CLASS OF 1990
BOB ASTLEFORD (Omaha)
A member of the Field Club of Omaha, he won a record eight State Men’s Amateur Championships, including six in a row, which is also a record.
The eight state titles came in 1955, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, and 1967. He also won seven Omaha Publics Championships. He qualified for the U.S. Open on several occasions, missing the cut by 1 in 1965 at Bellerive.
Astleford was a member of the board of directors and past president of the Nebraska Amateur Golf Association. More recently, he was in charge of Public Golf and Golf Courses as a director of the Parks and Recreation Department for the City of Omaha.
JOHNNY GOODMAN (Omaha)
First achieved national prominence when he defeated medalist and defending champion Bobby Jones in the first round of the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach in 1929.
Won the U.S. (only Nebraskan to do so) in 1937. Was the runner-up in 1932 and lost in the semi-finals in 1935. Played on three United States Walker Cup teams.
Won the U.S. Open at age 23 at North Shore CC, Glenview, IL., in 1933, and defeating tournament favorites Ralph Guldahl, Tommy Armour and Gene Sarazen. Broke the course record with a second-round 66.
The last amateur to win the U.S. Open.
Born in 1910, he started as a caddy at the Field Club of Omaha, later becoming a member. He won 60 tournaments during his career. The first was the Omaha City at age 16. Goodman later moved to California where he passed away at age 60.
SAM REYNOLDS (Omaha)
Won seven Nebraska State Amateur Championships – 1912, 1914, 1916, 1919, 1922, 1923 and 1926. In addition, was the runner-up on four other occasions.
Trans Mississippi champion in 1917.
Appointed a U.S. Senator in 1954. Elected to the Omaha City council. Also, a past president of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce and past commander of Post #1 American Legion.
In 1950, he organized and directed Omaha’s first Civil Defense Unit. President Eisenhower awarded him the Freedom Foundation Medal for his successful effort to contain the Missouri River floodwaters.
Shot his age, 69, in 1959, and did it each year until he was 87. Vice-president and General Manager of Reynolds-Updike Coal Company, he worked until age 94.
DEL RYDER (GRAND ISLAND)
Started golfing career as a caddy at Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island where he won the club championship at age 16 in 1941. Eight more titles followed in 1942, 1947, 1949, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968 and 1969. Elected president of Riverside in 1972. Captain of the University of Nebraska Golf team, 1947-1949.
A founding board member of the Nebraska Amateur Golf Association in 1966, he was president of that organization in 1969. Was executive director of the NAGA from 1972 through 1988.
A past president of the International Association of Golf Administrators, he was recently appointed to the Sectional Affairs Committee of the United States Golf Association.
A partner of Ryder Rosacker McCue Insurance, he is past president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Nebraska.
DOROTHY SCHWARTZKOPF (LINCOLN)
In 1972, was instrumental in changing the organization of women’s golf in Nebraska. With the help of others, drafted a new constitution and standing rules which were adopted.
The result: The Nebraska Women’s Amateur Golf Association grew from 135 individuals representing 11 clubs to a current membership of 3,000 members from 81 clubs. NWAGA now conducts seven annual events, compared to one prior to 1972.
Served five years as NWAGA executive secretary, two years as vice-president and one as president.
Four-time Nebraska Women’s Match Play champion and the runner-up on four other occasions. First Nebraska Women’s Stroke Play champion in 1975 at age 56 and the Nebraska Women’s Senior champion in 1987. The only woman golfer to have won all three state championships.
BILL SCHUCHART (OMAHA)
Golf professional at Happy Hollow Country Club in Omaha for 35 years. Helped organize the Nebraska PGA in the 1930’s and served as the Section president for more years than any other individual. Schuchart was selected Nebraska Professional of the Year on two occasions.
The first Nebraska professional to serve on the National PGA board of Directors. He was instrumental in helping revive the Nebraska State Amateur in 1946; inaugurate the Omaha World Herald Junior Clinics and Championship; and create the Omaha Ladies City Tournament in 1950.
Won several State PGA championships and made the 36-hole cut in three U.S. Open championships in the 1930’s.
The patriarch of the only three-generation professional golf family in Nebraska, he spent 67 years in golf as a caddie, golf professional, golf promoter and pioneer.
CLASS OF 1991
JOHN SCHUMACHER (NEBRASKA CITY)
The Executive Director of the Nebraska Section of the PGA for 15 years (1951-1966), John was very instrumental in the growth of the sport of golf in our state.
At the time he left his PGA position, with the support of inaugural Hall of Fame inductees Bill Schuchart and Sam Reynolds and others, John developed and organized the Nebraska Senior Golf Association. He then became the executive director of the Senior Association for the next 20 years (1966-1986). During the time of his leadership, the Nebraska Senior Golf Association grew from a beginning membership of 100 golfers to nearly 500. John’s initial senior state championship tournament in 1967 drew 60 entries, an event that now attracts over 200 each year.
Schumacher, who moved from Nebraska City to Omaha in 1970, was recognized as an honorary lifetime member of the Nebraska Section of the PGA for the 35 years prior to his death.
HARRY OBITZ (RED CLOUD)
Harry Obitz has always called Red Cloud home, but his influence and impact on the game of golf has been world-wide. Although copied by hundreds of others since, he was the first to introduce the idea of golf schools to the public, a concept that revolutionized the teaching process.
His “Swing’s the Thing” golf schools were followed by his instructional book with the same title. His many pupils have been President Kennedy and Eisenhower, Fred Waring, Ed Sullivan, Neil Simon, and Mickey Mantle. At the time of his induction, he had been the instructional editor for Golf Magazine since 1953.
Obitz was the golf course architect for the Palm Are Country Club in Boca Raton, FL; Montauk Country Club in Long Island, NY; and Nebraska’s Lochland Country Club in Hastings and Heritage Hills in McCook. He also served as Vice President for the PGA of America from 1947 to 1962.
BETTY MARCHESE (OMAHA)
After starting her golfing career at the age of eight, Betty Marchese played in her first women’s state match play tournament when she was twelve. She later won the prestigious championship and was the runner-up on seven other occasions.
A four-time Omaha women’s city champion, she won 29 club titles at the Omaha Field Club and Happy Hollow Club. A past president of the Nebraska Women’s Golf Association, Betty played in the championship flight of three Trans-Nationals and one Women’s Western.
Betty, her husband Sam, four daughters and one son are truly an outstanding Nebraska golfing family. Daughter Susan has dominated the Nebraska women’s golfing scene in recent years, while daughter Debbie and son Tim are also among the top young golfers in the state.
LUCILLE MANN (OMAHA)
One of the nation’s most prominent amateur golfers, Lucille Mann won the Nebraska Women’s State Championship five times in six years from 1950 to 1955. She also was the Omaha City women’s champion five consecutive summers, 1951-1955.
After taking up the game at the age of eight, she won the first tournament she entered. At age 15 she became the Des Moines City Champion.
Lucille was the Iowa state champion five times in six years from 1929-1934, and runner up the year she missed wearing the crown. She was also the Wisconsin state champion three times 1938,1939, and 1940.
She was a member of the 1934 U.S. Curtis Cup team, the same year she was the medalist at the U.S. National Amateur.
The first woman ever inducted into the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame, Lucille Mann has previously been honored by many organizations including the Nebraska Women’s Golf Association, the Omaha Sportscasters Association, the City of Omaha, and Aksarben.
CLASS OF 1992
BOB POPP (OMAHA)
At the age of 20, Bob Popp began his career as a golf club professional. His first three positions spanned just a total of 10 years. Did that mean Popp was to be a nomad throughout his career, moving every three years? Hardly! in 1959 he accepted the position as head golf professional at Omaha Country Club where he stayed for the next 31 years until his retirement in 1989.
During that time, Popp won the Nebraska PGA title four times (1960, 63, 64, and 67). Bob, who has had nine holes-in-one during his career, lowered the Omaha Country Club course record three times — from 66 to 65 and then to the current mark of 64.
A three-time president of the Nebraska Section of the PGA, Popp was named Nebraska Pro of the Year in 1966, 69, and 82. He also served three, three-year terms on the National PGA Executive Committee (1966-69; 1975-78; and 1982-95).
Bob Popp received the ultimate accolade in his profession in 1982 when he was named the National Professional of the year by the PGA of America.
He and his wife Betty are the parents of two sons, Bob and Tony.
JEAN HYLAND (LINCOLN)
Following graduation from Lincoln High and the University of Nebraska, Jean Hyland soon began to dominate women’s golf in Nebraska (along with Hall of Famer Dorothy Schwatrzkopf).
Jean won the first of her seventeen Lincoln City titles in 1950 and the most recent in 1991. She also captured the Nebraska State match play championship five times — 1957, 61, 62, 68, and 74 — and was runner-up on five other occasions.
Hyland was one of just two Nebraskans to qualify for the championship flight of the Women’s Trans Mississippi tournament when it was held at Omaha Country Club in 1972.
Jean has played an active role in NWAGA (Nebraska Women’s Amateur Golf Association), serving on the committee to organize and write the constitution for NWAGA in 1972. She was also the organization’s treasurer from 1975-1977, and tournament chair from 1978-1982.
Hyland was inducted into the Lincoln Journal Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame in 1982. Also, in 1986, she and Schwartzkopf became the first women to be inducted into the Lincoln High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Jean and he’s husband Paul now enjoy golf year-round by spending their retirement winters in Arizona.
JIM ENGLISH (OMAHA)
Jim English won his Nebraska Amateur golf championship while a student at Creighton University in 1947 and was the runner-up the next summer.
Perhaps the most prestigious tournament in those days was the Trans-Miss. English was the 1950 champion, recording an 11&10 victory in the 36-hole final match, a margin that remains the most lopsided in Trans-Miss history.
During that time, Jim simultaneously held the course record at the Happy Hollow Club, Omaha Field Club, and Highland Country Club.
After moving from Nebraska, English became a dominant golfer in Colorado, Iowa, and Kansas. He won the Iowa Open in 1950 and the Kansas Amateur championship in 1954 and 1956. In Colorado, he won the state match play title in 1957 and 1960 as well as the stroke play crown in 1958, 59, and 61. English was also the Broadmoor Invitational winner in 1955 and 1964.
English, who was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 1980, qualified for the U.S. Open seven times and was the low amateur in 1959, thus topping Jack Nicklaus who failed to make the 36-hole cut.
Jim and his wife Margaret, who died in 1972, were the parents of 11 children. “They are my real riches – a beautiful family,” English said.
RODNEY BLISS (OMAHA)
With nine state amateur golf championships to his credit, Rod Bliss Jr. compiled a record equaled by few in the nation. Born in 1912, this Omaha native graduated from Central High before heading east to Cornell University where he graduated in 1934.
Home from college in the summers, Rod won his first two Nebraska Amateur Championships following his sophomore and junior year’s in 1932 and ’33. In all, Bliss won the title six times (1932, 33, 34, 37, 40, and 48). The span of 16 years between his first and last championship is greater than any other past Nebraska champion.
Bliss also won the Nebraska Open before moving to Iowa where he won that state’s amateur championship three times, in 1951, ’55, and ’61. Thus, 29 years elapsed between his first state championship and his last. While living in Iowa, Bliss also added three Des Moines city titles to his trophy case.
While often a winner, Bliss also compiled an outstanding record of finishing second in a variety of events. He was the runner up in the 1933 NCAA championship, twice finished second in the Western Amateur, and was the second low amateur at the 1934 U.S. Open.
Bliss, who died at the age of 76, is survived by his wife Dorthea, daughter Barbara, and son Rod Bliss III.
CLASS OF 1993
CHRISTIE SCHWARTZKOPF SCHROFF (LINCOLN)
Christie Schwartzkopf Schroff was an eight-time finalist in the Nebraska State Women’s championship, winning the title in 1969-70-71 and 73, while finishing as the runner-up in 1965-66-74 and 76.
She often met her mother, Dorothy Schwatrzkopf in the semifinals or finals during those years. Her mother, an inaugural Hall of Fame inductee, compiled an identical four win/four runner-up record in the state match play championship event.
Schroff started her golf career with the first of three Lincoln City Junior Girls championships in 1959 at age 10, and was the State Junior Girls champion in both 1962 and ’64.
The Lincoln native, who in 1987 was elected to the Lincoln High School Athletic Hall of Fame, earned her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Nebraska. About the same time, she hung up her Attorney at Law shingle, she also hung up her golf spikes.
Over the years, Christie has helped her favorite sport behind the scenes as well. Among other things, she envisioned the need for a state women’s golf organization to involve more women, and was active in the reorganization, beginning in 1972, of the Nebraska Women’s Amateur Golf Association, now nearly 3,000 members strong. She also has been an advocate for equal opportunity for women in athletics.
Christie and her husband Cliff, who is an avid cyclist, are the parents of two daughters, Kaile and Hannah.
WILMA GILLILAND (KIMBALL)
Although an accomplished golfer in her own right, Wilma Gilliland is best known and rightfully recognized for her tireless involvement in the administration of golf at both the state and national level.
Among many other tournament victories, the long-time resident of Kimball won the state women’s sand green championship six times and was the inaugural champion of both the Western Regional (1977) and the Nebraska State Seniors for Women (1979).
For a majority of the 1980’s and early 90’s, Wilma was extremely active in both the United States Golf Association and the Women’s Trans National Golf Association.
Wilma has been tournament director for the Trans National since 1983. She competed in the Trans-National championship from 1961 to 1971. In one tournament she lost on the 19th hole to former LPGA President Alice Miller; played with Nancy Lopez in Nancy’s first Trans in 1971 and was President of the Trans when Nancy won the championship in 1976.
Wilma was a member of the USGA Senior Women’s Championship committee from 1980-84; a member of the selection committee for the Curtis Cup and the World Team from 1987-90; and a member of the USGA Public Golf Committee from 1987-90. She also held the position of chairman for the USGA Women’s Committee.
She was one of the first women from Nebraska appointed to serve on any USGA national committee and since that time has been instrumental is getting other women from the state appointed to every USGA sub-committee.
JOHN FRILLMAN (OMAHA)
John Frillman, longtime professional at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, was a past president of the Nebraska Section of the PGA and won the section championship five times. He has also won the section’s senior championship five times. In 1986, he won both titles.
John, who qualified for and played in three U.S. Open championships, was on the regular PGA Tour for four years (1960-1964). In 1988 he qualified for the PGA Senior Tour where he enjoyed a number of top 20 finished while competing on a part-time basis.
At the time of his induction, John recently played in the U.S. Senior Open in Florida and made the cut. An eight-time delegate to the PGA National Convention, John has played an exhibition with Lee Trevino at Omaha’s Miracle Hills course and another with Arnold Palmer at Oak Hills Country Club.
CLASS OF 1994
GARY WIREN (OMAHA)
A world-renown author and teacher of the game, Gary Wiren wrote the PGA teaching manual and five other books on golf. He was named the national PGA Teacher of the Year in 1987 and is the Director of Instruction for the Mizuno Golf Schools with 90 sites in Japan and over 60,000 students each year.
Although born in Ft. Dodge, IA, Gary’s family moved to Omaha when he was one, living there until his graduation from Creighton Prep in 1953.
Wiren then left for Huron College in South Dakota where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1960. Advanced degrees followed with a master’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1960 and his doctor’s degree from the University of Oregon in 1968.
Prior to his association with the Mizuno schools in Japan, Wiren was named the director of education for the PGA of America in 1972. During the next 12 years he also served as Director of Club Relations, the PGA Hall of Fame and of Learning and Research for the PGA of America.
A collegiate conference champion, Wiren now lives in Florida where he has won the state senior championship. In 1991 he added the national senior stroke play championship for his age division (55-59) with rounds of 71-69.
RALPH “BUD” WILLIAMSON SR. (LINCOLN)
Bud Williamson was the head professional at the Country Club of Lincoln for 30 years, serving as president of the Nebraska Section PGA seven times and qualifying for 13 PGA Championships. A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, the former caddie won his city’s Amateur Championship in 1931. He entered the professional ranks and worked at Decatur, Indiana, before returning to his hometown to be pro at Orchard Ridge. He was the Indiana Open champion in 1937 and 1941, won the Indiana PGA Championship three times and recorded a third-place finish in the 1939 Miami Open. He is in the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame.
While at the Country Club from 1942 to 1971, Williamson in 1944 won the St. Louis and Mid-West Opens and tied for fourth at the Tam O’Shanter All American in Chicago won by Byron Nelson. He played in the 1947 U.S. Open. At the PGA, he made it to match play in 1957 and the 36-hole cut in 1959. He won 11 Nebraska Section PGA titles. He coached the Nebraska men’s golf team from 1946 to 1948.
In retirement, he was active in the Florida Section PGA and its seniors’ program. Bud Williamson died in 2001.
WALLY HOPP (HASTINGS)
Wally Hopp was a dominant sand greens golfer in the days when green grass courses were only found in Omaha and Lincoln.
A Hastings native, Hopp was the Hastings City Champion for five consecutive years (1946-50). He prodded that string of victories by winning the State Sand Greens title in 1945, then added three more state championships to his trophy case in 1952, 53, and 56.
A lover of competition at any level, Wally was a familiar figure at the many one and two-day weekend “open” tournaments in Nebraska and Kansas, wining more than 50 championships.
Before his untimely death, in a letter to the Hall of Fame selection committee, former Lt. Governor Gerald Whelan wrote, “Charisma is an overworked word, but whatever it is, Wally Hopp has it. On the golf course, Wally’s stories and jokes were always flying — but never did a club fly.”
“Wally was and is a rough and ready guy, but his etiquette is always impeccable. His language on and off the course is fit for the seminary. Wally was always the premiere shooter in any foursome. But, if paired with a high handicapper, he always went out of his way to make that person feel comfortable. Both as a champion golfer and a great person, Wally Hopp belongs in the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame.”
CLASS OF 1995
MATT ZADALIS (OMAHA)
Matt Zadalis was the Nebraska state champion in 1938, but gained even greater recognition in the game of golf when he followed his amateur days with a long and impressive career as a teaching professional.
Matt was born in Omaha and three years after his graduation from Omaha South High School he was won the first Omaha Publinks Championship, a tournament he later won on four additional occasions.
Zadalis was the medalist at the Western Amateur in 1936 and two years later won the Nebraska State Amateur Championship, a tournament in which he finished as the runner-up three other times. He currently holds or at one time held the course record at 10 different Omaha area courses. But it’s unlikely that anything attests to Matt’s playing ability more than the fact that he shot a 63 at the Omaha Field Club at the age of 74.
Zadalis managed to combine his love for the game of golf into both his work and play in 1933 when he became the course superintendent at the Spring Lake Park course. He later took the same job at Benson park in 1939.
In 1947 Matt became a member of the PGA and was the first golf professional hired by the City of Omaha. He served as the pro at the Miller Park and Spring Lake Park courses from that time until 1975.
In 1962, he became the first public or municipal professional to be elected PGA Professional of the Year. Matt influenced the lives of many young golfers. He organized the first Omaha public junior golf program, conducting free junior clinics. His clinics were nationally recognized as one of the oldest and largest programs of its kind.
Matt and his wife Anna Home Zadalis, who is deceased, were the parents of four children, Delores, Robert, James, and Daniel.
JOSEPH HADWICK (LINCOLN)
Joseph Hadwick, the longtime course superintendent at the Country Club of Lincoln, is part of a history-making family.
Joe’s father Charlie was the course superintendent at the Jefferson City (MO) Country Club for 50 years. The family rarity was created when all four of Joseph’s sons became involved in the same profession — a three-generation family dating back to when golf course maintenance first began in the United States.
Joseph, who was affectionately called “The Sod Father” by the club members in Lincoln, worked for his father every summer from the time he was seven.
After college he served in the European Theater during WWII. Then Joe returned to Jefferson City as his father’s assistant until the fall of 1951 when he was named the superintendent of the Country Club of Lincoln.
When he retired in June of 1984, he was succeeded by his son Charles. Son Tom is one of Charles’ full-time crew members, while son John is the course superintendent at Grand Island Muni. Son Bob is the super at Dub’s Dread Golf Course in Lansing, Kansas. One of Joe’s three daughters, Jean Marie, is also involved in the same field. She is the landscape gardener at the Country Club of Lincoln.
BYRON “BY” ADAMS (LINCOLN)
“By” Adams won four state sand green golf championships, more than any other in Nebraska Golf history.
In 1951 at the Country Club of Lincoln, he became the first sand green champ to capture the state amateur grass green title.
A resident of Phoenix, prior to his death, September 29, 1993, Adams was born in Tilden, NE. He graduated from Grand Island High School in 1938 and from the University of Nebraska in 1943. He lived much of his adult life in Fairbury and later in Omaha before moving out of state.
During the WWII of 1942 and 1943, “By” served as both player and coach of the Nebraska Golf team, but his notoriety as a top golfer started much earlier than that. Adams was the medalist in the Grand Island City Championships at the age of 14 and won that tournament in the summers of 1936, 37, and 38 following his sophomore, junior and senior years in high school.
“By” also won the state high school championship both as a junior and a senior. Also, during the summer following his senior year, at the age of 17, Adams won the first of his sand green titles. His others came in 1939, 53, and 53. He also won the Lincoln City championship in 1943, 46, and 48.
CLASS OF 1996
ELIZABETH “LIZ” MURRAY (LINCOLN)
Liz Murray was born in Akron Ohio and graduated from Boston University’s Sargent School of Physical Education. In her senior year, she was named “most athletic of the class of 1929.”
That summer Liz moved back to Akron and took up golf for the first time. She belonged to the famous Firestone Country Club, carried an eight handicap, and was the runner-up for the club championship in 1941. Married to David E. Murray in 1939, they moved to Topeka Kansas in 1945, and then to Lincoln Nebraska in 1949.
Liz was twice winner of the Hillcrest Country Club’s women’s club championship and runner-up in the women’s city. She was the state senior women’s champion in 1959 and twice the runner-up.
Even greater than her contributions on the golf course, Liz Murray’s efforts behind the scenes have been even more important. In 1969, she helped organize the Nebraska Junior Girl’s Golf Association and served as its executive secretary for 21 years. Her tireless efforts for junior girl’s golf also included serving as coach of Nebraska’s 4-State Team from 1979 until the very recent past.
In 1989, at the 60th reunion of her college class, Boston University bestowed on Liz its Twiness Award as the outstanding graduate of her class.
As proud as she is of the honors she has received, Liz’s most cherished was every golfer’s dream – her first hole-in-one at the age of 80!
ROBERT FRASER (OMAHA)
Robert “Bob” Fraser won two consecutive Nebraska State Amateur championships – five years apart!
The Omaha native, who has lived in Jackson Wyoming since his retirement in 1980, won his first state title in 1941. The tournament, which had been conducted uninterrupted since 1905, was then discontinued for four years from 1942-1945 because of World War II. When the championship resumed in 1946, Fraser won the crown again. Fraser added a third title eight years later in 1954.
Those weren’t Fraser’s first state championships, however. He was the state high school champ in 1932 while attending Creighton Prep.
While attending Creighton University in 1936, Fraser was the runner-up in the Western Amateur, made it to the fifth round of the U.S. Amateur in Garden City, NY; and was named to sportswriter Grantland Rice’s four man all-college team.
Fraser, who has had five holes-in-one, was also the Missouri Valley Champion in 1937 during his tenure at Creighton.
After his graduation from Creighton Law in 1939, Fraser later became the club champion at both the Happy Hollow Club and the Omaha Country Club. During that time, he was vice president and a board member of Happy Hollow and also a board member at OCC.
After moving to Wyoming, Fraser continued his fine play. He was not only club champion at the Jackson Hole Golf Club, but from 1989 to 1991 he shot his age when he was 73, 74, and 75.
AL BEISTER (FREMONT)
Al Beister was “Mr. Golf” in Fremont, Nebraska, serving more than 30 years as the head golf professional at the Fremont Golf Club (1952-83). His influence on people and the game reached far beyond that city or the state’s boundaries. In addition to serving as president of the Nebraska Section of the PGA, Al was elected national vice-president of the PGA of America.
An excellent player, Al qualified for the 1946 PGA Championship and the 1950 U.S. Open. An even more outstanding teacher of the game, Beister watched three of his Fremont High teams win the state championships. The children of at least six of his Fremont GC members followed Al’s footsteps into the golf profession.
A few of Nebraska’s past state golf champions who were touched by Al’s expertise include Bob Fraser, who is also being inducted into the Hall of Fame in this class, plus other past Hall of Fame honorees Jim English, Byron Adams and Del Ryder.
Al Beister’s respect for the game of golf is legendary. He was a traditionalist of the game at a time during tremendous change.
Beister began his career as an assistant professional at the Highland Country Club in Omaha, then moved to the Happy Hollow Club. He later was the head pro at the Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island before beginning his long stint in Fremont.
Al Beister, who left an indelible mark on the sport of golf, died January 31, 1989.
CLASS OF 1997
RICHARD L. “DICK” SPANGLER (LINCOLN)
Space isn’t available to list all of the individual golfing honors that Dick Spangler won during a career that began in earnest 40-some years ago. But it was a team selection — not an individual achievement — that he still lists among his most satisfying moments.
“When I was in the Air Force in the mid 50’s,” Spangler explains, “qualifying was held at all the bases to pick a five-man all-Air Force team. Miller Barber and I were two of the five to make it. Don January failed to make the cut. So did Joe Conrad, who the year before had won the British Amateur.” In the all-service matches that followed against the Army and Navy teams, the Air Force won by 27 strokes.
While stationed at the Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Spangler won the Mississippi State amateur championship in 1955.
A University of Nebraska Law College graduate, Dick was a three-year letterman for the Cornhuskers. During that time, he was the Lincoln City champion in 1950 and ’51 and also won the Nebraska State amateur title in 1952.
After leaving the Air Force, Spangler added two more Nebraska State championships in 1957 and ’58; and fired a course-record 63 at The Country Club of Lincoln.
A member of the Trans-Mississippi Board of Directors since 1969, Spangler has qualified for the U.S. Amateur championship nine times; and has been a U.S. Senior Amateur qualifier four times. In addition, Spangler is the immediate past president of the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame.
DEAN CANDEA (NORTH PLATTE)
Dean Candea says that golf was a different game than it was today when he grew up in North Platte.
“The only courses in the area had sand greens, the high school didn’t have a golf team, and nobody knew what a handicap was,” he said.
That’s the reason tennis was Dean’s sport until he got out of the service after World War II.
“All the courses in our area of the state still had sand greens when I took up golf,” Candea adds, “although North Platte Country Club eventually had nine grass greens and nine were sand.”
Candea is being recognized for his dominance as a sand greens player by his induction into the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame. It is said that he considered it a bad round if his 18-hole score every exceeded 59. He still cherishes the three gold putters he won as the state sand green champion in 1949, 50, and 51.
CLASS OF 1998
WILLIAM J. “BUNNY” RICHARDS (LINCOLN)
For 37 years Bunny Richards was the head golf professional at the Hillcrest Country Club. He came to Lincoln in 1946 after his discharge from the Air Force as a Staff Sergeant and remained the head pro until he retired in 1983. Prior to World War II, Bunny had been the head pro at the Manhattan Country Club in Kansas.
Richards, who dies in 1990 at the age of 71, was widely respected as a teacher — not just of the swing and mechanics of golf – but as a person who instilled respect and etiquette plus the tradition and integrity of the game in those he tutored.
Bunny took great pride in the accomplishments of the people he introduced to the game, many of whom became the outstanding golfers in the state.
“If I can teach a person the basic fundamentals and get them interested in golf, then I’ve done my part,” he often said. “The game itself will take care of the rest after they become hooked on golf.”
In 1963 and again in 1980, Richards was named Professional of the Year by the Nebraska Section of the PGA. By maintaining his membership after retirement, Bunny earned his 50-year pin from the PGA. He was also president of the Nebraska Section in 1964.
Bunny’s extreme dedication was demonstrated in 1977 when he suffered a heart attack, underwent open-heart bypass surgery and was back on the job one month later.
PHYLLIS LARSON (OMAHA)
Four-time Nebraska women’s golf champion Phyllis Larson drove a Red Cross truck during World War I, made a hole-in-one after losing an eye to cancer and survived being struck by lightning while playing golf. She passed away at the age of 101.
Mrs. Larson won her four Nebraska championships in 1937, ’38, ’48, and ’54. Because of an illness in the family, she did not defend her championship in 1955, missing the state tournament for the first time since 1932.
A resident of Omaha for 60 years, Mrs. Larson moved to Florida in 1977. Called a “tough competitor” by many who played against her, Mrs. Larson certainly lived up to that reputation. After recovering from a broken hip at the age of 90, she returned to the links and was an active golfer until she lost her eyesight three years later.
A member of the Omaha Field Club in the early 1930’s, Mrs. Larson also belonged to the Happy Hollow Club before winning most of her golfing honors when she and her husband later belonged to the Omaha Country Club.
Married to W.O. Larson, Phyllis was a bookkeeper for the Harry Turkey Mortgage Company in the early 1900’s. Later, she and her husband operated their own real estate company.
In the early to mid 70s, before moving to Florida, Mrs. Larson was a great advocate for the junior girls in golf. She was credited with getting those in charge of the state championship to abolish the age minimum.
“I think its a young kids game,” she said in a 1975 interview. “If they can beat me, swell.”
BEN COWDERY (OMAHA)
Ben Cowdery was introduced to the game of golf at age 10 when Stanley Davies, the Omaha Field Club pro and Scottish club maker, made him a set of golf clubs.
Highlighting the golfing career that followed, Cowdery qualified for the U.S. Open — a rarity for any Nebraskan — and made it to the U.S. Amateur championship on three occasions.
After winning both the Field Club and Happy Hollow Club championships on one occasion, he captured the Omaha Country Club title ten times!
Cowdery was also the medalist in a Nebraska state amateur championships. Of the four times he entered the prestigious Tran-Mississippi tournament, he was twice a semi-finalist.
His record as a senior golfer was particularly outstanding. Cowdery entered the Nebraska State Senior championship five different years and won the event four times. He entered the World Seniors championship three times and was the medalist once and, on another occasion, made it to the semifinal round.
In addition, Cowdery was a member of the United States team at the World Senior Championship that won the team title.
Cowdery, the publisher of the Omaha World Herald, retired in the mid-70’s as the Chairman of the Board of the newspaper.
CLASS OF 1999
DEAN WILSON JR (OMAHA)
Dean Wilson Jr. has an outstanding high school and college golf career before winning the Nebraska Men’s Amateur championship in 1960. Wilson, who died in 1991, was also the runner-up in the state championship in both 1961 and ’63.
Wilson tied for top individual honors while pacing Omaha Central High to the 1951 state high school championship. That same year he won the state junior title.
While a student at Omaha University, Wilson led the team to a third-place finish at the NAIA nationals (individually he finished eighth in the nation); won the Beatrice Homesteader and two World Herald Publinks titles.
After college, Wilson won two more World Herald championships and was the runner up on four other occasions. Against the best in the country, he was the runner-up in the 1964 national U.S. Public Links championship. Among his many tournament victories were five KMTV titles, the Dunlop Open on two occasions and the Missouri Valley Open.
STANLEY DAVIES (OMAHA)
Stanley Davies arrived at the Omaha Field Club in 1914 from London, England, at the age of 19 to become a club maker and assistant to golf professional W.D. Clark.
Three years later Davies was named the Field Club’s head golf professional, a job he held until his death in 1953. The national PGA declared his 39 years of service as the longest any professional had served at the same club.
Davies was much better known as a teacher of the game than for his playing ability. He often referred to Johnny Goodman as his prize pupil.
Goodman went on to win both the U.S. Open (1933) and the U.S. Amateur (1937) — the only Nebraskan to ever accomplish either feat. And no amateur golfer has won the U.S. Open since Goodman’s victory.
Davies was also the host director when the U.S. Amateur championship was held at the Field Club in 1941.
SUSAN MARCHESE (OMAHA)
Susan Marchese started her illustrious career in golf with two state high school championships while attending Duchesne Academy in the late 70’s. She followed that by tying for top individual Big Eight conference honors in 1981 while competing for the University of Oklahoma.
Nine times from 1982 to 1995 the Omaha native won the state women’s stroke play championship, and six times lined the state women’s match play title. Her six match play victories is the most ever in that event, one more than those by Lucille Mann and Jean Hyland, both whom were previously inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Marchese was also a nine-time winner of the Omaha City Women’s Championship.
At the national level, Marchese has qualified for more than 20 USGA events, becoming a quarter-finalist at both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur championships.
Susan’s mother Betty, a past state champion who died in 1994, was inducted into the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame in 1991. Sam Marchese (who often chided sportswriters for always identifying Susan as “Betty Marchese’s daughter”) is hereby properly recognized as her father.
Susan also has three sisters, Cathy Rush, Barb Marchese and Debby Conry, who was previously the head Men’s and Women’s golf coach at Creighton; and brother Tim Marchese, who has twice been the runner-up in the state amateur championship.
CLASS OF 2000
RALPH “WHITIE” REED (LINCOLN)
Born in Lincoln in 1915. Whitie has won tournaments in 8 successive decades (1929 to 1997). He has won 45 tournaments at every level except National, including the Greater Lincoln High School Championship representing Lincoln High School (1931 and 1932), the Lincoln City Championship (1940, 1957, and 1959), the Big 6 Conference representing the University of Nebraska in (1936), and the 1953 Nebraska Amateur. In addition, he won regional tournaments in Central and Eastern Nebraska, and Western Iowa.
Whitie competed in 9 National Championships, including 2 NCAA’s (1936 and 1937), 2 U.S. Publinx (1939 and 1967), 2 U.S. Senior amateurs (1970 and 1971), the 1948 U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open, and the 1997 U.S. Senior Olympics. Always competitive, Whittie was medalist or finalist an additional 39 times, including the Nebraska Amateur, the Nebraska Sand Greens (twice), and the Lincoln City (5 times). He has shot his age or better nearly 500 times on 22 golf courses of 6000 or more. He has 10 holes-in-one, including 3 in Nebraska and 7 in Arizona. Whittie was a member of Hillcrest Country Club from 1940 to 1960 and current plays 5 days a week at the Sun City Country Club in Arizona.
To give something back to the game, he served as Marshall or Marshall Captain for 34 PGA, LPGA, and Senior PGA events. During a period of 7 years, he was the Marshall Captain in charge of 40 volunteers on the first hole of the Phoenix Open. He also served for 8 years as a rules official for the Arizona Golf Association.
GENE CHADWELL (LINCOLN)
Gene Chadwell’s interest in golf started at the age of 12 when he became the owner of a golf club by trading lost golf balls found alongside the old Omaha Country Club in Benson while delivering the Omaha Daily News.
By the age of 14, he gave up his paper route to become a caddy at the Dundee Golf Course. He was captain of the Benson High School golf team, winning titles in 1928 and 1929. Golf was his game as he soon became a contender in all amateur golf tournaments in the area.
Gene won the World Herald Publinks Championship in 1946 — the same year he moved his family to Lincoln — then his career took off, mainly because he was able to spend more time on his game.
In the 1950’s he won the Lincoln City Tourney, Mid-State Open at Kearney, and The Fremont Invitational. In 1964 he won the Tournament of Champions at Grand Island, comparable to the State Tournament, and four State Senior championships followed — the last one in 1980, one month before his 70th birthday! He was also a six-time club champion at Hillcrest Country Club where he was a member for 23 years.
Gene has shot his age hundreds of times beginning at 69 and is still doing so or better! One of his rounds was 76 when he was 88.
He was instrumental in organizing golf leagues in Omaha and Lincoln (past president in both) and Lincoln Men’s Senior Golf (past president); and served on the Board of Directors at Hillcrest Country Club and Lincoln Men’s Golf Association.
DOUGLAS PETERSAN (STANTON)
It is rare when a small-town kid grows up to become a nationally sought-after expert in any field of endeavor. But Stanton, Nebraska, native Douglas Peterson has done just that while gaining a reputation as one of the nation’s most respected golf course superintendents.
With more than 35 years of experience, Petersan is especially recognized for the ability he has shown to solve complex turf grass problems at every course which he has cared.
Doug has also been instrumental in the professional development of at least 22 individuals who later became course superintendents in Nebraska — and throughout the country — after working under him.
Following graduation from Stanton High School and the University of Nebraska, Doug was hired in 1966 to maintain Pioneers Golf Course in Lincoln.
Three years later he left the state for the first time to take over as superintendent at Chicago Golf Club, but after five years he returned to serve the Fremont Golf Club.
In 1980 he was offered the job at one of the nation’s premier courses, the Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas. During his 10 years there, the club hosted four United States Golf Association national championships.
Up to that period of time in his career, Doug had been the Superintendent of the Year and the president of both the Nebraska and Kansas Golf Course Superintendents Associations.
In 1991 Petersan was hired away from Prairie Dunes by the Baltimore Country Club, a 36-hole facility. In the summer of 1999, Ben Crenshaw, who was the driving force behind the design and construction of the new Austin Country Club, convinced Doug to move to Texas and oversee the development of that complex from the outset. The course opened in 2000 and has recently hosted the WGC World Match Play Championship.
Despite being in demand nationally, Petersan has never forgotten his Nebraska roots. Doug served as a consultant for two of Nebraska’s most noted courses – The Firethorn Golf Club in Lincoln and the Sand Hills Golf Course in Mullen.
CHARLIE BORNER JR. (LINCOLN)
Charlie Borner, the longtime head professional and Director of Golf at the Hillcrest Country Club in Lincoln, had a brilliant playing career as an amateur before turning pro.
It started when he won three straight Lincoln City junior titles. Later, while just a junior at Lincoln high in 1963, Charlie not only won the state high school championship in the spring, but then won the Lincoln City Men’s championship that summer.
Borner became a rare two-time state high school champion as a senior. That led to him being named Lincoln High’s “Outstanding L-Man.” He has since been named to the Lincoln High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Charlie won the State Amateur championship three times (1968, ’70, and ’73) and was the runner-up on four other occasions. He was the first to win both the state stroke and math play titles in the same year when he added the latter in 1970. Borner was also named Nebraska’s outstanding amateur golfer in 1973.
In 1967, Charlie was the first University of Nebraska golfer to ever earn a spot as an individual in the NCAA national championship.
Nationally he was the runner-up at the Western Amateur, being edged in the final by Lanny Watkins. He also qualified for and played in three USGA National Amateur Championships.
For six years after graduation from NU, Borner was a teacher and golf coach for North Platte Public Schools. He then became an assistant professional at Omaha’s Highland Country Club before serving in that same capacity for eight years at The Country Club of Lincoln.
In 1983 he was named the head professional at Hillcrest, replacing Hall of Fame member William “Bunny” Richards. He became Director of Golf in 1990.
Recognized as an outstanding teacher of the game, Borner was the recipient of the Nebraska PGA Section’s Horton Smith Award in 1985; named the Professional of the year in 1986; won the PGA Section championship in 1988 and has qualified for and played in eight PGA National Club Professional Championships.
CLASS OF 2001
FRANK ROSE (FAIRBURY)
Frank Rose is an actuary whose golf numbers add up to one of the most distinguished amateur careers in the Midlands.
Now living in Eden Prairie, Minn., Rose played competitively in Nebraska from 1966 to 1970 and from 1983 to 1994. In the Nebraska Amateur, he made the 36-hole cut in 16 of 17 tournaments and finished in the top 20 in each instance, with 13 top-10 finishes and two championships (1969 and 1986). He also was the runner-up in the Nebraska men’s match-play tournament in 1969, the only time he entered.
A three-year University of Nebraska letterman (1968 to 1970) from Fairbury, Rose won a record five Kansas Amateurs while living in Topeka from 1970 to 1982. He was in the finals a record seven times, including four consecutive years. He is in the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame.
Frank qualified for five U.S. Amateurs, reaching the third round of match play in 1975; five British Amateurs, reaching the fourth round of match play in 1981; and three U.S. Mid-Amateurs, reaching the third round of match play in 1985. He reached sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open five times and played in 10 Trans-Mississippi Amateurs, four Sunnehanna Amateurs and one Porter Cup.
The Nebraska Golf Association’s amateur of the year in 1970, Rose has been a course evaluator for Golf Digest. In 1990 the Topeka Capitol-Journal newspaper selected him as one of the two best Topeka golfers of all time.
GENE JOHNSON (OMAHA)
Gene Johnson has been at the center of Omaha public golf since 1972 as head golf professional at Johnny Goodman Golf Course. And until physical ailments curtailed his competitive, he was one of the state’s best professional golfers.
Fremont is a special place for Gene. He grew up in Fremont winning the Class A state title in 1958 in his senior year at Fremont. He was working for Hall of Famer AL Beister by age 14, returning later as an assistant pro, and also was head professional for almost two years at Valley View south of Fremont.
Johnson played college golf at the University of Nebraska before turning professional. He was accepted as a PGA member in 1962, the year he qualified for the PGA Championship. While in the military service, Gene twice was Fifth Army champion, beating the likes of Homero Blancas and eventual U.S. Open champion Orville Moody, and was in charge of the base course at Fort Riley, Kansas.
In 1965, he joined Bob Popp at Omaha Country Club as an associate pro and worked there until hired in 1972 to run Omaha’s new, 18-hole Applewood Golf Course (it recently was renamed for Goodman, the 1933 U.S. Open champion from Omaha).
Some of John’s “Alumni” include Tony Pesavento at Omaha Country Club, Kevin Chestnut at Westwood Heights in Omaha and PGA Life Member Kent Lyons, who continues to work at Goodman. They marvel over his understanding of the golf swing, his promotion of the game, his management of one of the state’s busiest facilities and his generosity.
DON BRIDGE (NORFOLK)
Don Bridge was one of northeast Nebraska’s premier golfers for many years and a major contributor to the modern-day Nebraska Golf Association.
Bridge’s list of playing accomplishments include five victories at Norfolk Country Club’s Labor Day Amateur, one of the state’s top weekend tournaments, and a Nebraska State Seniors championship. He was twice runner-up in the Nebraska men’s match-play championship and had two top-five finishes at the Nebraska Amateur.
Bridge qualified three times for the U.S. Senior Amateur and was a two-time winner at the state’s Tournament of Champions. He had 17 holes in one during his long playing career.
A past president of the NGA and a board member for nine years. Bridge served from 1975 to 1980 on the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He also was an early mentor to Jim Ahern, who has a successful run on the Senior PGA Tour.
A native of Norfolk who graduated from Norfolk High School in 1940 and was an alumnus at the University of Nebraska, Don passed away in April of 2001.
CLASS OF 2002
DAN BAHENSKY (KEARNEY)
Dan Bahensky was the first three-time recipient of the Nebraska Golf Association’s amateur of the year award as one of the state’s dominant golfers of the 1970’s. Two state titles and 12 consecutive berths on the state’s amateur team for the Nebraska Cup pro-am matches reinforce Bahensky’s stature.
Bahensky was the 1972 Nebraska Amateur champion at Lochland Country Club, when he was the youngest champion (age 20) at the time, and the 1975 state match-play champion at Capehart (now Willow Lakes). He had top-10 finishes from 1971 to 1982 in the Nebraska Amateur, except for 1977 (did not play). He was in the match-play semifinals from 1973 to 1977. He was the state’s outstanding amateur in 1972, 1972, and 1975.
He qualified for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 1975 and 1976, advancing to the quarterfinals and third round respectively. He lost to Ben Crenshaw 4&3 in the 1973 Trans-Mississippi and as a collegian he played for the 1970 NAIA nationals for Kearney State and in the 1973 NCAA nationals for the University of Nebraska.
An accomplished sand-greens player, he was a two-time high school sand greens runner-up and a three-time champion (1968 to 1970). His career best round was 14 under par 58 at St. Paul Country Club in a high school dual.
Dan is a past president of the Kearney Country Club and has served on the NGA board.
VAL SKINNER (NORTH PLATTE)
Val Skinner is a six-time winner on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour who ranks among the tour’s all-time leading money winners. She also has been a leader in the fundraising efforts within the LPGA to eradicate the breast cancer and was the tour’s Susan G. Komen Award winner in 1999.
Born in Montana and presently residing in Delray Beach, FL., Val was the 1974 and 1978 Nebraska junior girls state champion, the 1976 and 1978 Class A state girls high school champion as a student at North Platte High School and the 1980 Nebraska women’s match-play champion.
At Oklahoma State, she was Big Eight champion in 1980 and 1982 as well as the conference’s outstanding female athlete of the year in 1981-1982. The NCAA and AIAW All-American was Golf Magazine’s college player of the year for 1982.
Her pro career, which started in 1983, has included a pair of three-year streaks in which she won tournaments each year. She was ninth on the LPGA money list in 1995 and 10th in 1996. She has won more than $2.4 million on the tour.
Val is the chairman of LIFE (LPGA Professionals in the Fight to Eradicate breast cancer), a charity that features a pro-am in Jackson, NJ to benefit the New Jersey Cancer Institute and the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. She also has appeared frequently in her adopted home state for charity golf events and has established the Val Skinner Foundation.
CLASS OF 2003
NANETTE CIRCO (OMAHA)
A five-time state champion, Nan Circo was a member of the University of Nebraska’s Big Eight championship team of 1976 who went on to play on the LPGA Tour.
Nanette M. Circo’s golf career started with three consecutive Nebraska junior golf championships beginning in 1971. She lettered at NU in 1976, 1977, and 1978 with the Huskers winning the first Big Eight tournament.
Her first women’s state championship came in 1976 at Hillcrest Country Club in Lincoln, where she defeated Christie Schwartzkopf in the finals. She repeated the following year at Hillcrest, beating Val Skinner in the finals, then won at Highland Country Club (now Ironwood) in Omaha in 1979 by again besting Skinner in the finals. She was state stroke-play champion in 1978 and 1979, making her the first to win both women’s championships in the same year.
After moving to San Diego, CA., where she still resides, and playing several years on the Futures Tour, Circo qualified for the LPGA Tour for its 1984 season.
TOM OLSON (OMAHA)
Omaha attorney Tom Olson is a three-time state champion who has been selected 20 times to the Nebraska Cup amateur team. He also is a longtime board member for the Nebraska Golf Association.
Born in Racine, WI., Thomas M. Olson attended Notre Dame and is a 1972 graduate of Creighton University School of Law. His first state title was the 1976 match-play championship at Hillcrest Country Club in Lincoln. He followed up four years later with the 1980 match-play title at Highland Country Club (now Ironwood) in Omaha.
In 1997, at age 51, he became the oldest winner of the Nebraska Amateur championship when he played four rounds at Fremont Golf Club in 1-under 283. He closed out the field with a final round even par 71. He remained a perennial challenger in state tournaments long thereafter. Tom also has won 2 state seniors titles.
In USGA competition, he played in four U.S. Mid-Amateurs and the 1997 State Team Championship. At Omaha Country Club, he was men’s club champion 10 times in a 22-year period between 1971 and 1992 and has 13 titles overall.
For a 25-year period between the late 80’s and early 2000’s, Tom has served on the NGA board and was also a member of the USA’s Senior Amateur Committee.
DICK KNIGHT (OMAHA)
Although he left for California at age 27, Dick Knight’s Nebraska portion of an illustrious golfing career was memorable. State high school champion, Nebraska Amateur champion, youngest pro at the state’s oldest golf course.
John Richard Knight graduated from Omaha Central in 1946 after winning the boys golf state championship. His interest in golf developed, in part, from watching the play of the 1933 U.S. Open champion Johnny Goodman.
Dick enrolled at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State), where he lettered as a teammate of Bo Wininger and Don January, before entering the U.S. Navy. In 1949, he won the All-Navy championship and the next year added the Nebraska Amateur and Open titles before turning professional. He defeated Del Ryder 5&4 for the Nebraska Amateur title at Kearney Country Club.
Dick was a part-time player on the PGA Tour in 1953, then served as head pro at the Navy-Marine course on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu before the Field Club of Omaha hired the 23-year-old as its pro following the death of Stanley Davies. He was at Field Club for the 11954 and 1955 seasons, then became a partner with Leon Pounders in a west Omaha driving range.
California then beckoned the eventual father of four. He left Omaha in 1957 to be head pro at California Country Club in Whittier and won the 1958 California Open before rejoining the PGA Tour for the 1959 and 1960 seasons. He was 10th in the 1959 U.S. Open, which earned him an invitation to the 1960 Masters. Knight returned to Omaha in the 1970’s for business reasons. He passed away in 1991 in California.
CLASS OF 2004
JIM WHITE (LINCOLN)
Jim White’s playing record in the Nebraska PGA is almost beyond compare. Player of the year 19 times. Section champion 10 times. Not to mention the former PGA Tour member has played three times in the U.S. Open, seven times in the PGA Championship and 21 times in the PGA Club Professional championship.
He also is a noted instructor and course designer. Among his works is Wilderness Ridge, a collaboration with Lincoln’s Grant Wencel.
Jim White was a two-sport standout at Hastings High School, an all-state basketball player and state champion golfer, who went on to Hastings College and took third place at the 1972 NAIA national tournament to garner All-America honors. His career includes being head professional or director of golf at Oakland Golf Club (1974 to 1976), Lakeshore Country Club in Council Bluffs (1980 to 1984) and Wilderness Ridge.
He has been the Nebraska PGA’s teacher of the year four times, its Senior Champion three times and its match-play champion three times. He has played in three PGA Senior Championships and two U.S. Senior Opens. He founded the Nebraska Golf Academy in 2002 and co-patented Precision Fit club-fitting system with Greg Johannesen in 2004.
A past president of the Nebraska PGA, Jim was its Professional of the year in 1998.
LARRY SOCK (LINCOLN)
Larry Sock’s six men’s state championships are the most among active golfers and he was the first to receive the Nebraska Golf Association’s outstanding amateur of the year award five times.
Born in Columbus, NE., Larry was a state champion at Norfolk Catholic. He graduated in 1978 from the University of Nebraska lettering in golf that year. The first of his Nebraska State titles was the 1977 match-play championship at Omaha Country Club. He’s won three Nebraska Amateurs, most recently in 1993 at his home course, Firethorn. He also has won three state match-play crowns as well as two Arizona stroke-play state titles.
He was the NGA’s outstanding golfer in 1977, 1985, 1988, 1990, and 1993. He won city championships in Lincoln and Tuscon, qualified three times for the U.S. Mid-Amateur and won the amateur division of the Nebraska Open twice. He’s been a fixture on the Nebraska Cup team.
Since 1994, Larry has served on the NGA board and was the president in 1998 and 1999.
BOB SCHUCHART (LINCOLN)
Bob Schuchart, who follows his father, the late Bill Schuchart, into the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame, has been a member of the Nebraska PGA for over 50 years. He retired in 1995 after 26 years as the head golf professional at Holmes Park Golf Course in Lincoln.
Robert W. Schuchart, an Omaha native, after high school joined Bill Schuchart in the Happy Hollow Club pro shop for 15 years, the last 12 as an assistant pro. in 1996, he moved to Hillcrest Country Club in Lincoln to work for another Nebraska Golf Hall of Famer Bunny Richards for the next three years.
His Lincoln home, however, would be Holmes Park Golf Course. During his long tenure there, he served two terms as Nebraska PGA president, was on the inaugural board for the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame, established the Nebraska PGA office in its present form and was honored with the Nebraska Section’s Horton Smith Award in 1982 and its Professional of the Year Award in 1985. While he was Nebraska PGA President, the PGA of America honored the Nebraska section three consecutive years as the best section in the nation.
A tireless promoter and teacher, his pupils included Dan Bahensky, Mike Lee, Scott Brunzell and of course, his son, Mike, a former pro golfer who’s now a teaching pro and assistant women’s golf coach at the University of Nebraska. Bob’s playing credentials include qualifying for the PGA Club Professional Championship and runner-up finishes in the Nebraska PGA Assistants Championship, the Nebraska PGA section championship and the section’s pro-assistant championship.
CLASS OF 2005
TOM SIECKMANN (OMAHA)
A playoff victory at the 1988 Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic topped a 10-year PGA Tour career for Tom Sieckmann, who at the same time was signing one of Omaha’s top private golf clubs and hosting Mutual of Omaha’s Nebraska Pro-Am.
Born in York, NE., Tom grew up in Omaha and was a state junior champion. He won the Nebraska Amateur and match-play tournaments in 1974, earning Nebraska Amateur of the Year honors, and won a second award in 1976. He started his college career at Nebraska, then transferred to Oklahoma State.
His professional career took him overseas, where he won the 1981 Phillipines, Thailand, and Brazilian Opens, the 1982 Rolex Open and the 1984 Singapore Open. He played full-time on the PGA Tour from 1985 to 1994, making 168 of 313 cuts and winning more than $1.3 million. His playoff victory at the Anheuser-Busch, on the second extra hole against Mark Wiebe, garnered a spot in the 1989 Masters. He returned to the Masters in 1991 after tying for eighth at the 1990 U.S. Open at Medinah. He played in nine U.S. Opens and two PGA Championships.
Tom hosted the Mutual of Omaha pro-am, a one-day charity event from 1989 to 1993. In 1994, his Shadow Ridge Golf Club in west Omaha opened.
DON SPOMER (FREMONT)
The Lincoln native won the state high school championship in 1944 and 1945 as a Lincoln High student before lettering three years at the University of Nebraska. He was still in college when he defeated Stan Stroh of Lincoln 2&1 in the 1949 Nebraska Amateur final at Hillcrest Country Club in Lincoln.
After graduation, he was head professional in 1951 and 1952 at Fremont Golf Club and played in the 1951 PGA Tour’s winter events. He later regained his amateur status and was president of the Fremont Golf Club in 1972 and an NGA board member in the 1970’s. Since 1976, he has been a businessman in Estes Park, CO.
MERLE BACKLUND (GRAND ISLAND)
Merle Backlund was a standout college golfer who later was the head professional at Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island from 1963 to 1970.
A 1949 graduate of Lincoln High, where he was a football and basketball player but couldn’t make the Links’ lineup in golf, Merle blossomed as a golfer at the University of Colorado. He was the medalist at the 1953 NCAA Championship and captained the Buffaloes team for three years. While an amateur, he was runner-up in the first Nebraska Amateur held in stroke play (1956) and in the 1957 Colorado Amateur and was the winner of the 1958 Wyoming Open.
After turning professional in 1959, he played in some PGA Tour events and was the head professional at courses in Casper, WY., Chilicother, IL., and Peoria, IL., before returning to his home state in 1963 to Riverside as that club was completing its expansion to an 18-hole facility. He was the Nebraska PGA section champion four times: 1966, 1968, 1969 and 1971. He played in six PGA Championships and five PGA Club Professional Championships.
Merle was an active member of Lochland Country Club in Hastings and helped with Wood River and Aurora Country Clubs before his death in 1976.
CLASS OF 2006
JOHN SAJEVIC (FREMONT)
John Sajevic is a three-time state champion who has played in the U.S. Amateur and Mid-Amateur championships and serves on the Nebraska Golf Association board.
A three-time NAIA District 11 champion at Kearney State before graduation in 1978, he swept the 1989 state titles. His first match-play championship came on his home course, Fremont Golf Club, where he defeated Mike Rack 1 up. He then won the Nebraska Amateur at Lochland Country Club in Hastings by one shot over Craig Moyer.
John picked up his second match-play title in 1996 by defeating Ryan Nietfeldt 4&3 at Highland Country Club in Omaha. He has played twice in the Sunnehanna Invitational reserved for the state champions and other top amateurs and has won eight Fremont Invitational titles, four Michelob amateurs, three Indian Creek Amateurs and 10 club championships.
He is a past president of the Fremont Golf Club and is in his fifth session on the NGA board.
BEATRICE “BEA” ROHMAN (LINCOLN)
Beatrice (Bea) Rohman was a two-time Nebraska women’s champion who was an active member of the USGA Junior Girls Committee and the Trans-Mississippi board of directors.
A lifelong Nebraskan who was a member of the Country Club of Lincoln, she won her first state title on the final hole in a downpour at Happy Hollow in Omaha against Ruth Moore of York. Be a was a runner-up the next year, then regained the title in 1934 with a 4&2 victory over Mrs. C.R. Bangh of Omaha at the Shrine Club in Lincoln. She was medalist in the 1935 qualifying but withdrew from match play because of illness.
She served from 1955 to 1967 on the USGA Junior Girls Committee and from 1950 to 1968 on the Trans board, mostly as corresponding secretary. Her involvement with the Trans committee began when her club held the 1949 tournament. She taught junior golf at the Country Club during World War II when there was no pro at the club.
Bea Rohman passed away at age 89 in 1983.
MIKE HUGHETT (LINCOLN)
Mike Hughett is a two-time Nebraska amateur of the year who has won three Oklahoma amateur of the year awards since moving to the Tulsa area.
While a junior golfer, Mike won the Lincoln junior championship and played in the U.S. Junior Amateur at 15 and won the Class A state title and the Lincoln men’s city title at 17. After his freshman year of college, he defeated Larry Sock in a playoff for the Nebraska Amateur after losing to Sock in the state match-play finals. They shared amateur of the year honors. Mike also qualified that year for the U.S. Amateur.
Mike started his college golf career at Oral Roberts and finished at Nebraska, lettering there in 1981. That year, he beat his brother Bryan in the state match-play final and was amateur of the year a second time before moving to Oklahoma.
In the Sooner State, he was amateur of the year in 1992, 2000, and 2001. He won the 1986 and 2000 state stroke-play titles and the 2001 Oklahoma Amateur and made the match-play bracket in four of the nine times he qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur.
GARY GRUENEMEIER (LINCOLN)
Gary Gruenemeier enjoyed success as a junior, amateur and pro golfer, including a professional victory in the 1967 K-2 Buick Pro-Am in Casper, WY.
A 1956 qualifier for the U.S. Junior Amateur, Gruenemeier played on championship teams at Lincoln High. He attended the University of Nebraska, then became a club pro in 1963 at Oakland, NE. Two years later, he moved to the York Country Club. In 1967, he played in six regional pro events and finished no worse than ninth. He left the golf business in 1968, starting an insurance agency, and regained his amateur status.
He won the Tournament of Champions in Grand Island in 1976, 15 years after winning the first tournament at Riverside Golf Club. His list of amateur titles includes two Lincoln City Championships and two Lincoln publics championships.
Gruenemeier passed away due to heart failure at age 54 in 1993.
CLASS OF 2007
FRANCES SEMPEK (OMAHA)
Frances (Galos) Sempek was the winner of the first two Greater Omaha Women’s Golf Association’s city titles and lost a third by one shot to Nebraska Golf Hall of Famer Lucille Mann.
Frances’ golf career started in 1937 when her employer Alonso Arnold, took her to a driving range and she discovered that she was a natural for the game. After playing for only six years, she set the record for the Field CLub’s old course with a 79 in 1943. The same year, she went to the Trans-Mississippi and Women’s Western Amateurs.
Her breakthrough came in 1948 when she won the first Omaha city tournament by beatins Joan Martig. The next year, it was Betty Wranic she beat in the finals. She chose not to defend her title in 1950 because she was expecting her first child. After her runner-up finish, four more children in the next seven years clinched her career as a mother and wife, a role she pursued with equal intensity.
ELMER MCKINNEY (KEARNEY)
Elmer McKinney was the only winner of the Nebraska Amateur and the state sand-greens championship and later was a six-time U.S. Amateur qualifier who reached the semifinals. His first home course was Grandview in Kearney, nine holes and sand greens, where he was hired part-time for security detail. It gave him opportunity to practice. As a Kearney State college student, he and Harold Bacon organized the Antelopes’ first men’s golf team and he won team and individual titles in the Rock Mountain Conference.
His Nebraska Amateur title came in 1939 on the sand greens of Beatrice Country Club. He was Albuquerque city champion and won the New Mexico Amateur while in the U.S. Army Air Force. He captained the Air Force golf team, the “Flying Kellys,” that played exhibitions around the country.
Elmer was a 1948 graduate of Texas Tech, where he was captain of the golf team and won the Border Conference championship. Owner of an insurance agency in Lubbock, he served six years as Director in the West Texas-New Mexico Senior Golf Association, winning the association championship in 1977 and 1981. He served on the USGA’s national committee for junior golf. Elmer McKinney passed away in February of 2001.
PETE GODWIN (OMAHA)
Paul (Pete) Godwin of Omaha was inducted into the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame as a part of the 2007 Class. A four-year letterman at the University of Missouri in Columbia, he recorded a top-10 finish in the 1977 Big 8 Championship along with collecting the team’s player of the year award. He was also co-captain of the team for the 1978-1979 season.
His accomplishments as a player are numerous, but a few moments stand out. Pete amassed an incredible 16 appearances in the Nebraska Cup matches which annually pit the best amateurs vs club professionals. He won the Nebraska State Match Play title twice (1995 and 2001), and also qualified for and participated in many USGA National Championships.
CLASS OF 2008
KNOX JONES (LINCOLN)
Knox Jones of Lincoln was inducted into the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame as a member of the 2008 class. Knox attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he was a four-year letter winner in golf and appeared in the NCAA Tournament all four years. He also collected All American Honorable Mention in his time at Nebraska.
In his outstanding amateur career, Knox won 3 Lincoln City titles, 1 Nebraska Junior Amateur Title, 1 Nebraska Amateur Title, 3 Nebraska Match Play Titles, and 2 Nebraska Four-Ball Titles.
Other: Knox was a “Fairway Club” board member from 1985-2002. He was also the assistant professional at The Knolls C.C. in Lincoln and collected Assistant Player of the Year honors in 1984.
DAVID CLOUSE (FRIEND)
David (Dave) Clouse of Friend, NE has contributed in many ways to Nebraska Golf, and was inducted into the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame as a part of the class of 2008.
Dave played collegiately at Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln from 1980-1983. During the 1983 season, he placed 11th at the National Tournament and gained All-American honors as well as Academic All-American honors.
In his amateur career, Dave has amassed many victories including most notably his 3 victories at the Nebraska Open (1995,1996,1999), his victory at the 1991 Nebraska Match Play, his 2 victories in the Nebraska Amateur (1999 and 2014), and his victory at the 1999 State Mid-Amateur Championship.
He has participated in 5 U.S. Mid Amateurs, 3 USGA State Team competitions, and the 1990 U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills in Colorado. He is a 2-time finalist at the Trans-Miss National Amateur, and in 1993, placed tied for 11th with Tiger Woods at the Sunnehanna Amateur.
DICK BOLIN (GERING)
Richard (Dick) Bolin of Gering, NE, was inducted into the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame as a part of the 2008 class. Dick had many nomination letters from prominent figures in the state and his playing record and dominance in Western Nebraska and Eastern Wyoming speaks for itself.
Noteworthy performances include victories at the State Seniors Championship in 2000 at Lochland Country Club in Hastings. Dick, a prominent member at Scottsbluff Country Club, recorded numerous victories at the club including the 1980, 1981 and 1982 Club Championships. He also won the 1976 “Oregon Trail” tournament held annually at Scottsbluff Country Club.
Dick also has held or currently holds positions with: The Western Nebraska Amateur Golf Association, The Nebraska State Amateur Association, The Nebraska State Seniors Association, and the Western Nebraska Seniors Association.
CLASS OF 2010
CATHY CURRY (COLUMBUS)
Cathy Curry, a member of the 2010 Nebraska Hall of Fame class, has an accomplished executive career in research, management, marketing and sales, as well as a great player resumé. As four-year letter winner for the Arizona State Women’s Golf team, Cathy won the 1982 Pac 10 Individual championship. In her Nebraska Playing career, Cathy won 4 Nebraska State Women’s Golf Championships between 1977-1982. She was also an accomplished Junior player winning 4 Nebraska State Junior Titles between 1974-1977.
In her executive career, Cathy coordinated and helped conduct many high level amateur and professional tournaments including: The Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf from 1994-1998 as Event Manager, The Thunderbird International Junior from 2000-2001 as Event Manager, The Detour / The Celebrity from 1997-2001 as Director of Operations, The Scottsdale Swing in 2001 as Director of Operations, The Tommy Bahama Challenge from 2004-2005 as Director of Operations, and various other executive roles.
MIKE SCHUCHART (LINCOLN)
Mike Schuchart, a member of the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame’s 2010 class, is well known throughout the state and surrounding areas as not only a great player, but an even better instructor and contributor to the game. As a junior, Mike won the Lincoln Boy’s City Championship and Nebraska Boy’s State Championship along with the State High School Championship.
Continuing his Amateur career in College as a 4-year letter winner for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Men’s Golf team, Mike was an All Big 8 Selection. He has qualified for the U.S. Open Championship 3 times and the PGA Championship 4 times. Mike has won the Nebraska Open 3 times, the Nebraska Section of the PGA Championship 7 times, and has won Nebraska Section of the PGA Player of the Year honors 7 times as well. Most impressively, Schuchart has 3 professional wins on the Web.com Tour including the Panama City Classic, Nike Tour Championship, and Ozarks Open.
As a teacher, Mike has worked with some of the best players in the state, most notably Scott Gutschewski (Web.com Tour and PGA Tour Winner). Mike is the Director of Instruction at Wilderness Ridge in Lincoln.
CLASS OF 2012
ALEXANDER H. FINDLAY (OMAHA)
Alexander Findlay, the “Father of American Golf,” laid out the first golf course in Nebraska – one of the first in the United States – in 1887, and a decade later he helped form Omaha’s first golf club and laid out its course.
The Scotsman, who in 1886 was credited as the first golfer to shoot 72, came to America shortly thereafter to study farming and ranching and made his way to Nebraska by rail. On April 4, 1887, he and a friend played a round on a six-hole course he laid out on the Merchiston Ranch near Fullerton. It was one of the first rounds of golf played in America – if not the first. The course was used through 1889.
He went west in the 1890’s, to U.S. Cavalry outposts at Cheyenne and Laramie, WY., and to Denver. When he found less interest in golf than polo, he returned to Omaha and sold sporting goods. He laid out a nine-hole course to replace the rudimentary course on the Patrick estate known as Happy Hollow – now the browns of Browned-Talbot School – and the Omaha Golf Club was founded in 1897. “I found a few nice places in Omaha and played a few shots in fields there,” Findlay said. “When through with ranch life, I settled in Omaha for a few years and talked to many, and finally got them going (in golf).” He is credited with building more than 100 courses in 21 states as far west as Montana. He was a promoter of the game nationally and a top amateur who was the 1902 Mexico Open Champion. He was appointed to the USGA Museum Committee in 1941, a year before his death.
CATHY NELSON (OMAHA)
Cathy Nelson, a member of the 2012 Hall of Fame class, has quite the civic resume to back up her playing accomplishments. Cathy was a board member for the UNO Women’s golf team from 2004-2006, a volunteer at the 1992 PGA Championship at Bellerive in St. Louis, a Tournament Co-Chair for the Missouri State Women’s State Stroke Play, and a Tournament Co-Chair for the Dean Witter ACS Charity Golf Classic in St. Louis.
In her playing career, Cathy was an accomplished High School Player winning the 1979 Class A Individual title for Millard High School. She was also a member of the 1978 Millard High School Girls Class A State Championship team. She won the 1981 and 1984 NWAGA State Match Play Tournament, was a decorated member of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Women’s golf team garnering 3-time All-Big Eight honors and lettering all 4 years. In 1991, she also won the Missouri Women’s State Stroke Play at Lake Forest Country Club.
RALPH “BUD” WILLIAMSON JR. (LINCOLN)
Bud Williamson Jr. was a member of the PGA of America for 46 years, until his death in December of 2011. He was an active member of the Midwest PGA Section and national PGA administration.
Born in Fort Wayne, IN., he grew up in Lincoln while his father, Nebraska Golf Hall of Famer Bud Williamson Sr., was head professional at the Country Club of Lincoln. He was the 1957 Class A high school golf champion and state high school sand greens champion as a Lincoln High junior and lettered in golf at the University of Nebraska in 1961 and 1962 before turning professional.
After being elected to PGA membership in 1965, he spent two years as a teaching pro in Lake Forest, IL., before returning to Nebraska as head professional at Lochland Country Club in Hastings from 1967 through 1975. In 1976, he became head pro at Blue Hills Country Club in Kansas City, MO., and retired as its director of golf in 2001. He was a past president of the Midwest Section and served as District 7 Director of the PGA national board.
As a teacher, Bud’s pupils included Tom Watson. Bud traveled with Watson to several British Opens, U.S. Senior Opens, Masters and many PGA Tour events. They created the “Clubs for Kids,” program in the Kansas City area that is said to have inspired The First Tee. He officiated at two Ryder Cups.
He played in one U.S. Senior Open, six Senior PGA Championships, four Champions Tour events and a dozen PGA Club Professional championships. He was enshrined into the Midwest Section PGA Hall of Fame in December in 2011.
CLASS OF 2014
JERRY FISHER (LINCOLN)
Gerald L. (Jerry) Fisher is a life member of the PGA of America who was head professional at the Country Club of Lincoln and the head women’s golf coach at the University of Nebraska.
Born in Odell, NE., he graduated from St. Joseph High School in Beatrice in 1962 and from Hastings College in 1966. He returned from military service to be head pro at Meadowbrook in Hastings in 1969. In 1970 he joined the Country Club of Lincoln as an assistant professional and was its head professional from 1972 to 1990. He was the Nebraska PGA’s professional of the year in 1977 as its president from 1976-77.
In the early 1990’s, he built Crooked Creek Golf Club in Lincoln. He was its General Manager and director of golf from 1995 to 2000.
At Nebraska, he coached the Husker women from 1976 to 1985. They were Big Eight champions in 1983. At the Country Club of Lincoln, he mentored the likes of Nebraska Golf Hall of Famers Jim White and Charlie Borner and hosted numerous USGA qualifiers and state tournaments.
Jerry’s playing career included qualifying for the 1973 PGA Championship. He was Nebraska PGA champion in 1972 after winning the state assistants championship the year before. He won the Nebraska PGA match-play championship in 1984.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA (LAUREL)
Mark Calcavecchia has been the most successful Nebraska born golfer on the PGA Tour, winning 13 tournaments including the 1989 Open Championship, and has won twice on the Champions Tour.
The Laurel native was born to Jorn and Marjorie Calcavecchia. John Calcavecchia, an insurance agent who was manager of the town’s bowling center, joined others in building Cedar View Country Club so they wouldn’t have to travel 15 miles to Wayne to play golf. Mark started playing when he was 8 and he was playing 36 to 45 holes a day at Cedar View before the family moved to Florida because of his father’s health.
Mark’s amateur career began by winning the Florida Junior and Orange Bowl Junior titles. He lettered from 1978 to 1980 at the University of Florida, where he was All-SEC in 1980. He turned pro in 1981 and made the PGA Tour in 1982, winning for the first time in 1986. In 1989 he defeated Australians Wayne Grady and Greg Norman in the four-hole aggregate playoff at the Open Championship.
He has played for the United States in four Ryder Cups and one Presidents Cup. He has won more than $30 million on the PGA and Champions Tours. His favorite course is Sand Hills.
CLASS OF 2016
JAMES SIECKMANN (OMAHA)
James operates the Shadow Ridge Golf Academy and has been the country club’s director of instruction since it opened in 1994.
A graduate of Millard South and the University of Nebraska, Sieckmann lettered four years in golf at NU. He won the 1988 Nebraska men’s match-play title and shortly thereafter turned professional.
He played tours worldwide, including in Asia and South America, before teaching at golf schools in Florida prior to returning to Omaha.
James is included on Golf Magazine’s and Golf Digest’s lists of the nation’s top golf teachers and is an eight-time Nebraska PGA teacher of the year. He currently is working with 18 professionals on the PGA, Web.com and LPGA tours. More than 80 pros have sought his advice over the years.
He co-founded and developed The Speed Stick training aid. He has written two instructional books.
WILLIAM W. “SKIP” GIST (OMAHA)
Skip Gist is an Omaha dentist who was the first Nebraskan to serve on the USGA Executive Committee in 85 years and was a USGA vice president in 2015.
A graduate of Lincoln Southeast and the University of Nebraska, he received his DDS from the University of Nebraska College of Dentistry. He was a member of the Nebraska Golf Association’s board of directors from 1996 to 2006 and served as its president from 2002 to 2004. He is a current member of both the NGA’s Past Presidents and Junior Committees and has been an active rules official at numerous NGA competition.
With the USGA, he was elected to its Executive Committee in 2011 and served as a vice president in 2015 – the highest office ever for a Nebraskan. He has been a member of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship Committee and has served as a rules official at various USGA championships, including the U.S. Senior Open, and collegiate events such as the Big 12 Championship and the NCAA Men’s Regional Championship.
Gist won the Nebraska Mid-Amateur Championship in 2000 and is an eight-time club champion winning titles at Platteview Country Club in Bellevue, Champions Run in Omaha and his current home course, and Firethorn Golf Club in Lincoln.
THOMAS L. WEEKES (SOUTH SIOUX CITY)
Tom Weekes has been a PGA professional since 1959. He was the PGA of America’s second Master Professional and a past president of the Nebraska PGA.
A native of Nebraska City, he graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1954. Among his early job as a teaching pro was at a driving range at Irvington in northwest Omaha. He and wife Ruth bought at the South Ridge Golf Course in South Sioux City in 1959 and operated it together until selling it in 1996.
Tom was the Nebraska PGA president in 1974 and 1975 after serving as its secretary and was the section’s professional of the year in 1975. He won the Nebraska PGA Senior Championship in 1982 and 1983 and played in the National Cup pro championship.
In retirement he developed a talent for art, enjoying painting wildlife, landscapes, and still life.
CLASS OF 2018
MIKE RACK (LINCOLN)
Mike Rack is a University of Nebraska graduate who won the Nebraska Amateur in 1987 and 1990 and was the Nebraska Golf Association’s Amateur of the year in 1991.
A 1984 graduate of Lincoln East who played on a state championship team, Mike walked on at Nebraska and was put on scholarship after his sophomore year. He lettered four years and was Academic All-Big Eight his final two seasons.
His Nebraska Amateurs were won at Hillcrest, his home course, in 1987 and at Oak Hills in Omaha in 1990. In 1986 and 1898, he made the finals of the Nebraska match play championship. He played in the U.S. Amateur in 1991 – the year he also won the Michelob and the Governor’s Cup and tied for second at the Nebraska Amateur to capture player of the year honors – and won three Lincoln city titles (1987, 1989, and 1992).
Now a dentist living in Lawrence, Kansas, he was runner-up in the 2018 Kansas Senior Amateur.
SARAH SASSE-KILDOW (LINCOLN)
Sarah Sasse-Kildow is a University of Nebraska graduate who was the 2003 Big 12 Conference golfer of the year and the first Husker women’s golfer to earn first-team All-America honors.
In junior competition, Sarah was the state’s girls match-play champion in 1993, 1995, and 1996 and the first to claim back to back Class A high school state titles in 36-hole tournaments. She was still a Lincoln High student when she won the first of five Nebraska Women’s Amateur titles in six years (1997, 1999-2002).
At NU, her senior year included the 2003 Big 12 Championship and three other wins. She was a Scholastic All-American while making the All-Big 12 team for the third time and the conference’s academic team for the fourth time.
She played in three NCAA Championships and qualified for four U.S. Women’s Amateurs before turning professional.
Sarah was a member of the women’s Futures Tour from 2004 to 2006. In 2005, she appeared on the Golf Channel’s “Big Break III” series. Her win in the 2007 Nebraska Section PGA Assistant Championship was the first by a female.
She is enshrined in the NU Athletics, Nebraska High School Sports and Lincoln High halls of fame.
RICHARD SKINNER (NORTH PLATTE)
Richard Skinner is the owner, developer and PGA Professional at Indian Meadows Golf Club in North Platte. He has been nationally recognized for designing and fitting golf clubs and honored as the Nebraska Section PGA’s teacher of the year.
Among the pro golfers who have been his students is his daughter, Val, a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour who entered the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame in 2002.
Richard came to Nebraska as head professional at North Platte Country Club in 1969, after starting as an assistant in Smithfield, Utah, and service for three years as head professional at Monpelier (Idaho) Golf Club.
While at North Platte Country Club, he advanced to Class A status in the PGA of America in 1971, was named one of the nation’s top 12 club-fitters by Golf Shop Operations magazine in 1987 and was honored as the state’s teacher of the year in 1988.
In 1991, he purchased the Willow Greens nine-hole course south of the city and renamed it Indian Meadows, which he still owns and operates with wife Sharon.
CLASS OF 2021
ELIZABETH BAHENSKY-SCHOTT (Kearney)
Elizabeth Bahensky-Schott is a five-time Nebraska women’s state champion who had a distinguished playing career at the University of Nebraska. Her tie for 25th at the 2000 NCAA Division I Championship remains the best finish by a Husker women’s golfer.
Her playing career began at Kearney High with two Class A state titles and the all-class champion in 1995. At Nebraska, she was a four-year starter who had nine career top-10 finishes and was three-time Academic All Big 12 and twice made the conference’s all-tournament team. The Huskers’ 2000 team was the first in school history to advance to nationals.
Her state women’s championships have been match play titles in 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2012. She was the 1999 Nebraska Women’s Amateur Champion on her home course, Kearney Country Club.
She joins her father, 2002 inductee Dan Bahensky, in the Hall of Fame. They are the second set of father daughter inductees, following Richard (2018) and Val (2002) Skinner of North Platte.
STEPHANIE KOLBAS (Lincoln)
Stephanie Kolbas is a three-time state women’s champion who qualified for the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open. From Kitchener, Ontario, the former Steph Flood burst onto the Nebraska golf scene by taking fifth at the 1991 Big Eight Championship and making the all-conference team.
She won the Husker Classic in 1992. She was Academic All-Big Eight and Scholastic All-America three times each and the two-time winner of the True Temper Scholastic Award before graduation from Nebraska. She’s won a record-setting 18 Lincoln city women’s titles and was the Nebraska Women’s Match Play Champion in 1998 and the Nebraska Women’s Amateur winner in 2005 and 2007.
She has represented Nebraska in three U.S. Women’s State Team Championships, two College Alumni Team Championships and qualified for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.
The longtime golf coach at Lincoln Pius X was honored by the Nebraska Coaches Association in 2002. She also has developed the state’s U.S. Kids Golf program.
LARRY ROMJUE (Lincoln)
Larry Romjue coached men’s and women’s teams during a 31-year career at the University of Nebraska. His 1976 women’s team was Big Eight champion. Four of his men’s teams qualified for NCAA Championships, with a 14th-place finish in 1999 their best.
A native of Marshalltown, Iowa, he graduated from Nebraska City High School and lettered from 1958 to 1960 in golf at NU. He coached the NU men from 1970 to 2001 and the Husker women from 1975, their first season, to 1979. He was the 1996 Big Eight Coach of the Year in men’s golf.
He won numerous amateur tournaments, including the 1969 and 1970 Lincoln city championship, and was named Nebraska Section PGA Professional Player of the Year in 1980 and Professional of the Year in 1984.
Larry Romjue passed away on April 16, 2019.
MATT TABER (Lincoln)
Matt Taber was the 1969 Nebraska men’s Match-Play Champion who became a successful golf course builder in the U.S. and Asia. His first splash in amateur golf was the 1958 Trans-Mississippi, when he lost to Jack Nicklaus in the quarterfinals.
Three years later, he was the Trans runner-up. In 1964, he teamed with future PGA Tour winner Jim Colbert to win the Heart of America Four-Ball. He was a three-time Lincoln city champion, a four-time winner of the Riverside Tournament of Champions in Grand Island and qualified for three U.S. Amateurs. He lost a playoff to Bob Astleford for the 1965 Nebraska Amateur.
He moved to Dallas in the 1970s as a golf apparel sales representative and later moved into course building. Matt Taber passed away November 26, 2017, in Malvern, Arkansas.
Dr. Herbert H. Davis & Herbert H. Davis Jr. Memorial Award
For years, Herb and John Davis wanted to establish an award in the memory of their father, Dr. Herbert H. Davis, who spent much of his life working to make golf better for everyone in Nebraska. They felt the recipient of such an award should also be an individual, or a group of people, who made such an effort behind the scenes without proper public recognition.
This, in 1988, the Dr. Herbert H. Davis Memorial Award was born. In 1991, the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame instituted a “Special Recognition Award” that had almost identical criteria for nominations. Realizing a great duplication of effort existed, the Davis family and the Hall of Fame board of directors combined the two awards.
In 2003, Herb Davis died while on a golf trip to one of his favorite courses, Sand Hills Golf Club. The Dr. Herbert H. Davis and Herbert H. Davis Jr. Award now is presented annually in their memory.
Those who have previously been honored as recipients of the Davis Memorial award and/or the Hall of Fame’s Special Recognition Award:
- Harold Glissman, Omaha
- Don Lee, Omaha
- *Del Ryder, Grand Island
- *Bob Popp, Omaha
- Orville Olson Jr., Omaha
- Mary Walley, Hastings
- Darrell Vonnahme, Omaha
- Kevin O’Connor, Omaha
- Bill Kubly, Lincoln
- Richard Youngscap, Lincoln
- Virgil Parker, Lincoln
- University of Nebraska Turfgrass Science Team
- Omaha World-Herald Sports Department
- Lou Feuerstein, Fremont
- Paul Kunzman, Alliance
- Steve Hogan, Omaha
- Ing Maurstad of Beatrice
- Family of Herbert H. Davis and Herbert H. Davis Jr., Omaha
- Richard Watson, Lincoln
- Jerry Treadway, Kearney
- Dottie Bowman, Kearney
- Carolyn Ryder, Grand Island
- Bobbie Hopp
- Laura Saf
- Stu Pospisil
- Bruce Gilliland
- Nebraska Golf Association
- Floyd “Andy” Anderson, Lincoln
* Also has been inducted into the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame.