Joel Goldstrand, 1939-2022
November 23, 2022 | 3 min.
ByWarren P Ryan
Joel Goldstrand, 83, of Medina, Minn., passed away November 13 after an illness associated with Alzheimer’s. Born in North Branch and raised in Worthington, Goldstrand helped his high school golf team win the 1957 MSHSL Boys’ State Tournament. He was later recruited to play golf at the University of Houston, who’s men’s golf team would win three national championships during his time at the university. Houston may well have won a sixth consecutive title if not for Goldstrand, who in his senior year during the final round of the NCAA tournament, penalized himself for carrying a 15th club in his golf bag, an accident which would earn Houston an additional 16 strokes.*
In 1965, Goldstrand joined the PGA Tour and played for eight seasons before leaving the tour to be the golf professional at the Minneapolis Golf Club in 1973. During his tenure at MGC, Goldstrand conceived the Minnesota Golf Champions, an invitational styled after The Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga., in 1975. He would win the event three consecutive years, 1977-1979, in addition to two State Opens and two MN PGA Championships.
One of his career highlights included posting rounds of 76-76-71-72—295 to finish in a tie for 12th place at Hazeltine National GC and the 1970 U.S. Open. Out in the second group the first morning, Goldstrand’s round featured 14 pars and four bogies under extreme conditions.
“It was so windy that I had to back off from putts twice on the 16th green by the lake. I thought the wind was going to knock me over,” he was quoted in the Minneapolis Tribune the next day.
Forty-mile-an-hour-plus wind gusts and chilly temperatures made the course so difficult on Thursday that Goldstrand went back out to watch the field finish. In fact, 33 players would equal or better his opening 76, but only one would shoot under par that day, the eventual winner Tony Jacklin (71). The Big Three, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus, stumbled home with rounds of 79, 80 and 81, respectively.
Goldstrand was one of four locals to make the cut at the Open, which earned him a $2150 payday, an invitation to the 1971 Masters and an exemption into the 1971 U.S. Open.
He was among the first, if not the first player, to use Ping golf equipment on the professional tour. It was during this period that he developed a penchant for designing golf courses, which would become a fulltime occupation in 1989. A prolific architect, Goldstrand would design nearly 100 golf courses throughout his career.
During his induction into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame in 1998, Goldstrand said one of his proudest accomplishments was founding the original Bible Study Group on the PGA Tour, a fellowship of Christian golfers who continue to meet weekly during the season.
Among his favorite pastimes were studying theology, coaching, sports, and traveling with his wife, Solveig. Goldstrand is survived by his wife and three children, Lorna Lynn, Lee Edwin and Becky Louise, and eleven grandchildren. A service was held on November 22 at the Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie. Memorials may be made to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, http://curealz.org/outreach/in-memory/joel-goldstrand, or the Institute for Creation Research, http://www.icr.org/donate/.
* -- If you search YouTube.com for "Jack Nicklaus 1961 College Golf Story," you will see Jack talking to Joel Goldstrand and his son about the 1961 NCAA Championships, and Jack, who was the medalist that year, mentions the 16-stroke penalty. (Jack says "18 strokes," but it was 16.) Joel then explains that some of the Minnesota players were in his motel room after the first round, and they were passing around Joel's 1 iron. One of the Gophers (Butch Newby), not realizing that Joel hadn't used the 1-iron in the first round, put it back in the bag, which is why there were 15 clubs in the bag the next day. Joel didn't notice it until he was on the ninth tee. The resulting 16-stroke penalty (two strokes for each of the first eight holes) ended Houston's chances for a fifth consecutive NCAA team title -- and is believed to be the reason for the rule change that capped the penalty for an extra club at a maximum of 4 strokes.