Minnesota Golf Association

MGA ANNOUNCES YEAR-END AWARD WINNERS

October 28, 2021


EDINA, Minn. (Oct. 28, 2021) – The Minnesota Golf Association’s 121st Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner will be held on Monday, Nov. 1 at the Oak Ridge Country Club in Hopkins. 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; two inductees into the MGA-PGA Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame; the MGA Member Club of the Year; and the MGA Giles Kobilka Award winner.  

“The MGA salutes this year’s amateur champions, players of the year and award winners. Our 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.

“In addition, this year we also recognize two deserving individuals for their induction into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame,” Malone adds.

                                              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 2021 MGA Player of the Year

MGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year, Betsy Aldrich (267.50 points). Aldrich, 55, of Minnetonka, is a member of Woodhill Country Club. She finished runner-up to Leigh Klasse at the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Championship, tied for second place (with partner Barb Miller), at the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship, made it to the  quarterfinals at the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Match Play Championship, and was co-champion (with partner Mark Knutson), of the senior division of the MGA Mixed Amateur Team Championship. Aldrich finished in 6th place at the MGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, and she was co-medalist during sectional qualifying for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship.
This is Aldrich’s second consecutive MGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year honor.
 
MGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year, Sam Baker (252.50 points). Baker, 18, of Cloquet, is a member of Cloquet Country Club. He needed a birdie on the final hole to win the individual title at the MSHSL Class AA Boys’ State Tournament and was instrumental in assisting his squad, the Cloquet Lumberjacks to the team championship. Baker reached the quarterfinals of the MGA Players’ Championship, tied for 3rd place at the Minnesota Junior PGA Boys’ Championship, tied for 8th place at the Minnesota State Junior Boys’ Championship, and qualified for the Minnesota State Open. He also qualified for the U.S. Junior Championship.
This is Baker’s first MGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year honor. 
 
MGA Women’s Player of the Year, Olivia Herrick (364.55 points). Herrick, 33, of Roseville, is a member of Dellwood Country Club, White Bear Yacht Club and Manitou Ridge Golf Club. Four birdies helped Herrick move up 12 spots on the leaderboard to finish in a tie for third place at the Minnesota Women’s State Open. She was runner-up at the MGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, tied for 5th place at the MGA Women’s Amateur Championship, and made it to the round of 16 at the MGA Women’s Amateur Match Play Championship. Herrick tied for 6th place at both the MGA Women’s Amateur Four-Ball (with partner Paige McCullough) and the MGA Mixed Amateur Team Championship (with partner Justin Burleson). She was medalist during sectional qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship.
This is Herrick’s sixth MGA Women’s Player of the Year honor. 
 
MGA Men's Player of the Year, Derek Hitchner (737.50 points). Hitchner, 22, of Minneapolis, is a member of The Minikahda Club. He won twice this season, including a wire-to-wire record-setting 15-under-par 54-hole aggregate score of 201 at the MGA Amateur Championship. Just two weeks earlier, Hitchner edged Derek Busby on the second playoff hole to win the Trans-Mississippi Amateur Championship. He tied for second place at the Minnesota State Open and qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship.
This is Hitchner’s first MGA Men's Player of the Year honor, and his second overall.
 
MGA Senior Men's Player of the Year, Tim Peterson (290 points). Peterson, 57, of Forest Lake, is a member of Forest Hills Golf Club. Excelling at match play, he qualified for the MGA Senior Players’ and regular Players’ championships, advancing to the semifinals and the round of 16, respectively. With partner John Brellenthin, they finished as low senior (side) and tied for second place, respectively, at the MGA Amateur Four-Ball and MGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball championships. Peterson gained entry to the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship as an alternate, qualified for match play and advanced to the round of 16.
This is Peterson’s first MGA Senior Men's Player of the Year honor.
 
MGA Junior Girls’ Player of the Year, Olivia Salonek (430 points). Salonek, 17, of Roseville, is a member of Cragun's. Salonek hit for the cycle this season in a series of major tournaments, finishing 1-2-3-4: She won the Minnesota State Junior Girls’ Championship, finished in second place (individual) at the MSHSL Class AAA Girls’ State Tournament, tied for third place in both the Minnesota Women’s State Open and the Minnesota Junior PGA Girls’ Championship, and finished in fourth place at the MGA Women’s Amateur Championship. Salonek also advanced to the round of 16 at the MGA Women’s Match Play Championship.
This is Salonek’s first 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.
 
Ray Sauer is the 2021 MGA Warren J. Rebholz Distinguished Service Award winner. The golfers at Bemidji State University (BSU) will not be surprised by Sauer’s recognition from the MGA: After the untimely death of his twin brother, Ed, he established the BSU Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament in 2008, eventually raising the funds to fully endow the golf team and put it on firm financial footing into the foreseeable future. He is, and remains, an ambassador of the game, not only by the example he sets on the golf course among his fellow competitors, but through years of tirelessly promoting the spirit of the game of golf, its rules, etiquette and traditions over more than five decades of hands-on golf administration in northern Minnesota, particularly in Walker, home to the Tianna 2-Man Best Ball and Tianna Shortstop. He was instrumental in the creation of the Northern Minnesota Indian Classic in 1969, which has evolved from a local fundraiser into an international event, attracting Native American participation from across the U.S. and the Canadian Provinces. Acknowledged by indigenous leaders, Sauer is credited with growing the game among the area’s Native American population through his selfless support as a tournament organizer, role model and promoter of numerous golf tournaments in northern Minnesota.  
 
The 2021 recipient, Ray Sauer, 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 Nov. 1. In addition, Carson Lee Herron and Sammy Schmitz, inductees into the 2021 MGA-PGA Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame, will be recognized (see the Aug. 12, 2021, Hall of Fame news release, click here).
 
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 Oak Ridge Country Club
Oak Ridge has been an active supporter of amateur golf and MGA championships since the early 1950s. During the latter half of the 20th Century, Oak Ridge hosted numerous MGA amateur competitions including a Senior Amateur, two State Amateur and six Four-Ball championships. The Club hosted the inaugural 1962 MGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship, and donated the original championship trophy. More recently, Oak Ridge hosted the 2018 MGA Amateur Four-Ball, the 2014 MGA/PGA Cup Matches, an MGA Players’ Championship (Match Play) and two additional Four-Ball championships. In addition, Oak Ridge has hosted several MGA Senior Tour events, MGA Junior Team qualifiers, MGA Member Days and many USGA men’s and women’s 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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