West Des Moines’ Gene Elliott, 53, had another banner year in 2015. After finishing fourth a year ago, Elliott captured the 2015 IGA Player of the Year award by just over 320 points. Elliott was also IGA Player of the Year in 2002 and 2011.
Elliott’s year, which included several high finishes in Iowa, started in California at the first-ever U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Elliott, who teamed up with fellow-Iowan, Mike McCoy, qualified for the match play portion of the championship.
After finishing third in the Iowa Mid-Amateur, Elliott teamed up once again with McCoy to win the IGA Four-Ball Championship. Following a 5th place showing at the Carroll Amateur, Elliott posted victories at the Iowa Masters and IGA Match Play Championship.
A playoff loss (to McCoy) in the 113th Iowa Amateur would not derail Elliott’s summer, as he posted a 9th place finish at the Herman Sani Tournament and a 3rd place finish at the Briarwood Amateur before being medalist at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier held in Des Moines. He finished the year with 1735 points.
McCoy, 52, of Des Moines, an 11-time IGA Player of the Year winner himself, finished runner-up in the Player of the Year race with 1412.5 points.
McCoy claimed wins at the Coleman Invitational, IGA Four-Ball (with Elliott) and the 113th Iowa Amateur. The win at the Iowa Amateur was the sixth for McCoy, leaving him one behind all-time leader Art Bartlett. McCoy also teamed with Elliott at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, where they made the match play as previously mentioned.
Once again making things interesting, McCoy made a run in the U.S. Mid-Amateur to gain bonus points in hopes of catching his good friend in the points list. However, McCoy would be defeated in the Round of 16 and come up just short of winning his 12th IGA Player of the Year title.
Ankeny’s Jon Olson, 35, was the IGA Player of the Year in 2014 and had another outstanding season in 2015. He finished third in the final standings (1305 points) and counted wins at the Iowa Mid-Amateur, Briarwood Amateur and was low amateur at the Iowa Open. Olson also qualified for the U.S. Open Sectionals and was a U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier.
Mike McCoy, 52 of Des Moines, only needed four scoring events to secure his second IGA Senior Player of the Year award - but it was some big-time golf at some big-time events.
McCoy, who won the award in 2013, was low amateur (26th overall) at the 2015 U.S. Senior Open at Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, Calif. In addition to his stellar play at arguably the biggest major in senior golf, the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member posted impressive finishes against the younger crowd. He won the Iowa Amateur Championship in a playoff over Senior Player of the Year runner-up Gene Elliott, made match play at the inaugural USGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship (with Elliott as his partner), and advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
Elliott, 53, of West Des Moines, who finished 275 points behind McCoy (1700 to 1425), had an impressive year against all ages as well.
He won the IGA Match Play Championship and, as previously mentioned, lost in a playoff to McCoy at the Iowa Amateur Championship and partnered with McCoy to make match play at the USGA Amateur Four-Ball. He then ended the year by earning medalist honors at the USGA Mid-Amateur qualifier at Wakonda Club.
Elliott was no stranger to success on the senior side as well. He was a quarterfinalist at the IGA Senior Match Play and finished second to Joe Palmer at the Iowa Senior Amateur Championship.
Palmer, 53, of West Des Moines, won the IGA Senior Player of the Year award in 2014 and mounted a terrific defense in 2015. Ultimately he would finish third in the standings (1280 points) but he had a terrific year as he captured the “Senior Double”, winning the IGA Senior Match Play and the Iowa Senior Amateur. He also won the Fort Dodge Amateur (Senior Division) and, like the two that finished ahead of him, fared very well against the younger set. Palmer finished 4th at the Iowa Mid-Amateur and recorded a top-10 finish at the Iowa Amateur.
After narrowly missing his third straight IGA Junior Player of the Year award last year, Ottumwa’s Matt Walker left no doubt in 2015. He finished with 1827.75 points in the Junior Player of the Year standings, nearly 600 points ahead of second place finisher Conner Koberg (1249 points).
Walker, 18, started his year by winning the 2014 Iowa High School State Championship (Class 4A golf is played in the fall). He also posted runner-up finishes at the Midwest Junior Championship and AJGA Midwest Junior Players Championship and a third place finish at the Carroll Amateur. Walker recently began his freshman year at the University of Iowa.
Koberg, 18, of Cedar Rapids, notched wins at the Midwest Junior Championship at Finkbine in Iowa City and was runner-up at the Northwest Amateur held in Spencer. Koberg also qualified for the U.S. Amateur this past summer thru the qualifier held in Waterloo at Sunnyside CC. Koberg is now a freshman playing golf at Iowa State University.
The Players of the Year will be honored on Friday, November 20th at Hyperion Field Club. The public is invited to attend. The evening will begin with a cash bar and heavy appetizers at 6 p.m. The awards ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. and should last about an hour. The bar will remain open for about 30 minutes following the awards. If you wish to attend, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a $25 cost to attend.