All-American Lonnie Nielsen Passes

IOWA CITY, Iowa — All-American and two-time All-Big Ten University of Iowa men’s golfer Lonnie Nielsen has passed away at the age of 67.

A native of Belle Plaine, Iowa, Nielsen won four tournaments as a junior during the 1974-75 season and was medalist in two tournaments his senior year in 1975-76. Nielsen’s 72-hole score of 290 at the 1976 NCAA Championships ties for the seventh lowest score in program history.

“The Iowa Golf program mourns the passing of Lonnie Nielsen,” said Iowa head coach Tyler Stith. “Lonnie was one of the all-time greats in our program and the state of Iowa, and was an even better person. Our deepest sympathies go out to the entire Nielsen family.”

He won several amateur events in Iowa, including the 1975 Iowa Amateur, and was named Iowa Player of the Year that year.

Nielsen was inducted into the Western New York PGA Hall of Fame in 2004, the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.

He turned pro in 1976, playing in over 100 PGA TOUR events, recording two top ten finishes, including a fifth-place finish at the 1979 Ed McMahon-Jaycees Quad City Open.

Nielsen played six full TOUR seasons before reducing his schedule to become a PGA club professional. He was a dominant player in the Western New York Section PGA, winning more than 100 overall titles and eventually the WNYPGA renamed its Player of the Year Award in his honor.

From 2006-2017, Nielsen competed on the PGA TOUR Champions, winning the Commerce Bank Championship in 2007 and the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in 2009.

Nielsen is survived by his wife, Mary Jo, two daughters, Sarah and Mollie, and a son, Andy.

Nielsen’s family will honor him on Monday, Jan. 25 at 9 a.m. (CT), in New York. A live stream of the service will be available online at