Nielsen, Smith share Iowa pride and similar paths.

The golf careers of Lonnie Nielsen and Jerry Smith follow remarkably similar paths.

Both were born and raised in Iowa. Both became one of the state’s top amateur golfers in their eras, winning an Iowa Amateur along the way. Both made it to the PGA TOUR, with lukewarm success. Both worked as club pros before joining the PGA TOUR Champions, where they reached the winner’s circle.

And Smith is about to join Nielsen as a member of the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame. He will be enshrined Tuesday night at Hyperion Field Club. Nielsen was inducted in 2010.

But here’s a first. Both will be playing in the same PGA TOUR Champions event for the first time when they tee it up at the Principal Charity Classic starting Friday at Wakonda.

Lonnie Nielsen.

Nielsen, a native of Belle Plaine who retired after the 2012 season, is playing here on a sponsor’s exemption. Smith, a full-time PGA TOUR Champions member, is from Oskaloosa.

Three native Iowans have won on the senior tour. Tom Purtzer, a four-time winner, was born in Des Moines but moved when he was 3 years old.  Purtzer was also in the field for this year’s Principal Charity Classic before withdrawing. But since his time in Iowa was so limited, his Iowa status is shaky.

So for the sake of argument, Smith and Nielsen are the only Iowa high school products to win on the PGA TOUR Champions. The two visited Monday night at a function hosted by Jim Carney, another former Iowa Amateur winner and a Wakonda member.

“I didn’t really know Jerry, but I talked to him for quite awhile,” Nielsen said. “He’s loving life out here.”

Nielsen played in 125 PGA TOUR events. His best finish was a tie for fifth at the 1979 Ed McMahon-Jaycees Quad City Open.

But life on the PGA TOUR Champions worked out much better for Nielsen. He won the Commerce Bank Championship in 2007 and the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in 2009.

“Those guys kicked me in the butt the first time around, and I figured they probably would the second time,” Nielsen said. “But my mulligan was much better.”

Nielsen chalks off his tepid PGA TOUR success to a fear. Of work.

“I was just in a different place in my life,” Nielsen. “I was so anxious. The thought of work really bothered me. It turns out that work wasn’t so bad. I wish I had realized that the first time.”

Nielsen took a job at a club pro at Crag Burn Golf Club in East Aurora, N.Y. It was a dream job.

“It was just the absolute perfect place for me,” Nielsen said.

He also had a successful playing career as a club pro, which got him ready for the PGA TOUR Champions.

Nielsen retired from the senior set after the 2012 season, and an aching knee played a huge factor. He had his left knee replaced in 2013. He had the same operation to replace his right knee in 2010.

“I have no pain anymore,” Nielsen said. “It’s such an unbelievable blessing, really.”

And now he’s back with the boys in an Iowa homecoming of sorts.

“I’m looking forward to the week,” Nielsen said.

Jerry Smith.

Smith said that having two members of the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame in the same event gives him some Iowa pride.

“No question,” Smith said.

Smith made his PGA TOUR Champions debut at the 2014 Principal Charity Classic, playing on a sponsor’s exemption. He made the tour through qualifying in 2015, and has played well enough to keep his playing status the past two years.

That includes a victory at the 2015 Encompass Championship. He’s also had a pair of thirds and seven Top 10 finishes.  Smith played in 153 PGA Tour events, with one third-place finish and six Top 10s.

“The golf courses are not overwhelming like they are on the regular tour these days,” Smith said. “A lot of the guys out here have made their fortunes. Granted, they are still working hard and playing hard. But I don’t know if they’re putting in quite the effort they did on the regular tour. And I think guys like Lonnie and I, when we got out here, we were hungry.”

This is the first time Nielsen has played in the Principal Charity Classic at Wakonda. He tied for 10th in 2010 and tied for 17th in 2009 at Glen Oaks. Smith’s best finish was a tie for 14th last year.

Smith won better than $600,000 in each of the last two years. He’s currently 43rd on the money list with earnings of $163,592.

“We’re only through 10 tournaments, but the quality of depth is a little stronger this year,” Smith said.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Editor’s note: Rick Brown has written about the two Iowa Golf Hall of Fame members in this year’s field, but there will actually be another covering the tournament. Congratulations to the author himself on being named a 2017 Iowa Golf Hall of Fame inductee. Rick is an 11-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year winner and a true champion of the game of golf. We are proud to feature his work on PrincipalCharityClassic.com. Congrats, Rick!


Bernhard Langer, defending champion Scott McCarron highlight 2017 Principal Charity Classic field.

The Principal Charity Classic®, presented by Wells Fargo, is pleased to announce the player field for this year’s tournament, set for June 6-11 at historic Wakonda Club near downtown Des Moines.

The Principal Charity Classic was named the PGA TOUR Champions Tournament of the Year in 2016 and has raised nearly $10 million to benefit Iowa children’s charities in the past decade.

Defending tournament champion Scott McCarron, now a three-time PGA TOUR Champions winner after earning his first career PGA TOUR Champions victory at the 2016 Principal Charity Classic, will be joined by 77 additional competitors, including:

  • Bernhard Langer, the 2016 PGA TOUR Champions Player of the Year and defending Charles Schwab Cup champion. The two-time Masters champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member has 32 career PGA TOUR Champions wins, the second-highest total in TOUR history (Hale Irwin leads with 45). With his recent victory at the 2017 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, Langer became the first player to win all five majors on the PGA TOUR Champions and surpassed Jack Nicklaus’ record for the most senior major titles (Langer now has nine total). Langer last competed in the Principal Charity Classic in 2015.
  • Past Principal Charity Classic champions Mark Calcavecchia (’15), Russ Cochran (’13), Jay Haas (’07, ’08, ’12), Bob Gilder (’02, ’11) and Tom Pernice, Jr. (‘14).
  • PGA TOUR Champions rookies Jerry Kelly, a native of Madison, Wisconsin, and David Toms, winner of the 2001 PGA Championship and 13 career PGA TOUR events.
  • Perennial fan favorites Fred Funk, Tom Lehman, Jesper Parnevik, Fuzzy Zoeller and Billy Andrade, who set a new Wakonda Club course record (63) during the second round of the 2016 Principal Charity Classic.
  • Iowa native Jerry Smith, a 2017 inductee into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame. Smith, who received a sponsor exemption to play in the 2014 Principal Charity Classic, went on to earn PGA TOUR Champions Rookie of the Year honors in 2015. He has played in the Principal Charity Classic for the past three years, with a best finish of T14 in 2016.

Also included in the 2017 Principal Charity Classic field are five players who received sponsor exemptions: Jay Don Blake, owner of more than three dozen top-10 career finishes in official PGA TOUR events; Damon Green, past Principal Charity Classic participant (’11, ’12) and professional caddie for PGA TOUR star and Iowa native Zach Johnson; Gary Hallberg, one of only 12 players to win a tournament on the PGA TOUR, Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR Champions; Brian Henninger, two-time PGA TOUR winner and second-place finisher at the 2015 Principal Charity Classic; and Lonnie Nielsen, Iowa native and member of the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame.

Principal Charity Classic tickets start at just $20, and may be purchased online at www.principalcharityclassic.com or at the tournament gates. Kids 15 and under may attend the tournament for free if accompanied by a ticketed adult. Complimentary admission is also provided for all active duty, retired and reserve military along with their dependents.

For more information, visit www.principalcharityclassic.com.

2017 Principal Charity Classic Final Field

Michael Allen
Stephen Ames
Billy Andrade
Tommy Armour III
Woody Austin
Jay Don Blake +
Michael Bradley
Paul Broadhurst
Mark Brooks
Olin Browne
Bart Bryant
Tom Byrum
Mark Calcavecchia
Jim Carter
Russ Cochran
Marco Dawson
Glen Day
Scott Dunlap
Joe Durant
Steve Flesch
Dan Forsman
Carlos Franco
David Frost
Fred Funk
Bobby Gage
Doug Garwood
Bob Gilder
Bill Glasson
Mike Goodes
Paul Goydos
Damon Green +
Jay Haas
Gary Hallberg +
Todd Hamilton
Brian Henninger +
John Huston
Peter Jacobsen
Lee Janzen
Brandt Jobe
Jerry Kelly
Skip Kendall
Bernhard Langer
Tom Lehman
Steve Lowery
Billy Mayfair
Blaine McCallister
Scott McCarron *
Larry Mize
Lonnie Nielsen +
Scott Parel
Jesper Parnevik
Craig Parry
Steve Pate
Tom Pernice Jr.
Tim Petrovic
Phillip Price
Tom Purtzer
Fran Quinn
Loren Roberts
Gene Sauers
Wes Short, Jr.
Joey Sindelar
Jeff Sluman
Jerry Smith
Rod Spittle
Kevin Sutherland
Esteban Toledo
David Toms
Kirk Triplett
Bob Tway
Scott Verplank
Duffy Waldorf
Willie Wood
Fuzzy Zoeller

Field notes

Final field will include 78 players; 4 event qualifiers currently TBD.

* denotes defending champion

+ denotes players receiving 2017 sponsor exemptions


Share a ‘Selfie For Good’ at the Principal Charity Classic.

Principal® is proud to announce the launch of “Selfie For Good,” a new fan promotion at the upcoming Principal Charity Classic®, presented by Wells Fargo. The annual PGA TOUR Champions golf event will take place June 6-11 at Wakonda Club in Des Moines.

Through the “Selfie For Good” promotion, Principal will award five fans with $500 in charitable dollars each day of tournament week (Wednesday-Sunday). Each fan will then select a charity to receive a $500 donation on their behalf. Over the course of the week, Principal will donate $2,500 to charity per day and $12,500 total.

To participate, fans should:

  • Take a selfie at the Principal Charity Classic.
  • Use the hashtag #PCC17 when posting their selfie to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
  • Principal will randomly select five selfies per day and donate $500 to each winner’s favorite charity.*
  • Winners will have more than 7,000 charities they can direct their donation to from around the world.

The Principal Charity Classic, which is focused on supporting Iowa kids, raised a record $2,053,725 for local children’s charities in 2016. The tournament has raised nearly $10 million for Iowa kids in the past 10 years, and was named the 2016 PGA TOUR Champions Tournament of the Year.

“Fans have such a great time on the course during the Principal Charity Classic, and posting selfies on social media has become part of how they share their tournament experience,” said Beth Brady, SVP and CMO at Principal. “The ‘Selfie For Good’ campaign is a fun and personal way for fans to help give back and to make an impact on behalf of the charities that are most important to them. So, take and post those selfies!”

Get tickets

Tickets to the Principal Charity Classic start at just $20, and can be purchased online at principalcharityclassic.com or at the event’s main entrance gate during tournament week.

As a reminder, kids 15 and under may attend the Principal Charity Classic for free if accompanied by a ticketed adult. Complimentary admission is also provided for all active duty, retired and reserve military along with their dependents.

For more information about the Principal Charity Classic, visit principalcharityclassic.com.

*Approved charities are defined as organizations that are IRS-registered 501(c)3 with a non-private foundation status of 509(a)1 or 509(a)2. Other restrictions may apply.


Larry the Cable Guy Joins Principal Charity Classic Pro-Am Field

Popular comedian and actor Larry the Cable Guy is bringing his golf game to the 2017 Principal Charity Classic®, presented by Wells Fargo, in Des Moines. The annual event, named the 2016 PGA TOUR Champions Tournament of the Year, is slated for June 6-11 at historic Wakonda Club.

Larry the Cable Guy is a multiplatinum recording artist, Grammy nominee, Billboard award winner and one of the top comedians in the country. Born Daniel Whitney in Pawnee City, Nebraska, he has his own line of Larry the Cable Guy merchandise and continues to sell out theatres and arenas across the United States. His latest comedy special, “We’ve Been Thinking”, can be seen on Netflix, and he will also reprise his role as Mater in upcoming CARS 3 movie this June.

Fans can watch Larry the Cable Guy play in the Wednesday Pro-Am on June 7 at the Principal Charity Classic.

“I love to get out on the golf course and to make people laugh – and hey, when those two things go together, it’s a really good time,” said Larry the Cable Guy, who played in the AT&T Celebrity Challenge at Pebble Beach earlier this year and maintains a 12.8 golf handicap. “A tournament like the Principal Charity Classic is truly awesome. Des Moines is close to home for me, and when I heard this event had raised almost $10 million for Iowa kids, I wanted to be part of it.”

In addition to his success as Larry the Cable Guy, the Grammy-nominated funnyman is known for his charitable work. In 2009, Whitney and his wife Cara established The Git-R-Done Foundation – named after his signature catchphrase – to support organizations helping children and veterans. The charitable foundation has made numerous donations, including a $5 million gift to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, Florida, to form The International Hip Dysplasia Institute in 2010. The couple’s son, Wyatt Whitney, was successfully treated for hip dysplasia at the hospital as an infant.

“We’re excited that Larry the Cable Guy was inspired to join us at the 2017 Principal Charity Classic after learning about the tournament’s charitable and community impact, which continues to grow each year,” said Tournament Director Greg Conrad. “He has achieved a lot of success in his career and has made it a personal priority to give back, especially in support of children’s and veteran’s causes. And supporting Iowa kids and the community is what the Principal Charity Classic is all about.”

The Principal Charity Classic raised a record $2,053,725 for Iowa children’s charities in 2016, bringing the tournament’s 10-year charitable giving total to nearly $10 million. More than 83,000 spectators attended last year’s tournament.

Get tickets

Tickets to the Principal Charity Classic start at just $20, and can be purchased online at principalcharityclassic.com or at the event’s main entrance gate during tournament week.

As a reminder, kids 15 and under may attend the Principal Charity Classic for free if accompanied by a ticketed adult. Complimentary admission is also provided for all active duty, retired and reserve military along with their dependents.

For more information about the Principal Charity Classic, visit principalcharityclassic.com.


Fred Couples Commits To Field For 2017 Principal Charity Classic

The Principal Charity Classic®, presented by Wells Fargo, the annual PGA TOUR Champions event in Des Moines, is pleased to announce legendary golfer Fred Couples has committed to play in the 2017 Principal Charity Classic. The tournament will take place June 6-11 at historic Wakonda Club.

Couples, who joins fellow World Golf Hall of Fame member Bernhard Langer in the tournament field, has won more than 60 professional golf events – including the 1992 Masters Tournament and the 1984 and 1996 PLAYERS Championships. In addition to his Masters win, Couples has recorded top-three finishes in the PGA TOUR’s three additional majors: the U.S. Open (T3, 1991), The Open Championship (T3, 1991 and ’05) and the PGA Championship (2nd, 1990).

Nicknamed “Boom Boom” because of his tremendous power off the tee, Couples is a five-time member of the United States Ryder Cup team. He has also served as captain of three victorious U.S. Presidents Cup squads (2009, ’11, ’13).

“We are thrilled to welcome Fred Couples back to Des Moines and the Principal Charity Classic,” said Greg Conrad, Principal Charity Classic Tournament Director. “Fred is one of golf’s true legends. Many of us grew up watching and cheering for him, and in awe of his effortless swing – which has allowed him to remain very competitive on the PGA TOUR, as well as the PGA TOUR Champions. Most importantly, we are excited for Des Moines, which continues to draw golf’s very best because of the community’s outstanding support.”

Since winning PGA TOUR Champions “Rookie of the Year” honors in 2010, Couples has notched 13 victories, including the 2011 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship and the 2012 Senior Open Championship.

Couples, 57, made his first and only previous appearance at the Principal Charity Classic in 2010, when he finished T11 with rounds of 70-70-66 at Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines. The 2017 Principal Charity Classic will mark his first time competing at Wakonda Club.

 In addition to Couples, current player commitments for the 2017 Principal Charity Classic include 2016 tournament champion Scott McCarron and 2016 PGA TOUR Champions Player of the Year Bernhard Langer, as well as John Daly, Jesper Parnevik, Billy Andrade, Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Funk, Jay Haas, Tom Lehman, Rocco Mediate, Tom Pernice, Jr., David Toms and Fuzzy Zoeller, among other fan favorites.

The Principal Charity Classic was named the PGA TOUR Champions Tournament of the Year in 2016 and has raised nearly $10 million to benefit Iowa children’s charities in the past decade.

Get a ‘Couples’ of tickets for the price of one

To celebrate Fred Couples’ return to the Principal Charity Classic, the tournament is offering a special ticket discount for fans. To get a 2-for-1 price on Good-Any-One-Day tickets to the Principal Charity Classic, simply enter promo code COUPLES when purchasing tickets online at principalcharityclassic.com now through tournament week.

As a reminder, kids 15 and under may attend the Principal Charity Classic for free if accompanied by a ticketed adult. Complimentary admission is also provided for all active duty, retired and reserve military along with their dependents.

For more information about the Principal Charity Classic, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit principalcharityclassic.com.


10 Questions with Scott McCarron

2016 Principal Charity Classic Champion Scott McCarron (left) and Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter Rick Brown.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

RB: Hale Irwin won 45 PGA TOUR Champions titles. You had dinner with him at last year’s Regions Tradition tournament (two weeks before the 2016 Principal Charity Classic) to pick his brain about why he was successful. You’ve won three times since. What advice did he give you?

SM: The main thing I took out of it was this: Find out what type of player you are and be that player. I was always trying to be the heroic guy, hit the heroic shot, go for broke. When I got in the hunt, if I was one up, I wanted to be seven up. I was always trying to do too much. I realized I’ve got to be more patient out there, kind of let the tournaments come to me, and see where I’m at the last couple of holes. Just be patient.

RB: Patience is a big reason why you won last year at Wakonda, right?

SM: I was very patient. I didn’t make a lot of birdies the last day, just kind of hanging in there. And then, lo and behold, I birdie 16, 17 and 18 to win. That showed me I’ve got to be a lot more patient because I was trying to force things a little too much. Especially just coming out to the PGA TOUR Champions. You want to win, you want to play well, you think you’ve got this five-year window and you want to get it done. If I stay in shape, I can have a 10-12-year window. No reason to rush it, let’s just be patient and hit the shots you know you can hit.

RB: You talk about not going for the heroic shot, but you win here by closing with three straight birdies, you win the 2016 Dominion Charity Classic in a playoff and you win the 2017 Allianz Championship with an eagle on the final hole.

SM: True, but I got in all those positions because I was patient. And then I was able to pull off a shot when I needed it. But even at the Dominion, I had about the same length putt I had here to win (10-footer on No. 18) and missed it. But I didn’t let it bother me. I lost in a playoff to Colin Montgomerie in Canada (Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship). You’re not going to win them all.

RB: You won three times on the PGA TOUR, and you were one of the first to use a long putter. Would you say that putting kept you from winning even more?

SM: Putting did not hold me back one bit. I was an excellent putter. But I putted with a long putter. Nothing held me back on the regular tour, except it’s hard. I won three times, lost a couple of playoffs, had some Top 10s in majors. I had a nice career. But not like a guy who won 10 or 12 times. I really feel like I should have won five or six, seven events on the PGA TOUR. Which would have been a really good career for me.  Unfortunately I only won three. But I still won.

RB: You hadn’t won a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event in 16 years (287 events since the 2001 BellSouth Classic) prior to last year’s Principal Charity Classic. Did that even enter your mind when you came down the stretch on Sunday at the Principal?

SM: Zero. I hadn’t won since 2001, but the feeling you have trying to win a golf tournament doesn’t go away.  It doesn’t matter if you’re on the PGA TOUR Champions, the PGA TOUR or your club championship. We still have the same feelings anybody has going to win a tournament. It’s calming yourself, clearing your mind and hitting the shots you need to have.

RB: You played your final 47 holes without a bogey at Wakonda last year. That’s remarkable.

SM: I remember the only bogey I made was on No. 7 (in the first round). I ran a 35-footer about 5 feet by. And as I was putting some car went down the road and honked right in my backswing. I’m like, “Really?” That was the only bogey I made all week. The guy got me. A White Cutlass Supreme. I wish I would have gotten the license number.

RB: You won three times in a 17-month stretch, shortly after getting married in April of 2016. What role has your wife Jenny played in your success?

SM: She’s been amazing. We’ve been together for about 5 years now. She has been so supportive. Because there was a time, when we started dating, where I was injured. I had to have thumb surgery  to have a bone spur removed. I wasn’t playing that well. I had a couple years to get ready for the PGA TOUR Champions, which I was really looking forward to. We were going out and playing the Web.com Tour, and she was caddying for me at some events. Staying in podunk hotels, trying to save some money.  It was tough. And she was so supportive. And then I got the job with Fox to do announcing. And there was a little bit of me that said, “I don’t know if I’m going to be good enough on the PGA TOUR Champions to keep doing it.” And she kept pushing me. She said, “You know what? You are. This is what you love to do.” Her being a fitness instructor and triathlete, I was training a lot with her, getting in shape. And she was a huge motivational factor for me to practice and prepare for the PGA TOUR Champions.

RB: You’ve got some interesting hobbies, like flying, mountain biking, fly fishing and guitar. Do they help you get away from golf?

SM: Absolutely. We love to fly fish. I got my pilot’s license back in college, so I was flying and doing quite a bit of that. I’m not flying now.  I’m a member of a race track. We go out there and race cars a little bit.

RB: It sounds like you enjoy living on the edge a bit.

SM: I like doing something that occupies my mind so that I’m not thinking about golf because golf can be very consuming. You’ve got to get away. And when I’m fly-fishing, it’s that next cast. I’m not thinking about anything in golf.

RB: When you come back to a place where you’ve won, is it a nice feeling?

SM: Just driving in the parking lot here (at Wakonda Club), I got a “whoa” feeling. Those emotions come flooding back. Because this was a very exciting time, to win your first event. I love this golf course. I love how well this event is supported by the city, the fans, the sponsors, the volunteers – everyone. The Principal Charity Classic is one of the best-run tournaments we play on the PGA TOUR Champions. It feels like a major. Having that many people come out and watch us play really is a thrill.


Bernhard Langer Joins 2017 Principal Charity Classic Field.

The Principal Charity Classic®, presented by Wells Fargo, the annual PGA TOUR Champions event in Des Moines, is pleased to announce 2016 PGA TOUR Champions Player of the Year and defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Bernhard Langer has committed to play in the 2017 Principal Charity Classic. The tournament will take place June 6-11 at historic Wakonda Club.

The Principal Charity Classic was named the PGA TOUR Champions Tournament of the Year in 2016 and has raised nearly $10 million to benefit Iowa children’s charities in the past decade.

“We are tremendously excited to welcome Bernhard Langer back to Des Moines for the 2017 Principal Charity Classic,” said Greg Conrad, Principal Charity Classic Tournament Director. “His performance on the PGA TOUR Champions has been nothing short of spectacular, and he continues to raise his level of play every year. It’s incredible and inspiring to watch him.”

Langer, 59, recorded four victories last year – including two major championships – en route to claiming his record fourth Charles Schwab Cup title. The two-time Masters champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member was also named the PGA TOUR Champions Player of the Year for the sixth time in his decorated career.

Langer has 30 career PGA TOUR Champions wins, the second-highest total in TOUR history (Hale Irwin leads with 45). He previously played in the Principal Charity Classic in 2010, ’12, ’13 and ’15, with a best finish of T10 in 2012.

Strong early field for 2017

In addition to Langer, early player commitments for the 2017 Principal Charity Classic include 2016 tournament champion Scott McCarron and fan favorite John Daly, as well as Jesper Parnevik, Billy Andrade, Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Funk, Jay Haas, Tom Lehman, Rocco Mediate, Tom Pernice, Jr., David Toms and Fuzzy Zoeller, among others.

“The strength of early player commitments for our 2017 tournament reflects the quality of the Principal Charity Classic and its status as a premier event among PGA TOUR Champions competitors,” Conrad said. “Great players want to play in great events, and the fantastic support of the Des Moines community – from spectators and volunteers to sponsors and local media – does not go unnoticed by the players.”

Save with code ‘Langer’

In recognition of Bernhard Langer’s return to the Principal Charity in 2017, fans can save 17% on all available ticket options – including VIP Champions Club tickets – now through April 10 by using promo code LANGER when purchasing tickets online at www.principalcharityclassic.com.

As a reminder, kids 15 and under may attend the Principal Charity Classic for free if accompanied by a ticketed adult. Complimentary admission is also provided for all active duty, retired and reserve military along with their dependents.

For more information about the Principal Charity Classic, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.principalcharityclassic.com.


Principal Charity Classic Named PGA TOUR Champions Tournament of the Year.

The PGA TOUR Champions has named the Principal Charity Classic as 2016 Tournament of the Year, presenting the annual Des Moines event with its coveted “President’s Award.” The PGA TOUR bestowed the honor Wednesday, December 7, during its annual meetings in Las Vegas.  Principal is the title sponsor of the Principal Charity Classic.

“We thank the PGA TOUR not only for this award, but for the opportunity over the last 10 years to sponsor an event that gives so much back to our community— especially our children,” said Beth Brady, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Principal®. “And, it’s very meaningful to receive this honor during global volunteer week, a time when many of our 15,000 employees around the world are themselves giving back in their communities.”

The President’s Award is the highest tournament honor awarded by the PGA TOUR Champions annually and recognizes overall excellence, as well as the intangibles that make a tournament stand out among many successful events. This year marks the first time the Principal Charity Classic has been chosen to receive the President’s Award.

“The Principal Charity Classic has left a significant charitable footprint as well as an estimated $23 million annual economic impact on the greater Des Moines region,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. “That matters to this state. It’s companies like Principal, as well as the volunteers, spectators and local businesses that step up every year, that make this tournament possible and keep our state moving forward.”

Principal celebrated the 10th Anniversary of its title sponsorship in 2016, which marked the tournament’s most successful year to date.

The 2016 Principal Charity Classic:

  • Attracted a record 83,389 spectators to Wakonda Club during 2016 tournament week.
  • Donated a record $2,053,725 to Iowa children’s charities, including six regional Tournament Charity Partners and more than 100 statewide charity organizations through the tournament’s Birdies For Charity program.
  • Inspired increased engagement, with the tournament’s record 2016 donation representing a 46% increase over the previous year; the Principal Charity Classic’s all-time charitable giving total now stands at nearly $10 million in 10 years.
  • Introduced the MidAmerican Energy “Green Canyon” on holes 16 and 17 at Wakonda Club as a fan enhancement, designed to provide continuous content via LED ribbon boards and ease of access to food, drink and merchandise.
  • And also finished as one of the top nominees for the PGA TOUR Champions 2016 “Players Award” as voted on by the Player Advisory Council.

Scott McCarron claimed his first career PGA TOUR Champions victory at the 2016 Principal Charity Classic with a one-shot victory over Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Billy Andrade. McCarron would go on to win the Dominion Charity Classic in November and add two runner-up finishes during the year to wind up at No. 4 in the final Charles Schwab Cup standings.

The 2017 Principal Charity Classic will be played June 6-11 at Wakonda Club in Des Moines. To purchase your tickets, click here.


Good Luck, RAGBRAI Riders!

RAGBRAI, The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is a yearly seven-day bicycle ride across the state, and 8,500 riders will be making their way along its route July 24-30!

Variety – the Children’s Charity of Iowa, one of the Principal Charity Classic’s six Tournament Charity Partners, will be awarding 175 Variety bikes to underprivileged and at-risk children during RAGBRAI 2016, with presentations in each of the ride’s five overnight towns: Shenandoah, Creston, Centerville, Ottumwa and Washington.

In the past decade, Variety has also presented more than 160 specialized bikes to children with special needs, and 50 of those bikes donated in conjunction with funds raised by the Principal Charity Classic.

Specialized bikes help children with special needs gain mobility, confidence, freedom, independence and the chance to join in the life of their community by providing funding for specialized bicycles to children. Specialized bikes are customized for each child and range in price from $2,000 to $6,000. However, they are rarely covered by insurance, making Variety’s work that much more important.

“There is absolutely nothing like seeing a child’s face light up – and the faces of their family members – when they receive their very own specialized bike,” said Greg Conrad, Principal Charity Classic Tournament Director. “It’s very real and impactful for everyone involved, and those moments are what the Principal Charity Classic is all about.

To learn more about the Principal Charity Classic’s support of Variety, CLICK HERE.

To make a donation in support of Variety Bikes, CLICK HERE.


Rick Brown Review: 2016 Principal Charity Classic Was A Winner

Scott McCarron won the BellSouth Classic on April 2, 2001, in Duluth, Ga. Five months later, the PGA TOUR Champions came to Greater Des Moines for the first time.

A sweet 16 years later, the Principal Charity Classic welcomed McCarron as its latest champion Sunday at the Wakonda Club.

For McCarron, it was his first victory in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event since that 2001 victory in suburban Atlanta. That covers 287 tournaments, the last 17 on the PGA TOUR Champions.

Sixteen years is a long time to wait. It’s also a testimony to the success of this tournament, which was played before record crowds and seems to get better and better each year.

This year’s field played for a purse of $1,750,000, which is close to what this tournament will produce for charity.

The 2015 event set a record by generating $1.4 million for the tournament’s “FORE Our Kids” designated charities as well as the “Birdies for Charity” program.

Beth Brady, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Principal, expects the 2016 event to set a new record for charity dollars. That means this tournament will have raised nearly $10 million in the 10 years Principal has served as title sponsor.

A crowd of 31,612 came to the Wakonda Club for Sunday’s final round, bringing the three-day total to a record 83,389. Attendance records were also set for the first round (25,058) and second round (26,719).

Many of those fans hung out at the “MidAmerican Energy Green Canyon,” one of the new fan-friendly areas unveiled this year. The “Green Canyon” included the 16th green, the par-3 17th and the 18th tee. Grandstands circled the 17th green, with an LED ribbon board created by local company Insane Impact to keep those fans informed. The new Hornitos Hacienda – home to “birdie margaritas” – was a popular “Green Canyon” stop as well.

The 17th green turned out to be a pivotal spot in determining Sunday’s winner. That’s where McCarron holed a 36-foot downhill birdie putt to take the outright lead he’d never surrender.

Thirty-six feet? Are you sure it wasn’t 30 or 35? No, McCarron will tell you, it was 36.

“I’ve been stepping off putts since I was 10 years old,” McCarron said. “I had a chipping lesson from Bill Rogers (a former British Open champion) way back then and he always had me step off my putts. So when someone asks me how far it was, I usually know. It was 36 feet, going downhill.”

McCarron put the wraps on his first career PGA TOUR Champions victory with a stellar second shot from the right rough on No. 18 that stopped just inside 10 feet from the hole.

McCarron made three practice strokes from behind the ball, addressed that ball and stroked it into the cup. A fist pump followed after the ball disappeared.

“Yeah,” he hollered, with a clap of his hands, as he walked off the green. And then he had to wait for the final two threesomes to finish before he could accept the trophy and the first-place check of $262,500.

McCarron didn’t watch the final two groups play the 18th on purpose.

“Out here on the Champions Tour we root for everybody,” McCarron said. “All these guys are my friends. I don’t want anybody to hit a bad shot. So I don’t even want to know what’s going on. I just want to do my own thing, and see what happens.”

Several players in those final two groups shook McCarron’s hand and offered congratulations.  The long wait – 16 years long – was over.

And it ended with some incredible golf. McCarron shot 68-68-65. He played his last 47 holes without a bogey. In fact, he had just one bogey the entire tournament. And when he avoided a second bogey on the par-3 9th on Sunday, he got the feeling it was going to be his day.

“I buried it in the lip on No. 9 and had a very difficult shot,” McCarron said. “I got it just over the green. I made about a 13-footer for par. That’s kind of what really saved the round.”

Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Billy Andrade both birdied the 18th hole to finish in a tie for second, a shot behind McCarron. Andrade’s closing-hole birdie was his record 21st of the tournament, erasing the previous tournament mark of 20 set by Gil Morgan while winning in 2006. Andrade wasn’t as fortunate. Victory eluded him.

“You know what?” Andrade said. “Somebody’s got to win and somebody’s got to lose, right?  But I’ll be back next year.”

That will be June 6-11, 2017, a week later than this year. Another year of planning to make one of the best stops on the PGA TOUR Champions even better.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter