MGA ANNOUNCES YEAR-END AWARD WINNERS
October 23, 2023 | 10 min.
EDINA, Minn. (Oct. 23, 2023) – The Minnesota Golf Association’s 123rd Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner will be held on Monday, Oct. 30 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.
“As we reflect on a successful golf season, we are privileged to present the amateur champions, our accomplished players of the year and impressive award winners. They all represent expertise and commitment at its finest. Please join us at the annual awards dinner where we can properly celebrate these outstanding performances as well as recognize our many volunteers who make our events so exceptional,” said Ede Rice, MGA president.
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.
Another set of siblings, Caleb and Kathryn VanArragon, who, respectively, won the MGA Amateur and Women’s Amateur championships this past season, also share Player of the Year honors – for the second consecutive year. The last time siblings won the men’s and women’s Player of the Year concurrently was in 1994, when John Harris and Nancy Blanchard earned the honors.
The players listed in the following categories have earned the distinction, the 2023 MGA Player of the Year:
MGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year, Lynn Anderson (285 points). Anderson, 58, of Hopkins, is a member of the Braemar Golf Course in Edina. A highlight of Anderson’s season was her win at the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Championship at The Bridges Golf Course in Winona, Minn. She finished tied for runner-up at the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship, with partner Leigh Klasse, and she made it to the quarterfinals of the MGA Women’s Senior Match-Play Championship. Anderson earned second and fifth place finishes, respectively, at the Northland Women’s Invitational and MGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, in addition to finishing as the low senior in both events. Fittingly, she also qualified for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Troon Country Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
This is Anderson’s first MGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year honor.
MGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year, Torger Ohe (180). Ohe, 17, of Edina, is a member of Youth on Course Minnesota. Ohe made his mark on the national amateur scene by reaching the round-of-16 at the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the Daniel Island Club in Charleston, S.C. On the local stage, he finished third at the MSHSL Class AAA Boys’ State Tournament at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids, he tied for second at the Twin Cities Junior Championship, he qualified for the Minnesota State Open, and most notably, he was the runner-up at the Pine to Palm at Detroit Country Club in Detroit Lakes.
This is Ohe’s first MGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year honor.
MGA Senior Player of the Year, Jerry Rose (352.92). Rose, 65, of Alexandria, is a member of Alexandria Golf Club. Most certainly gratifying for Rose was his win – his third in seven years – at the MGA Senior Player’s Championship on his home turf, Alexandria GC, defeating Mark Aldrich in the finals, 6 and 4. He finished second at the MGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship, with partner Jim Lehman, he tied for second at the Minnesota Senior Open, and he captured low-senior honors at the MGA Amateur and MGA Amateur Four-Ball championships, the latter with partner Lehman. Rose reached the round-of-32 at the MGA Players’ Championship, he tied for 10th place at the MGA Senior Amateur Championship and he qualified for the Minnesota State Open.
This is Rose’s fifth MGA Senior Player of the Year honor.
MGA Player of the Year, Caleb VanArragon (780 points). VanArragon, 22, of Blaine, is a member of Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids. He is just the fourth player in state history, and the first since 1998, to win both the MGA Amateur Championship and Minnesota State Open in the same season, doing so in record fashion at the former by setting tournament bests for aggregate score and score in relation to par at 193 and 23-under, respectively. VanArragon reached the round-of-16 at the MGA Players’ Championship, he won the overall championship at the MGA Mixed Amateur Team Championship, with partner and sister, Kathryn VanArragon, and he tied for third place at the Canadian Amateur.
This is VanArragon’s second consecutive MGA Player of the Year honor, and his third title overall.
MGA Junior Girls’ and Women’s Player of the Year, Kathryn VanArragon (590 junior and 450 regular points). VanArragon, 18, of Blaine, is a member of Youth on Course Minnesota. Seemingly continuing a family tradition, she won both the MGA Women’s Amateur Championship and the Minnesota Women’s State Open in the same season, and in doing so, she and her brother Caleb became the first sibling duo to win both state championships in the same year. VanArragon won the MGA Mixed Amateur Championship with her brother, Caleb, she won the Minnesota Girls’ Junior PGA Championship, and she finished second in the MSHSL Class AAA Girls’ State Tournament. She also qualified for the U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship at the United States Air Force Academy Eisenhower Golf Club in Colorado Springs, Colo. VanArragon is the first player since Sarah Burnham in 2012 to claim concurrent MGA Junior Girls’ and Women’s Player of the Year titles.
This is VanArragon’s first Women’s Player of the Year honor, her fourth MGA Junior Girls’ Player of the Year title.
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.
John S. Mendesh is the 2023 MGA Warren J. Rebholz Distinguished Service Award winner. Since his days as an Evans Scholar Caddie at Northland Country Club in Duluth, Minn., and after graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1979 through the Evans Scholars Program, Mendesh has continued to give back to the community that supported his college education.
As a successful executive at General Mills (he invented Cinnamon Toast Crunch), and while juggling other philanthropic and volunteer commitments, Mendesh has worked tirelessly to advance the Evans Scholarship Program for more than 40 years. He served on the Minnesota Evans Sholar Alumni Association, from 1980 to 1985, leading fundraising and scholar mentoring efforts. In 1993, he was elected director of the Western Golf Association, initiating local fundraising for the Evans Scholars through his home club, as well as other local and national WGA activities. During 2000-2001, he was co-chair of the Building Success Campaign, which raised in excess of $2 million to build a new home for the young men and women Evans Scholars on the University of Minnesota campus. In 2001 he was elected to the WGA Board of Governors, which is responsible for administering the Evans Scholars Program, and from 2001 to 2009, Mendesh was the WGA State Head responsible for supervising the Evans Scholars Program in Minnesota.
In 2016, he chaired the WGA Long Range Planning Committee and secured a pro bono commitment from Bain & Company, a global management and consultant company, to create the first strategic plan in the association’s history. The plan, 2030 Ambitions, includes goals to grow the program to 1500 scholars annually, increase diversity and assist scholars as they transition to careers. In 2018 Mendesh was elected to the WGA Evans Scholars Board of Trustees, which is responsible for the overall governance of the association.
His impact on the Evans Scholars Program is without precedent. Generous with his time and talents, Mendesh has steadfastly endeavored to improve the Evans Scholars experience for students and alumni alike. He has helped procure high level donors and has mentored young men and women caddies from the program helping them open doors to further their education and career opportunities. During the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing downturn in caddie loops, Mendesh worked to ensure that caddie programs thrived at Minnesota golf clubs. More recently, he helped bring an all-new program to provide caddie opportunities, including potential Evans Scholarships, for underserved young women in Minnesota called the Minnesota Caddie Academy, a Western Golf Association program.
In the words of Mendesh’s nomination submission, “it is impossible to estimate the number of lives positively influenced by a relationship with John.” John S. Mendesh 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. 30. 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.