MGA Announces Year-End Award Winners

October 21, 2022
By Warren P Ryan

EDINA, Minn. (Oct. 21, 2022) – The Minnesota Golf Association’s 122nd Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner will be held on Monday, Oct. 24 at the Edina Country Club. The evening’s highlights include recognition of the MGA Players of the Year (in six categories); the MGA Warren J. Rebholz Distinguished Service Award winner; the MGA Fritz Corrigan Evans Scholar of the Year; the MGA Member Club of the Year; and the MGA Giles Kobilka Award winner.  

“It’s that time of the season when the MGA acknowledges this year’s amateur champions, our accomplished players of the year and outstanding award winners. The annual awards dinner is the opportunity to recognize their outstanding performances and extend our appreciation to the many volunteers who staff our events,” says Mike Malone, MGA president. 

Malone, whose term as president ends at the conclusion of the evening program, says the association is focused on the future and furthering the development of the MGA Foundation,  whose aim is to make the game more sustainable, while continuing to deliver on the association’s non-profit mission of serving all golfers in Minnesota.

In this biennial year, the MGA introduces a new slate of officers led by incoming president, Ede Rice, of Edina, incoming vice president, Paul Meierant, also of Edina, and incoming secretary/treasurer, Jerry Rose, of Alexandria. 

MGA Players of the Year

Since 1975, the MGA has awarded player points for top finishes in MGA and allied association championships, as well as select regional, national and international events. Notable Minnesota golf champions who have achieved MGA Player of the Year honors include: John Harris, the 1993 U.S. Amateur champion, Hilary (Homeyer) Lunke, the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open champion, siblings Tim Herron and Alissa (Herron) Super, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour and the 1999 USGA Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, respectively, and Sammy Schmitz, who qualified for the 2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and won it in dramatic fashion, thanks, in part, to holing out a rare double-eagle (ace) on the par-4 33rd hole.  

The players listed in the following categories have earned the distinction, the 2022 MGA Player of the Year: 

MGA Senior Player of the Year, John Brellenthin (260 points). Brellenthin, 58, of Minnetonka, is a member of The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis. He birdied the second playoff hole to win the MGA Senior Four-Ball Championship with partner, and 2021 MGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year, Tim Peterson. He finished runner-up in the MGA Senior Players’ Championship where he played against fellow Minikahda Club member, Pat Smith, in the final match. Brellenthin finished in fourth place at the MGA Senior Amateur Championship, the tournament he won on his home course in 2021, and finished as the low senior in the Minnesota State Open. 

This is Brellenthin’s first MGA Senior Player of the Year honor, and his second title overall.

MGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year, Leigh Klasse (385 points). Klasse, 63, of Cumberland, Wis., is a member of the University Golf Club in Falcon Heights. She won the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Championship and finished runner-up in both the MGA Women’s Mid-Amateur and the MGA Women’s Senior Four-Ball championships, the latter with partner Lynn Anderson. Klasse was the senior division champion, with partner JT Johnson, at the MGA Mixed Amateur Team Championship, she reached the semi-final round of the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Match Play, and she also qualified for the match-play portion of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Anchorage Golf Course in Anchorage, Alaska. 

This is Klasse’s 11th MGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year honor, and her 15th title overall.

MGA Women’s Player of the Year, Taylor Ledwein (510 points). Ledwein, 25, of New Prague, is a member of New Prague Golf Club. She earned two first-place finishes this year, carding a 3-under-par 68 and the low round of the championship at the MGA Women’s Amateur at Rochester G&CC; and she defeated Leah Skaar on the 18th hole to claim the MGA Women’s Match Play Championship at Burl Oaks GC. Ledwein qualified for the match-play portion of the U.S. Women’s Amateur and advanced to the round of 32 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash. She also qualified with partner Megan Welch for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball for the second consecutive year. 

This is Ledwein’s second MGA Women’s Player of the Year honor. 

MGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year, Sam Udovich (200 points). Udovich, 15, of Inver Grove Heights, is a member of Southview Country Club in St. Paul. He won the individual title at the MSHSL Class AA Boys’ State Tournament at Ridges of Sand Creek in Jordan. Udovich finished tied for ninth place at the MGA Amateur Championship at Olympic Hills GC in Eden Prairie, and qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore. 

This is Udovich’s first MGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year honor.  

MGA Player of the Year, Caleb VanArragon (495 points). VanArragon, 21, of Blaine, is a member of Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids. He missed finishing in first place twice this season, and by the same margin – 1 stroke, at the Minnesota State Open, where he earned low-amateur honors, and at the MPGA Public Links Championship. VanArragon reached the semi-final round at the MGA Players’ Championship, before losing to Ryan Conn, 1 down, at Burl Oaks GC, and he tied for 13th place at the MGA Amateur Championship at Olympic Hills GC in Eden Prairie.

This is VanArragons’s first MGA Player of the Year honor, and his second title overall. 

MGA Junior Girls’ Player of the Year, Kathryn VanArragon (440 points). VanArragon, 17, of Blaine, is a member of Minnesota Youth on Couse. She won the MSHSL Class AAA Girls’ State Tournament individual title for a second time at Bunker Hills, while tying the tournament record-low score of 9-under par. VanArragon also won the Minnesota Girls’ Junior PGA Championship, her second consecutive win in this event, and she earned two second-place finishes at the MGA Women’s Amateur Championship and the Minnesota Women’s State Open, hosted by Rochester G&CC and Rush Creek GC, respectively.

This is VanArragon’s third MGA Junior Girls’ Player of the Year honor. 

A complete list of player points can be found at mngolf.org/playerpoints.

Warren J. Rebholz Distinguished Service Award

The “Rebbie” award was established in 1994 to honor individuals who, through their actions, have exemplified the spirit of the game of golf at its highest level and who have made a substantial contribution to the game in Minnesota or on a national or international level.

Cheryl B. Schneider is the 2022 MGA Warren J. Rebholz Distinguished Service Award winner. Neither the numerous caddie-scholar graduates of the University of Minnesota Evans Scholars chapter house, nor the members, guests and tournament spectators who have walked the grounds of Hazeltine National Golf Club (HNGC) would be surprised by the MGA bestowing her with its highest service honor, the Warren J. Rebholz Distinguished Service Award.  

As chair of HNGC’s Equal Access committee in the mid-1980s, Schneider was instrumental in enabling women membership status equal to their male counterparts. This not only expanded equity access for women at HNGC, but also positively impacted access for women at many golf clubs in the Twin Cities and beyond. Schneider would work diligently behind the scenes on every major golf tournament that visited HNGC, from the 1983 U.S. Senior Open to the 2016 Ryder Cup Matches. During that time, she would become the first female chair of HNGC’s golf committee and eventually the first woman elected president of the club in 1992-1993. 

Since 1991 when her time on the MGA Board of Directors expired, she has remained an active alumni director serving on the Centennial Gala Committee, on the Evans Scholar Committee, on the MGA Merger Committee (with the MWGA and MWPGA), and she has been a steadfast tournament volunteer to the present day. 

In 2003, Schneider was elected a director of the Western Golf Association whose Evans Scholars Program has been the beneficiary of her prodigious energy and can-do spirit. She has participated on the Evans Caddie Committee, served on the 1916-2016 Chick Evans Century Gala Committee, and continues to serve as general chair of the annual Chick Evans 7 Club Fundraiser (2004 to present). 

In the words of one of Schneider’s nominating recommendations, “she has been a volunteer for the game of golf” for nearly four decades, and truly embodies the spirit of the Warren J. Rebholz Distinguished Service Award. 
 
Additional Award Winners

Awards for the MGA Fritz Corrigan Evans Scholar of the Year, the MGA Member Club of the Year and the MGA Giles Kobilka Award will be announced during the evening program on Oct. 24. The awards program begins at 5:30 p.m. For more information, please contact Anne Colehour Mullen at the MGA office 952-345-3969.  

About Edina Country Club

Edina CC was designed by Tom Bendelow and opened in 1923, originally as the Thorpe Country Club. In 2010-11, the team of Tom Lehman and Chris Brands redesigned the course, installing new green complexes, bunkers, tees and fairway grasses but retaining essentially the same course layout. ECC has been an active supporter of amateur golf and the MGA since the facility first opened. In addition to hosting the MGA Amateur seven times since 1926, the club has hosted numerous MGA amateur competitions including four Mid-Amateur, two Senior Amateur, three Amateur Four-Ball, the Players’ (state match play) and Mixed Amateur Team championships. ECC has also hosted the MGA-PGA Cup Matches, the MGA Senior Tour plus numerous USGA amateur and open qualifiers.

About the MGA

Established in 1901, with the formation by seven golf clubs to organize the state’s most prestigious and storied golf championship, the MGA Amateur Championship, the Minnesota Golf Association is today the governing body over amateur golf in the state, responsible for administering the Rules of Golf, and committed to upholding and promoting the game of golf and its values for all golfers in Minnesota.
 
The MGA conducts 23 major amateur championships and 14 USGA qualifying events each year. Thanks to the support of its member clubs and associate members and the efforts of its volunteers and staff, the MGA provides a variety of services such as handicapping, course rating and measuring, an online golf news and information resource, www.mngolf.org, and an official publication, Minnesota Golfer magazine, which benefit all golfers throughout Minnesota.
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Warren P Ryan

W.P. Ryan is the MGA’s communications director and editor of Minnesota Golfer magazine. Prior to his communications career, he has worked at several golf clubs in Florida, Maryland and Minnesota "guarding the Titleists" and teaching the game to junior golfers. 

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