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman, the “satellite tour” was formalized by the PGA Tour in 1990, originally named the Ben Hogan Tour, sponsored by the Ben Hogan Golf Company.  The first season of 1990 had 30 events, and the typical event purse was $100,000.  Late in the third year, Nike acquired the title sponsorship and it became the Nike Tour for seven seasons (1993–99); with another sponsorship change it then became the Buy.com Tour for three seasons (2000–02).

Naming rights for the tour were purchased by Nationwide Insurance and it was renamed the Nationwide Tour for 2003. In 2007 there were 32 events, one each in Australia, New Zealand, and Panama, with the remainder in the United States. The events in Australia and New Zealand were co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia. Canada and Mexico have hosted events since 2008, and Colombia hosted an event since 2010. Purses in 2010 ranged from $500,000 to $1 million, about one-tenth of the level on the PGA Tour.
After  9 1⁄2 seasons as the Nationwide Tour, Web.com was announced as the new title sponsor in late June 2012. Effective immediately, with a 10-year sponsorship deal, the tour’s name was changed in mid-season.

Rules and Results

All Web.com Tour tournaments operate similarly to typical PGA Tour tournaments in that they are all 72-hole stroke play events with a cut made after 36 holes. The cut on the Web.com Tour is for the top 65 players and ties, unlike 70 for the PGA Tour. The fields are usually 144 or 156 players, depending on time of year (and available daylight hours). For the aforementioned international events, the joint tour will split players spots with the Web.com Tour for proper sanctioning. As with the PGA Tour, the winner of the tournament will get a prize of 18% of the total purse.

Since this tour is a developmental tour, players are usually vying to play well enough to gain status on the PGA Tour.

In 2007 Paul Claxton became the first man to reach US$1 million in Web.com Tour career earnings.

The Web.com Tour offers Official World Golf Ranking points. The winner earns a minimum of 14 OWGR points (provided at least 54 holes are played) and 20 for the Web.com Tour Championship. Starting in 2013, the first three events of the Web.com Tour Finals award 16 OWGR points to the winner. Tournaments shortened to 36 holes are given reduced values of ten points for regular season events and the win is considered unofficial.

Changes for 2013 season and beyond

On March 20, 2012, the PGA Tour announced radical changes to the main tour’s season and qualifying process effective in 2013. Major changes to what was then known as the Nationwide Tour were also announced at that time.

The first major change was that beginning in fall 2013, the PGA Tour season started in October of the previous calendar year.  This change had several consequences for the Web.com Tour, either directly or indirectly.

Starting with the 2013 season, the Web.com Tour has a structure similar to that of the main PGA Tour, with a regular season followed by a season-ending series of tournaments. In the case of the Web.com Tour, the ending series consists of four tournaments, to be held during the main tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs, called the Web.com Tour Finals. At least 150 players will be eligible to compete in the Finals—the top 75 on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, plus the players finishing between 126 and 200 on the FedEx Cup points list.  Non-members of the PGA Tour are also eligible if they would have earned enough FedEx Cup points to finish 126 to 200. In addition, PGA Tour players who have been granted medical extensions for the following season are eligible. Because some of the PGA Tour players will be exempt by other means, such as tournament wins in the previous two years, the Finals fields will not consist of all eligible players.  A total of 50 PGA Tour cards for the following season will be awarded at the end of the Finals—25 to the top regular-season money winners on the Web.com Tour, with the remaining 25 determined by total money earned during the Finals.

Those who finish in the Top 75 on the regular season money list but fail to earn PGA Tour cards retain full Web.com Tour status, along with those 26–50 on the Finals money list and those who finished 126–150 on the PGA Tour FedEx Cup standings. Conditional status is given to those who finish in the top 100 on the money list or 151–200 in the FedEx Cup.

Also, starting in 2013, the PGA Tour’s qualifying school grants playing rights only for the Web.com Tour.  The medalist is fully exempt on the Web.com Tour for the entire season. Those finishing in the top ten plus ties are exempt through the third reshuffle, or thirteen events. Players finishing 11th-45th are exempt through the second reshuffle after nine events and all remaining golfers have conditional status. One can also earn direct access to the Web.com Tour through a top-five finish on the Order of Merit on PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour Latinoamérica, or PGA Tour China. The money leader from each of those tours is fully exempt and those 2nd-5th are conditionally exempt.

Finally, the Web.com Tour now provides up to two entrants in the following year’s Players Championship. One invitation is extended to the player who tops the money list for the entire season, including the Finals. The golfer who earns the most during the Finals also receives an invitation; if the same player leads both money lists, only one invitation is given.

Partnering for Sustainable Design and Education – Arbor Links

In the late 1990’s a concept was conceived for a golf course in the state of Nebraska that would serve as an educational model for eco-sustainability and yet be affordable to build and maintain. To further that goal, a partnership was formed between the golf course builder, the golf course architect and the National Arbor Day Foundation. This team was committed to proactive environmental goals for the development of a golf course that would include:

– Conservation of wildlife habitat

– Protection and improvement of water quality of existing creeks and watersheds

– Restoration of degraded prairie

– Utilizing the course as a living classroom for education both in and out of the golf industry.

300 acres of land adjacent to the Lied Conference Center at Arbor Day Farms was made available for the new golf course. The preliminary review of the project site revealed that the existing prairie land and natural creeks that remained had been degraded by earlier farming practices. The banks of North Table Creek that runs through the property had badly eroded and water quality had also been compromised due to the heavy agronomic use of the land in previous years. Native grassland had become overgrown with a monoculture of species and wildlife habitat had become diminished.

A routing for the golf course was designed to best utilize the natural features of the site with minimal impact and movement of earth. This not only reduced the construction budget but allowed for little disturbance of the land. With a routing plan in place, the design of the course by the Palmer team decided on a natural concept that incorporated large areas for the establishment of native grasses and groves of trees. Bunkers with ragged edges were included to provide a natural and compatible appearance for the windswept prairie look of Nebraska. Water features, such as ponds with littoral shelves and created wetland hollows were added or adjusted to blend seamlessly into this natural environment.

The restoration of the indigenous prairie grasses in large out of play areas was important for enhancing wildlife habitat and also meant that little additional irrigation was required once they had been established. By incorporating these areas into the design, corridors of vegetation were created to connect habitat areas of different animal and bird species. In selected locations around the course, food plots are being incorporated to further encourage wildlife. Trees provide an important habitat for birds and with the knowledge that field breaks of trees were found around farmsteads of the Great Plains dating back to the 1930s, a tree planting program was implemented with Arbor Day Farm around the course. Varieties of native species from seedlings to large specimen trees were planted to reestablish this natural wind screen and to provide habitat. Restoring the landscape of prairie, wetland and forest created abundant habitat for wildlife and provided for more biological diversification. Utilizing Best Management Practices and an Integrated Pest Management plan that is designed to protect the environment also reflect cost efficient methods with proven results. Grass types were selected to reduce irrigation requirements and heavy maintenance practices. Estimates are that 140,000 gallons of water a day will be conserved during peak watering seasons. These grass types will be studied for their effectiveness from year to year.

The South Table Creek that runs through the site had been altered and straightened to gain more land for farming at one time. With assistance and support from the U.S. EPA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the creek has been restored to its original direction and methods were taken throughout construction to stabilize the banks and prevent erosion. To protect the water quality of the creek during construction, silt fence, detention ditches and soil erosion matting was used. At Arbor Links over forty acres of erosion matting was used to assist seed germination and prevent runoff in potential wash areas This replaced the need for sod on tee slopes, lake edges and green banks, which helped to maintain the course as a good steward of the land while keeping construction affordable. In addition, a buffer system of vegetation was implemented along the creek to filter runoff from the golf course. Some of this vegetation can be harvested periodically as biomass for energy production for the conference center.

To complement the goal of constructing a golf course that would protect and enhance the site’s natural elements, the design team and Arbor Day Farm elected to provide opportunities for education and research sharing. A variety of construction methods and techniques were employed by the golf course builder for future study. Four methods of greens mix and construction were utilized. The resulting turf characteristics, rate of growth and playing conditions of these greens are being studied and so far, no measurable differences have been detected in playability and quality of turf. The performance continues to be evaluated by the agronomic staff. A golf course pocket guide was developed to educate golfers on the conservation methods that were employed during the design and construction, as well as to provide information regarding sustainable maintenance techniques. One of the partners in this guide was the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Many companies within the golf industry contributed time, talent and materials toward the construction of this course in the knowledge that golf courses can be good stewards of the land with the proper information and guidance.

Arbor Links Golf Course was designed, built and is maintained to meet the initial environmental vision of the partnership. The course has hosted a summit with leaders from the golf industry and the environmental community. It continues to be recognized as a national environmental model and is an educational resource for the community, as well as golfers.

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Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup – Japan

Nick got an exemption from New Zealand Golf to play in the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup which is a Japanese Professional Tour event.  This year’s tournament was played between the 21st and 24th September at the Caledonian Golf Club in Chiba which is about two hours from Tokyo.  This tournament has been played annually since 1973 and was sanctioned as an Asian Tour Event in 2014.  The prize pool was JPY150,000,000 or about USD1.37 million.  The winner would earn UDS269,000.  As an amateur, Nick would not be partaking in the spoils but gaining valuable experience and exposure.

Nick felt very privileged to be given this opportunity to tee it up against the professionals and experience an event in a unique country like Japan.  He had a couple of practice rounds prior to the event and was in awe of some the professionals that were playing in the event – guys he had been following since he was a youngster.  Unfortunately he just came up short missing the cut line by one shot shooting rounds of 72 and 73.  The cut line was even par and Nick finished the thirty six holes at one over.

The winner of the tournament was Daisuke Kataoka from Japan who shot 12 under over the four rounds.  There was only one amateur that made the cut with Nick and another amateur from Japan being the next best equal amateur contenders.  NZ’s own professional, Michael Hendry also played in the event finishing in a tie for 19th which earnt him a tidy USD11,456.

In Nick’s own words…….

The Diamond Cup is an event on the Japanese Tour which boasts a purse of about US $1.4 million (the winner gets a cheque for USD269,000) – not a bad pay cheque for a weeks work.  Past European Tour superstars were present – Jeev Milkah Singh, Leang WenChong and Jbe Kruger, among many more. I was fortunate enough to get an exemption into the field from New Zealand Golf, they thought I was a prime candidate for the experience with my upcoming schedule as I transition into the professional ranks.

The whole experience in Japan was amazing. The people were friendly and welcoming, the location (Narita which is about two hours from Tokyo) was clean and green and the event was organised superbly. The golf course was your typical Asian resort layout – short, tight and tough off the tee. The rough was as high as my ankles and the greens shaped around the natural contours. 

I played okay for the event. It was one of those events were I would have stretches of good golf and then unfortunately leak a few too many shots in other stretches. I have been playing with the mindset to ‘find my best for the day’; whether I shoot 4 over or 4 under isn’t as important as me shooting the best score I can possibly shoot given my game for the day.  My putting was rock solid but unfortnately I didnt have the grestest couple of days with my ball striking.  Having said that, I fought as hard as I could and gave it my very best effort.  For that, I can walk around with my head held high.

I came down the last hole at 2 over par thinking that a birdie could sneak me inside the cut-line. After hitting my approach shot into the par 5 to about 53 feet and then lagging my 3rd shot down to the hole, I was left with a ticklish little 4 foot slider for my birdie.  I was incredibly pleased to put a real good stroke on it and hole the putt thinking that the birdie could sneak me in.  Unfortunately, my score of one over was one shot short of making the cut.  Even though I had missed the cut, I knew my game was good enough to contend and that I am ready to be out there for real. 

I spent the next two days touring around Tokyo and watching the leading groups compete for the trophy.  It was a slightly bitter debut on the Japenese Tour but I know that I will be better off for the experience and that I will be back! 

Next stop for me is Q-school in Nebraksa for the web.com tour.  I am excited to get back to work and give myself the best opportunity I can to play well. Exciting times ahead!!

Caledonian Golf Club

This J. Michael Poellot design is set amongst rolling hills and natural woodland in the Sanbu district of the Chiba prefecture.  Plenty of stylish “rivers of sand” bunkers adorn the layout, with five ponds also threatening on seven or eight holes.  The far end of the course away from the clubhouse is criss-crossed by towering pylons and their associated power lines.  It is a private golf club although they allow a limited number of non members to play.

J. Michael Poellot is a renowned American golf course designer, whose designs can be found in the USA, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, the Carribean, France and across Asia.

The course was established in 1990 and is 7,021 yards long off the back tees and has a par of 72.

Playing the Tourist photos……….

Toilet instructions 😂😂

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Iowa Open – Iowa, USA

Nick played in the Iowa Open which is a professional tournament between the 25th and 27th August 2017.  The 54 hole tournament was played at Blue Top Ridge in Riverside, Iowa.

Nick finished as the top amateur tied for sixth on 9 under.  The winner was Nyasha Mauchaza from Florida who had a total of 14 under for the three rounds.  The next amateur finished on 7 under in tenth place.

In Nick’s own words…

My preparation leading into both the Herman Sani and Iowa Open was good.  I knew there was a good chance that they wouldn’t provide us with yardage books so I took the initiative to go and out and make my own.  That worked really well and I was more comfortable in the practice rounds taking my time to map out the greens.

I was really pleased with six solid rounds in professional events and it showed me I am able to post good scores with proper course management and a better understanding of my tendencies under pressure or when things aren’t going according to plan.

I thought my swing was a tad off in the Iowa Open but I didn’t let that put me into my usual downward spiral where I over analyse everything.  My play was solid and I made minimal mistakes – I was rarely short sided and I took my medicine when required and didn’t bite off more than I could chew off the tee.

Nyasha Mauchaza wins the 84th Iowa Open Golf Tournament

The Des Moines Regsiter, 27 August 2017

Nyasha Mauchaza’s first-round 65 probably felt like a good omen at the 84th Iowa Open in Riverside. But thanks to a so-so 70 on Saturday, the Florida native had to replicate that performance Sunday to take home the title.

Mauchaza nearly did just that, carding a 5-under 67 on the final day at the Blue Top Ridge Golf Course to narrowly win the tournament and the $25,000 prize. His 14-under total for the event was followed by Nathan Yankovich, at 13-under, Chase Hanna, at 12-under, Brad Hopfinger, at 11-under, and John Gullberg, at 10-under, which rounds out the top five. 

Needless to say, there was little room for error for Mauchaza, who used six third-round birdies to seal the win.

Notable Iowa ties in the open include a couple of amateurs: Former Iowa State golfer Nick Voke finished sixth, at 9-under, while Jeff Swegle, who golfs for Stanford but is from West Des Moines, tied for 11th, at 7-under.

Albia’s Darin Fisher tied for 11th as well. Fellow pro Jeffery Schmid of Iowa City took 14th place.

Blue Top Ridge Golf Course

Blue Top Ridge Golf Course is part of the Riverside Casino and Resort in Iowa.  It was designed by golfcourse architect Rees Jones and completed in 2009.

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Herman Sani Tournament – Iowa, USA

Nick played in the 68th Herman Sani Tournament between the 11th and 13th August 2017 at the Echo Valley Country Club.  The Herman Sani is a 54 hole strokeplay tournament open to both professionals and amateurs and there is also a seniors division for over 50’s.  All entrants must be Iowa Golf Association members or have significant ties to Iowa, for example playing or having played college golf in Iowa.

Nick won the tournament with a total of 204 or 9 under.  His Iowa State and NZ team mate, Denzel Ieremia came runner up on 6 under.

Iowa State Golf Association

NORWALK, IA (August 13, 2017) – You would expect a Cyclone to storm back.

New Zealand’s Nick Voke, who just completed his eligibility at Iowa State University this spring, stormed back to win the 68th Herman Sani Tournament at Echo Valley Country Club.

Voke, who posted an impressive 66 (-5) in the final round, shot 204 (-9) over the three-day event to win by three over former teammate Denzel Ieremia.

“I struck the ball pretty well all week,” Voke said. “I did a little bit of work before today’s round trying to get the speed of the greens.”

Voke admitted that he didn’t even play a practice round, let alone have any prior experience at EVCC.

“I walked the course before round one,” Voke said. “I had a good game plan and was able to come away with (the win).”

Voke birdied three of the last four holes to pull away.

“I was able to make a nice putt on #17,” Voke said. “Then I made a seven-footer on #18 to finish.”

In the Senior Division Joe Palmer, who won the Senior Division in 2013, made birdie on the last hole to take home the title by a shot over Curtis Holck and Rob Dickerman.

Palmer finished at 210 (-3) for the event.

Echo Valley Country Club

Echo Valley Country Club is a family owned, family orientated private golf and country club located just 10 minutes from downtown Des Moines.

Echo Valley Country Club was founded by two of Des Moines’ most prominent businessmen of the 1960s, E.C. “Eddie” Coppola and Hy Diamond. They shared a dream of providing a first-class country club with an inclusive atmosphere welcoming to any who wished to join. The dream of Echo Valley stood in stark contrast to the exclusionary policies of some area clubs at the time.

The land on which Echo Valley was built had been used by Coppola to raise quarter horses. Edward L. Packard of LaSalle, IL designed the 18 holes which now comprise the Vale and Creek courses and construction began in 1967. The Clubhouse was designed by James Paxon Architects, with interior designer Kenneth Melton providing the very chic interior design, with included orange shag carpets. Don’t worry–the carpet has since been replaced and much of the Clubhouse was redesigned in an extensive 1994 renovation and subsequent 2007 facelift.

In an August 30, 1970 article about the Club’s opening titled “Something for Everyone,” The Des Moines Register observed, “It appears that nothing has been left out in Des Moines’ newest addition to the country club scene, Echo Valley Country Club.” We believe this remains true today.

Who was Herman Sani?

BY DAVE ELBERT, Columnist, Friday, July 24, 2015 6:00 AM

 Herman Sani, the namesake of an Iowa signature golf tournament, was an early 20th-century businessman who saved Hyperion Field Club from bankruptcy during the Great Depression.

Nearly 80 years later, three Coppola brothers led by Echo Valley Country Club owner Mike Coppola are, if not saving, at least reinvigorating the Herman Sani Tournament’s scholarship fund with a $250,000 contribution.

The Coppolas’ contribution, announced this week by Iowa Golf Association director Bill Dickens, creates a new base of strength for the Herman Sani Scholarship Fund, which has been creating opportunities for college-bound Iowans since 1958.

You don’t have to be a golfer to receive one of the fund’s four annual $2,000-a-year grants for up to four years. But many recipients have been, including local pro J.D. Turner, who received the inaugural award in 1958, and PGA player Steve Spray.

Turner was one Golf Digest’s Top 50 Golf Instructors and for many years was the club pro at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. Spray played on the PGA Tour during the 1960s and ’70s. Both early recipients later won the Herman Sani Tournament — Spray in 1972 and Turner in 1974 and 1984.   

To appreciate the generosity of brothers Mike, Arthur and Ed Coppola, it helps to know the background of Sani and the tournament that was created at Hyperion to honor him 65 years ago.   

Sani became an Iowa golf legend, not because of his athletic skill, but because of the dramatic way in which he saved one of central Iowa’s earliest golf courses and because of his efforts to help young people.

Local golf historian Bill Reed wrote that Sani was born in Italy on July 12, 1884, the son of Eugenio Sani, a schoolteacher who immigrated to Des Moines in 1892. 

Young Sani was a newsboy, shined shoes and sold programs at the ballpark, according to Reed. Later, he studied civil engineering and worked for the city street department, eventually becoming the chief inspector. 

In 1916, Sani went to work for a paving company that laid a brick road to Camp Dodge during the months leading up to U.S. involvement in World War I. Later, he owned the company.

Sani loved to play golf and was an early member of Hyperion Field Club, which opened its golf course in 1910.

In 1926, he helped plant trees along Hyperion’s fairways. According to Reed, Sani’s engineering background “allowed him to build, rebuild and make golf course improvements all over Iowa.”

Sani was also an early officer of the Iowa Golf Association, serving as secretary-treasurer beginning in 1926.

During the Great Depression, Hyperion fell behind on its property tax payments and in 1936 was to be sold for back taxes, Reed wrote. 

“Herman Sani showed up and paid the past due taxes,” the historian wrote. “Then he reportedly tore up the bill on the Polk County Courthouse steps. There was no record of him being reimbursed.”

The tournament that carries his name was created in 1950 and quickly became “one of the cornerstones of Iowa golf,” said IGA’s Dickens. “It’s one of the few with open competition between amateurs and professionals,” he added. 

The Sani Tournament was always played at Hyperion until a scheduling problem caused it to move in 2013 to Echo Valley Country Club, which now rotates with Hyperion as host of the event. 

The new venue exposed the Coppolas to the Sani history, and the scholarship fund captured their interest. The fund had suffered from a lack of interest, and the IGA launched an endowment drive two years ago. 

“The Coppolas’ generosity is a giant step toward fully endowing our scholarships,” Joe Kehoe, president of the IGA Foundation, said in a news release announcing the family’s gift.

Posted in Iowa, United States of America | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Western Amateur Championship – Illinois, USA

The Western Amateur has been a prestigious national tournament since its founding in 1899. Many of the great names in golf have won the Western Amateur. Many more have competed in the championship but were unable to conquer the gruelling test that is the Western Amateur.

156 invited players come from across the globe to play one of the toughest formats in amateur golf. They play 18 holes of individual stroke play on the Tuesday and Wednesday after which the field is cut to the low 44 scores and ties. Those remaining play 36 holes of individual stroke play on Thursday to determine the low 16 finishers. The "Sweet Sixteen" then compete in Match Play on Friday and Saturday to determine the champion.

The Western Amateurs' Sweet Sixteen have tuned out to be quite an elite group in the golf world. Over the years, Sweet Sixteen members have accomplished the following….

  • 22 major championships since 2000
  • 15 PGA Tour Player of the Year awards since 1990
  • 4 FedEx Cup titles
  • 13 events on the 2014-15 PGA Tour Schedule
  • 5 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year awards since 1990
  • 9 participants in the 2015 Presidents Cup
  • 7 of the top 20 on the PGA Tour career money list
  • 11 of the last 20 US Amateur Champions

Nick was invited to play in this tournament which was held between the 31st of July and the 5th August at the Skokie Country Club in Glencoe, Illinois.

Nick and his former Iowa State teammate Ruben Sondjaja made the "Sweet Sixteen" finishing tied for 3rd on 11 under after 72 holes. Nick played Dylan Perry first up and won the match 5 and 4. Unfortunately Ruben got beaten by Derek Bard – if he had progressed to the next round he would have been playing Nick. Nick then played Derek and unfortunately went down 2 and 1. Derek would then lose in his semi final match to the eventful winner Norman Xiong who had also finished at the top of the leaderboard after 72 holes.

In Nicks own words……….

The coolest thing about my week at the Western Amateur was my mindset. I entered the event with minimal swing thoughts and progressively played more and more freely as the week went on. My mindset was more about seeing how good I could play imperfectly rather than my usual attitude of seeing how close to perfect I could play. This was evident in my quarterfinal match against Derek Bard – I snap hooked a 2 iron into a tree and it kicked into the fairway. Instead of being annoyed with my second shot on a par five and trying to figure out what went wrong, I got up to the ball and hit a low nipper wedge to 9 feet and drained the putt for a birdie. I didn't care how I made the birdie, I cared that I made the birdie.

I hit 79% of my fairways. As the week went on my driving did get more and more scrappy but I managed it well and went to my go to shots when things weren't going so well or when I was under pressure. All in all it was a successful week and I have a good action plan for the next few weeks in terms of working on the inconsistent or not as mentally strong and resilient parts of my game.

Playing in the Pro-Am

Skokie Country Club

Skokie Country Club is a private country club in Glencoe, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Founded in 1897, it features a 7091-yard 18-hole course.

In 1843, President John Tyler granted, through purchase, a large tract of land to a man named Marcus Gormley. In 1897 a piece of the property was purchased by a group of Chicago businessmen who had come together to form a golf club.

The land stood atop a ridge and overlooked a broad oak savannah plain and in the distance, a wetland area. This portion, known as the “Skokie”, probably got its name from a Potawatomi Indian word for swamp or marsh. From this came “The Links of Skokie Country Club”.

There have been 4 course layouts here.

The first, designed by a member, had 9 holes. All that remains today is the small pond on No.18 and the routing of No. 8.

In 1904, the members hired Thomas Bendelow to design an 18 hole course. An acclaimed architect in his day, it should be noted that he also designed Medinah No. 3 and Olympia Fields Nos. 1 and 2.

Skokie is known as a “Donald Ross Course”. The legendary designer came to Skokie in 1914. With his signature “fore bunkers” 20 to 30 yards short of the green, lofted shots to mounded greens were promoted.

In 1922 Skokie was chosen to host the U. S. Open. Called the “National Open” at the time, a first-ever admission fee of $1 was charged. With the best golfers of the day including Walter Hagen, John Black and Bobby Jones, it drew 15,000 spectators, the largest crowd in Open history to that point.

A 20-year-old former caddie named Gene Sarazen won the tournament with a birdie 4 on the par 5 18th hole.

At the Skokie Centennial in 1997, Mr. Sarazen stood on the 18th green to address the membership. Standing on the terrace, on the slope down from the clubhouse and extending out to the putting green were most of the club’s 300 members. They were dressed in formal attire to pay homage and listen to the man who had meant so much to Skokie Country Club and who had become a legend in the history of the game. Emotion was palpable.

With the sunset at his back, Mr. Sarazen stood up to the microphone, “My grandfather won the U.S. Open here in 1922.” When the laughter passed, the 95-year old champion continued -“Boy, the trees sure have grown!

In 1938, the Club acquired land adjacent to the lagoons in the southwest “footprint” of the course. That land and real estate transactions in the north section enabled a substantial reworking. The architectural team of William Langford and Theodore Moreau were hired. Fresh from their “masterpiece” at Lawsonia Links in Green Lake, Wisconsin, they redesigned much of the layout with respect paid to the integrity of Mr. Ross’s intentions. With the exception of some modifications by the firm of Rees Jones in 1981, the current course is much as Langford and Moreau left it in the late 1930’s.

In 1999, the membership overwhelmingly approved the engagement of Mr. Ron Prichard to update the course. His extensive experience as a Donald Ross disciple was impressive and work began immediately. Mr. Prichard redesigned the greens and bunkers to the original Ross specifications and oversaw the removal of trees of poor or insignificant value. The result is classic Donald Ross.

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Trans-Mississippi Amateur Championship – Kansas, USA

Nick played in the 114th Trans-Mississippi Championship between the 10th and 13th July. The tournament was held at the Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas. The format was 72 holes of strokeplay – the starting field of 144 players will be reduced to 54 after the second round.

Unfortunately it wasn't Nick's week and he missed the cut with rounds of 74 and 76. The winner was Cameron Champ from California on 9 under.

Cameron Champ played in the US Open in June and along with Scottie Scheffler (another amateur playing in the Trans-Miss) and they were the only two amateurs to make the cut. Scottie Scheffler won the Low Amateur medal and finished in a tie for 27th.

In Nick's own words…..

I hit a lot of quality golf shots but overall I was inefficient and my putter was cold. I just couldn't get the momentum going and sloppy mistakes crept in. However, my attitude remained good throughout and I didn't give up. I continued to plug along with everything I had. It reminded me of something Jay Carter (my NZ coach) once told me – we always see everyone playing well on TV and think that's what professional golf is all about but in reality it is more about the days when you're not firing on all cylinders but you continue fighting with everything you have.

Trans-Miss History

The Trans-Mississippi Amateur or Trans-Miss Amateur has been played annually since 1901. It is played at a different course each year – the courses are all located near or west of the Mississippi River. From 1987 to 2009, the field was limited to mid-amateurs (age 25 or greater). From its inception through to and including the 2009 event it was played in two parts, a 36 hole stroke play competition to determine a 64 player field for the match play competition. Beginning in 2010, it is a 54 hole stroke play tournament with no age restrictions on entry.

Past winners include Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw and Bryson DeChambeau who has turned pro in the last couple of years.

Prairie Dunes Country Club

Tom Watson described Prairie Dunes as "A little bit of Scotland in the land of Oz. Sunflowers instead of heather, oceans of grain instead of the sea. But, like Scotland, be prepared because the wind always blows." When they say Oz they are referring to the Wonderful Wizard of Oz when Dorothy is swept from a farm in Kansas to a magical land of Oz in a tornado.

It is unusual to find a links style course in the centre of the USA where there is no seaside.

Emerson Carey, founder of Carey Salt Company, was an avid golfer and had travelled the world with his family, playing top ranked courses in the early 1900s including Scotland in the 1920s. Carey and his four sons became a staple in the Hutchinson golf community, contributing to the development of several courses in the area. In 1935 the Carey family commissioned architectural genius Perry Maxwell (Southern Hills, Colonial Country Club, redesign of Pine Valley and Augusta National) to design a masterpiece. Thus, the idea of Prairie Dunes was born.

Maxwell's response to the 480 acre canvas for his masterpiece, "there are 118 holes here, all I have to do is eliminate 100".

Thus, construction began on Prairie Dunes. The course was molded from the Kansas land using 18 horses and mules, Fresno scrapers and wheelbarrows. The only mechanised equipment used were Model T and Model A Fords which were used to bring the workers to site. Greens and fairways came to life by teams dragging plows and scoops, while roots of native grass and weeds were removed by hand one wheelbarrow at a time. In true Kansas fashion, a tornado swept across the site, forcing men into a bunker for protection. Despite the elements, Prairie Dunes opened the first 9 holes on the 13th September 1937. Twenty years later in 1957, The Dunes opened the second 9 holes, designed by Perry Maxwell's son.

Prairie Dunes had held the Trans-Miss five times prior to 2017.

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Northeast Amateur – Rhode Island, USA

Nick played in the prestigious Northeast Amateur from the 21st to the 24th June.  He had another strong showing finishing in a tie for 8th at 3 under with rounds of 63, 72, 70 and 68.  The winner, Colin Morikawa finished on 11 under.

The tournament was played on the Wannamoiset Country Club in Rhode Island.

In Nick's own words………..

I drove the ball amazingly well this week – I hit 75% of fairways and didn't have any wasted shots off the tee which is huge. I did a great job managing my emotions and staying in a good frame of mind. This was demonstrated when I went through a stretch of 58 holes with only two birdies. I kept assuring myself that I don't have to play perfect to complete and that my game is good enough – I kept telling myself that I am only one shot away from playing great.

My putting let me down again this week and I battled to commit to my feels. Overall I didn't feel I played that well so was very pleased to come away tied for 8th. There were some tremendous improvements in my driving, however everything else felt a bit sloppy so I look forward to the next two weeks practice and preparation for the next tournament.

Nick was the clubhouse leader after the first round – check out the Day 1 highlights videos and news story here:



New Zealand's Nick Voke (Iowa State '17) Leads After Round 1 (http://www.northeastamateur.com/news)

EAST PROVIDENCE _ Nick Voke is on a hot streak these days, and his strong play continued Wednesday in the first round of the 56th Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club.

Voke, a recent graduate of Iowa State who hails from New Zealand, led an onslaught on par at the old Donald Ross-designed course, posting a 6-under 63. He had seven birdies, three of them deuces on par-3s.

He needed all of them to be in the lead by himself. Collin Morikawa, a first-team All-American at the University of California and member of the United States Palmer Cup team, was second with a 64 that included an eagle when he spun his approach from 92 yards back into the cup on the 391-yard, par-four 11th.

Another All-American, Scottie Scheffler of Texas, followed up his low amateur performance at the U.S. Open last week by tying for third at 4-under 65. Clemson All-American Doc Redman and Vanderbilt star Theo Humphrey also had 65s. Reigning Rhode Island Amateur champion Davis Chatfield, a Wannamoisett member, was the low area player with a 67.

In all, 35 of the 92 starters shot par or better. The majority of the low scores were posted early on when the winds were light and the greens softer than usual because of rain on Tuesday. Voke was among those in the early wave who took advantage. He came in on a roll, having finished third at last week’s Sunnehanna Amateur, one stroke out of a playoff for the title. That followed a first-place finish in the Texas Regional of the NCAA Tournament.

"It was a good day,’’ Voke said. “I got off to a pretty hot start. I holed a putt on the first hole and chipped in on the third, so I was 2-under quick,’’ he said. He birdied 11, 12, 13 and 15 to make it a special round.

I was feeling good and my game is in a good spot,’’ he said.

Voke, who tied for fifth at the Northeast two years ago, is delaying turning pro for two reasons. He wants to play the amateur circuit for a final summer and he also is taking time to do an internship. A kinesiology major, he is interested in a possible career as a chiropractor. He has arranged to do an internship with a chiropractor later this summer.

Morikawa also picked up where he left off last week. He lost the Sunnehanna title in a playoff. The resident of La Canada Flintridge, Cal., has moved to third in the world amateur rankings after earlier being number one.

Another highlight of the opening day was that it also included what is believed to be a first in the Northeast’s 56-year history, and a first in the more than century old Wannamoisett annals, as well.

Ben Wolcott, a junior at the University of Mississippi, made back-to-back eagles on 16 and 17. He had been 4-over through 15, including a pair of double bogeys earlier on the back nine. But he holed out a wedge from 135 yards on the par-4 16th, then reached the green from 282 yards on the par-5 17th. His shot ended four feet from the hole and he made that one, too. So, in the span of two holes he went from 4-over to even.

His feat was unheard of previously because Wannamoisett has only one par-5. The 17th annually gives up some eagles. But few eagles are made elsewhere, so having eagles on back-to-back holes simply is unheard of.

"I know it’s never been done in the Northeast,’’ said Bill Lunnie, the former director of the Northeast and a long time Wannamoisett member. "And I don’t think it’s ever been done at this course.’’

Scheffler was among the others putting himself in good position after the first day. The University of Texas All-American, who turned 20 on Wednesday, was a late arrival. He had travel issues after finishing as low amateur in last week’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills. He did not arrive until midnight Monday at the home of the Conley family, his hosts for the last four years.

"I kind of slept in Tuesday,’’ he said. He did limited prep work but was back in stride well enough to record six birdies and two bogeys for an opening 65.

Scheffler spoke about the difference going from the 7,800-yard Open to the 6,700-yard Northeast.

"There it’s long and open,’’ he said. "Here it’s all about precision.’’

Auburn star Jacob Solomon provided another highlight with an ace on the third hole. 

"It was 144 yards dead into the wind,’’ Solomon said. “It was playing more like 160, so I hit eight iron.’’

"With the pin way back, it was as tough as that hole plays,’’ said Brad Valois, the four-time Rhode Island Amateur champion who was his playing partner. "It hit about a foot behind the hole and spun back in.’’

"That’s a memory,’’ Solomon said. Solomon finished with a 66 that also included birds on each of the last two holes.
The stroke average for the day was 70.6. No records are kept in that department, but that is thought to be the lowest one-day number in tournament history.

Northeast Amateur History

The Northeast Amateur Invitational is considered a ‘major’ in amateur golf, and is ranked #4 of the U.S. amateur golf events of more than 700 events ranked by the R&A World Amateur Ranking List. It is the only 72 hole amateur event played in twosomes, and has been given the name of “Masters of Amateur Golf” by a noted senior golf writer. The tournament began in 1962 and was played as a 54 hole event until 1968. Currently the tournament is conducted over 72 holes of stroke play, with a cut after 54 holes. The field consists of top amateur players throughout the world and is limited to 90 players, by invitation only. 

Past champions have included Dustin Johnson, Luke Donald, Hal Sutton, Ben Crenshaw and Anthony Kim.

Wannamoisett Country Club

Wannamoisett Country Club is home to one of the finest golf courses in the United States. The Donald Ross designed par 69 masterpiece has been ranked as one of the Top 50 courses in the nation by Golf Magazine, Golfweek and Golf Digest. In addition, Links Magazine voted Wannamoisett one of "The 100 Most Prestigious Golf Clubs in the World". Wannamoisett hosted the PGA Championship in 1931 and welcomes the world's best amateur golfers to the annual Northeast Amateur Invitational.

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