MGA Announces Year-End Award Winners
October 15, 2020
View the 2020 MGA Players of the Year on Youtube.com, click here.
EDINA, Minn. (Oct. 15, 2020) – The MGA is pleased to announce its year-end award winners which include the MGA Players of the Year (in six categories), the MGA Fritz Corrigan Evans Scholar of the Year, and the MGA Member Club of the Year.
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 33rd hole.
The players listed in the following categories have earned the distinction, the 2020 MGA Player of the Year:
Men’s Player of the Year Frankie Capan, (710 points). Capan, 20, of North Oaks, is a member of the North Oaks Golf Club. He finished first and second in two of Minnesota’s most important stroke-play championships: the MGA Amateur Championship, where he posted 12-under par, two shots better than runner-up Andrew Israelson, and the Minnesota State Open, where he finished second to Angus Flanagan. Capan, who was exempt into the U.S. Amateur Championship field (there being no sectional qualifying due to the Covid-19 pandemic), qualified for match play and advanced to the Round of 32. He was exempted into the field at the Western Amateur but did not make the cut to advance to match play, and with partner Shuai Ming “Ben” Wong, he was exempt from qualifying for the 2020 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, which was cancelled, and their exemption carries forward to the 2021 championship.
This is Capan’s first MGA Men’s Player of the Year honor, and his second POY overall.
Women’s Co-Player of the Year Taylor Ledwein, (355 points). Ledwein, 23, of New Prague, is a member of New Prague Golf Club. She finished runner up to Kathryn VanArragon at the Minnesota Women’s State Open and took second place at the MGA Mixed Amateur Team Championship with partner Alex Schmitz. Ledwein, with partner Megan Welch, won the MGA Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, she reached the semifinals of the MGA Women’s Amateur Match Play Championship, and she finished in the top ten (9th) at the MGA Women’s Amateur Championship.
This is Ledwein’s first MGA Women’s Player of the Year honor.
Women’s Co-Player of the Year Kate Smith, (355 points). Smith, 21, of Detroit Lakes, is a member of Detroit Country Club. At Stillwater Country Club and the MGA Women’s Amateur Championship she won handily by six shots for her second women’s state amateur title. Smith, who was exempt into the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship field (there being no sectional qualifying due to Covid-19), qualified for match play and advanced to the Round of 32. She finished in 10th place at the Minnesota Women’s State Open.
This is Smith’s first MGA Women’s Player of the Year honor.
Senior Women’s Player of the Year Betsy Aldrich, (330 points). Aldrich, 54, of Minnetonka, is a member of Woodhill Country Club. She finished in first place twice this season, with a win at the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Match Play Championship and the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship, the latter with partner Barb Miller. Aldrich nearly won the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Championship and the MGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, finishing runner up in both events.
This is Aldrich’s first MGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year honor.
Senior Men’s Player of the Year Jerry Rose, (315 points). Rose, 62, of Alexandria, is a member of Alexandria Golf Club. Rose reached the finals of the MGA Senior Players’ Championship, finishing runner-up to Jay Gregory, and he advanced to the Round of 32 at the MGA Players’ Championship. Rose, with partner Jim Lehman, finished in second place at the MGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship and tied for fourth place as low senior amateurs in the MGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Rose tied for 5th place at the Minnesota Senior Open, he tied for 56th place at the MGA Amateur Championship, he finished as the second low senior at the MGA Mid-Amateur Championship, he tied for 9th place at the MGA Senior Amateur Championship and he earned player points for qualifying for the Minnesota State Open.
This is Rose’s fourth consecutive MGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year honor.
Junior Boys’ Player of the Year Nate Stevens, (300 points). Stevens, 16, of Northfield, is a member of Northfield Golf Club. Thanks to top-ten performances at three of the State’s most prestigious tournaments, Stevens secured his Junior Boys’ Player of the Year award in a decisive manner finishing in 2nd, 6th and 8th places, respectively, at the Minnesota Golf Champions, the MGA Amateur Championship, and the Minnesota State Open. In addition, he qualified for the MGA Players Championship, although he did not advance to match play.
This is Stevens’ first MGA Junior Boy’s Player of the Year award.
Junior Girls’ Player of the Year Kathryn VanArragon, (380 points). VanArragon, 15, of Blaine, is a member of Bunker Hills Golf Club. She won twice this summer: the Minnesota Women’s State Open and the Twin Cities Junior Girls’ Championship, she reached the finals of the MGA Women’s Amateur Match Play Championship before losing to Grace Curran on the 19th hole, and she finished 2nd at the Minnesota Section of the PGA Junior Girls’ Championship. VanArragon nearly broke into the top-ten at the MGA Women’s Amateur Championship, finishing 11th.
This is VanArragons’ second consecutive MGA Junior Girls’ Player of the Year honor.
A complete list of player points can be found at http://www.mngolf.org/playerpoints.
MGA Fritz Corrigan Evans Scholar of the Year
Amanda Polanski, a caddie at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis, is a senior at the University of Minnesota, carrying a 3.9 GPA, and majoring in Biology with a minor in Leadership.
Polanski has an impressive leadership record as an Evans Scholar: In 2017, she received the Adelor J. Petit New Scholar of the Year Award; in 2019, she served as the vice president of finance for the Minnesota Chapter; and in 2020, she was named the co-chair of the Evans Scholars National Committee, and voted Minnesota Chapter president.
Staying involved in the Minneapolis community is important to Polanski, as demonstrated by her volunteer work at the Aurora Center for Advocacy & Education as a violence prevention educator. Polanski has also served as the assistant coach and mentor of an eighth-grade girls traveling basketball team. In addition, she organized the first-of-its-kind Minnesota Evans Women’s basketball team which competed at the Evans Scholars Foundation Winter outing. Following graduation in the spring of 2021, Polanski plans to pursue a master’s degree in Genetic Counseling.
MGA Member Club of the Year
Stillwater Country Club was named the 2020 MGA Member Club of the Year in recognition of the facility’s support of the MGA Associate Member program and its willingness to host MGA events, such as the MGA Senior Tour and Member Days’, MGA amateur championships, including, most recently, the 2020 MGA Women’s State Amateur, and USGA qualifiers.
Established in 1924 to accommodate the high demand for golf in the east metro, the club’s original nine-hole layout was designed by Tom Vardon, younger brother to Open champ Harry Vardon. In 1959, the golf course expanded to 18 holes when Paul Coates designed the second nine, as well as reconfiguring many of the original holes. In 2015, the club rebuilt all of the bunkers on the course, restoring many with grass faces in keeping with Vardon’s original style. New bunkers were added, some repositioned and several eliminated as unnecessary. Vardon, a prolific golf course architect in high demand in the upper Midwest, was inducted into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame in 2012 and is credited with designing more than 40 golf courses in the region.
Fans of Vardon will appreciate that Stillwater’s holes one, seven-through-eleven, and 18 are original.
Stillwater Country Club enjoys a storied tournament history in Minnesota golf thanks to its long-running Short Stop (now named after longtime greenkeeper Lyle Cran). Established in 1944, it remains one of the premier amateur events in the Twin Cities and features numerous State Amateur and State Open champions among its past winners.
Stillwater played host to its first state amateur championship in 1963 when Rolf Deming defeated Loyal “Bud” Chapman, 4 and 3, in the 36-hole finals match of the MGA Amateur Championship.
Most recently, Kate Smith was the only player to finish under par through 54 holes of the MGA Women’s Amateur Championship this past July, winning with a score of 70-71-74—215 (-1).
Unquestionably, the most decorated player in the club’s history is Bev (Gammon) Vanstrum, once called the “Tiger Woods of statewide women’s golf” by former MGA president and executive director Warren Rebholz. Vanstrum joined Stillwater CC in 1959. During a stretch from 1953 to 1968, she won 17 state amateur championships: seven MWGA Stroke Play and six MWGA Match Play championships, and four Minnesota Women’s Amateur championships. Fittingly, Vanstrum was inducted into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame in 1991.
Currently, Stillwater Country Club actively supports the MGA’s non-profit mission through a large and active MGA Associate Member program (689 active members) using the GHIN service.
The club will be awarded with a commemorative plaque and featured in the 2021 Directory issue of Minnesota Golfer, the official publication of the MGA.
Due to Covid-19 pandemic, the association will conduct a “virtual” Annual Meeting on Oct. 27, 2020, where a new slate of officers will be voted on by a quorum of MGA Board of Directors. The MGA annual Awards Banquet will be held at a later date to be determined.
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.