BVU Lake Creek Named Iowa’s 18-Hole Course of the Year

Iowa Golf Association cites rise in participation, return of Lake Creek Amateur in honoring club.

The Iowa Golf Association has named Buena Vista University Golf Course at Lake Creek as the 18-Hole Iowa Golf Course of the Year for 2021.

Growth in tournament play, a return to corporate outings, an increase in junior golf participation, and the return of the Lake Creek Amateur in 2020 were factors cited by the Iowa Golf Association in bestowing the honor upon BVU Lake Creek, which soon celebrates its 50th anniversary season.

"For the past few years, we know BVU Lake Creek has had a mission to bring the golf course back–and surpass–how great it was in years gone by,” noted Iowa Golf Association CEO/Executive Director Chad Pitts. “We are thrilled to recognize those efforts with this award. It speaks to how much has been accomplished. We are certain there are many great years to come for the golf course and membership.”

“For 50 years, the people at BVU Lake Creek and throughout the region have known we’ve enjoyed a winning formula for golf. We’re so pleased the IGA has recognized our championship layout and the work that Superintendent Bob Leinbaugh and his staff have done to maintain and improve it.”

Mike Wilson, BVU Lake Creek Board President

BVU Lake Creek Director of Golf Operations Joe Powell worked to resurrect the Lake Creek Amateur in 2020 following a seven-year hiatus. The 2020 and 2021 events have combined to attract nearly 180 competitors back to a championship layout constructed on 151 acres in the early 1970s.

“It was so important to get the Lake Creek Amateur back for the world of competitive golf in this area of the state,” said Powell, who also serves as Head Coach for the men’s and women’s golf teams at BVU. “Just prior to being named the 18-Hole Iowa Golf Course of the Year, the Iowa Golf Association returned the Lake Creek Amateur to a ‘points-event status’ on the official IGA calendar, which will go a long way to ensuring even more participation in the future.”

Men’s golf team member Kaeden Howard chips to the No. 4 green at the BVU Golf Course at Lake Creek during a meet.
Men’s golf team member Kaden Howard chips to the No. 4 green at the BVU Golf Course at Lake Creek during a meet.

“Points-event” tournaments on the IGA calendar help determine the Iowa Amateur of the Year.

Additionally, BVU Lake Creek members devised the Security Bank Cup Challenge modeled after the FedEx Cup Challenge that culminates a season of competition on the PGA Tour. Members who play in BVU Lake Creek tournaments throughout the season earn points for participation as well as their finishes, allowing them the chance to vie for BVU Lake Creek Player of the Year honors and a $1,000 cash prize awarded by the club and Security Trust & Savings Bank of Storm Lake. The top 10 place-winners are also entered into a drawing for a weekend golf getaway for six, a prize valued at $2,000 sponsored by Security Trust & Savings Bank.

“The advent of the points race breathed life back into our tournament schedule,” said Steve Eddie, BVU Assistant Athletic Director and Board Member serving the golf course. “It has boosted interest in the course from local golfers who need one more ‘incentive’ as it were to join as a member.”

Tournament play went from 244 participants in 2019 to nearly 550 participants in 2021. The success of the Security Bank Cup Challenge is something that could be emulated by other courses across the state, Eddie noted.

Other highlights at BVU Lake Creek include:

  • Junior golf participation increased from 24 players in 2019 to 78 in 2021.
  • Play in corporate outings at the course jumped this year as several tournaments returned to action after having been sidelined in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A Legacy Fund was established by BVU Lake Creek at the close of the 2020 season, allowing for donations, estate gifts, and the like, to have a designated place in a fund overseen by three members who work independently of the BVU Lake Creek Board of Directors. The Legacy Fund, ultimately, is to serve as an endowment.
  • A partnership between BVU and Lake Creek forged in 2019 expanded as Powell, formerly Men’s Golf Coach at BVU, became coach for both the men’s and women’s teams in 2021 while transitioning into a Director of Golf Operations role at BVU Lake Creek. Assistant Coach Cory Grover took on a role as Business Operations Manager at BVU Lake Creek in addition to his coaching duties with the Beavers.

“For 50 years, the people at BVU Lake Creek and throughout the region have known we’ve enjoyed a winning formula for golf,” said BVU Lake Creek Board President Mike Wilson. “We’re so pleased the IGA has recognized our championship layout and the work that Superintendent Bob Leinbaugh and his staff have done to maintain and improve it. We’re also extremely grateful to BVU, to our members, and those within the community whose ideas become initiatives through hard work, collaboration, and a sincere desire to succeed for Storm Lake.

“It is fitting that BVU Lake Creek is honored as Iowa’s 18-Hole Golf Course of the Year on the eve of our 50th anniversary,” Wilson concluded. “The designation, while a great honor that will lead golfers to discover all that we have today, is also a testament to the many people who’ve worked so hard over the past five decades to present a championship layout that helps celebrate the quality of life we enjoy in this wonderful community.”

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