Warren Rebholz, 1928-2020
April 8, 2020
Warren J. Rebholz, 92, of Bloomington, Minn., and the Minnesota Golf Association’s first full-time executive director, passed away peacefully in his home April 7. Known by all as “Rebbie,” and disliked by practically no one, according to Tom Magne, a former assistant to Rebholz.
“Rebbie is arguably the most important person in Minnesota’s storied golf history,” explains Tom Ryan, MGA executive director/COO.
“He took over an MGA running a few championships a summer and left it an association that remains one of the most active and highly respected state associations in the country. He did it behind the scenes and without a lot of fanfare. He earned the respect of both local and national golf leaders through his hard work, his wisdom, and his total devotion to Minnesota golf.”
Rebholz, a former publishing sales executive who turned his hobby into a fulltime executive director position with the MGA, to which he would dedicate 58 years of service. He was elected president in 1970-71, and two years later was named executive director. Rebholz is credited with raising the stature of the association and its amateur golf administrative prowess to the top tier of state and regional golf associations. Under his watch, the MGA:
Along with Colorado, was an early adopter of the USGA Course and Slope Rating System (the foundation of the modern handicap system);
Provided computerized handicaps to both public and private golfers, thus growing the MGA membership to 75,000 golfers at 350 golf clubs around the state;
Engineered equitable tee time access for women golfers, thus avoiding costly tax legislation for golf courses;
Served on the USGA Rules Committee and officiated at 15 consecutive U.S. Open championships;
Transformed a biannual newsletter, “Tales from the Minnesota Golf Association,” into a glossy, bimonthly member magazine, the Minnesota Golfer;
With fellow Hazeltine National member Reed Mackenzie, was instrumental in the return of the U.S. Open to HNGC in 1991.
As an encore, after retirement from the MGA in 1992 Rebholz returned in 1996 to launch the MGA Senior Tour, a highly successful summer schedule of golf tournaments for the 55 and older set.
Rebholz was an accomplished athlete and golfer. He played baseball and basketball for Cretin High School, leading the baseball team to the private school state title in 1946. He won club championships at both Highland National Golf Club, St. Paul, and Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, where he was an early member, and he played in three USGA championships: the 1954 and 1958 Amateur Public Links, and the 1981 Mid-Amateur. Rebholz was inducted into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame in 1991, and later captained the successful Minnesota men’s team at the 2001 USGA State Team Championship at Hazeltine.
Reflecting on “Rebbie’s” influence, Ryan said, “We will miss him, but we will never forget him.”
Warren J. Rebholz, a Life Dedicated to the Game of Golf
Rebbie Turns 90
Star Tribune Obituary - April 12, 2020
Star Tribune Profile - April 8, 2020