50 years of Galesburg Women's All-City Golf: Who's won the most titles? What's the future?

Matthew Wheaton
Galesburg Register-Mail
Gail Hannam watches her drive from the 13th tee at Lake Bracken during the final round of the Galesburg Women's All-City Golf Tournament on Friday, July 23, 2021.

GALESBURG —  The Galesburg Women's All-City has taken place since 1972. 

And Gail Hannam has teed it up in every edition of the annual golf tournament, which is in its 50th year this summer. 

Hannam organizes the event and is its unofficial historian, if you will, and Hannam's face lights up when she speaks about the Women's All-City. It did Tuesday afternoon, while Hannam enjoyed an iced tea at Innkeeper's. 

Hannam, who is also Carl Sandburg College's women's golf coach and is among those who make up the Illinois Women's Golf Association's board of directors, always shows joy when she talks about the tourney.

The Women's All-City is a labor of love for Hannam, and she plans to keep doing the behind-the-scenes work until she can't anymore. The same goes for playing in the tournament for Hannam, a 1972 Galesburg High School grad and a two-year letter winner for the University of Illinois women's golf team in 1975 and 1976, as part of the program's first ever squads.

Check out:Gail Hannam's University of Illinois Alumni Spotlight

"The very first year, I had just graduated from high school and there was hardly any women's sports. This was an opportunity for me to actually compete in a sport with other people, and I just ended up just really loving the opportunity because I had never had the opportunity before," Hannam said of the Women's All-City. "I actually ended up going to college (Illinois) and playing there. The opportunities came but this was the first opportunity.

"I've always enjoyed the format of the tournament," Hannam added. "It was something to look forward to every year. It was the benchmark of the year to see how you were playing. It didn't matter whether you played good or not — at least you were trying."

Participation has fallen over the years

In the first year of its existence, 49 individuals competed in the Women’s All-City, and 54 did in 1973. In the 1991 version, 65 women competed in the tourney which is the highest number of entries the event has drawn.

Only 20 took part in the Women’s All-City in 2021. Hannam is hoping at least 30 will this summer. The tourney will open at Bunker Links on Tuesday, July 19, continue at Lake Bracken on Wednesday, July 20 and conclude at Soangetaha on Friday, July 22.

"Participation keeps getting lower and lower and that becomes an issue. We're trying hard this year but without the young ladies to keep filtering in the majority of the tournament is older ladies. There for a while, we had some young kids playing," Hannam said. "It's a great opportunity but these young kids have so many opportunities now. They don't really need to play in our tournament but it's nice when they can support the local one. 

"I know Bracken has a bunch of good young girls coming up. I look forward to that," Hannam added. "We just need the young ones to keep filtering in. We've had a lot of good young champions but then they leave town. It's not that they don't play anymore. They're just not here."

Dunn, Kessler aide Women's All-City 

Dave Dunn, owner of Dave’s Autobody, and his wife, Natalie Kessler, play a part financially in the Women's All-City and have for quite some time. They pay for the tourney's awards reception, and Dunn and Kessler also cover the costs of charms that each participant receives.

“We’re big boosters, and we’re going to continue to support as long as we’re financially able to support it," Dunn said.

This year, Dunn and Kessler, the owners of Masters Education Services, are sponsoring the tourney's first 50 entries. 

"Once Dave Dunn started sponsoring our reception that really made the tournament special," Hannam said. "We can come in have a drink and have hors d'oeuvres. We can share. Golf is as much social as it is anything.

"Dave and Natalie are sponsoring the registration fees this year so we only have to pay for a cart," Hannam added. "Of course, Dave is going to have a huge reception for us on Friday. It will be more than usual."

Senior portion added in 1997

Women of all ages have always competed in the Women's All-City but in 1997 a senior portion was added to the tournament. Those who are 55 and older are able to golf in the first and final round with the chance to claim a title. 

"Some of the ladies thought they couldn't compete with the younger girls so we decided to have a senior division," Hannam said. "The senior division is only two days because they felt comfortable playing just two days."

Hannam has claimed two Women’s All-City titles (1996 and 2010). She won both the overall tourney title and Senior crown in 2010. Hannam’s won the Senior All-City 11 times and been atop that field the last nine summers. 

"For the older ladies, half of them want to play just so we can have lunch together. It's not so much the competitiveness now," said Hannam, who always competes for both titles. "I'm still very competitive."

Kathy Dunn trophy among those handed out

In 2006, the Kathy Dunn Memorial trophy was added to those handed out once the Women's All-City concludes.

Kathy Dunn passed away in 2002 at the age of 51 after a courageous battle against cancer. She was married to Dave Dunn for 32 years.

“We started the Kathy Dunn Memorial tournament for the net player so it would encourage people to play that probably weren’t ever going to win the actual All-City title and that’s been really popular and a way to honor Kathy," Dave Dunn said. “My interest in being a financial support to the Women's All-City goes back to when (Kathy and I) were first members at Soangetaha Country Club.

"Kathy was an avid golfer and women were banned from playing on the weekends or basically had very little rights. It was about 25 years ago, and I took it upon myself to do the necessary research to help them understand the importance of allowing women to participate at an equal level," Dunn added. "At that point, the women’s tournament didn’t have a lot of support, so I started paying for the receptions. 

“We’ve tried to do as much as possible because Kathy was such an avid golfer. The memorial award is just a way to keep her memory alive.”

Women’s All-City winners

1972: Vernie Mendrek, 236 

1973: Vernie Mendrek, 242 

1974: Connie Graham, 234

1975: Connie Graham, 236 

1976: Connie Graham, 231 

1977: Vernie Mendrek, 151* 

1978: Vernie Mendrek, 228 

1979: Vernie Mendrek, 224 

1980: Vernie Mendrek, 234 

1981: Sandy Owen, 232 

1982: Sandy Owen, 221 

1983: Vernie Mendrek, 227 

1984: Cookie Rosine, 231 

1985: Cookie Rosine, 232 

1986: Kim Kessler, 223

1987: Kim Kessler, 208 

1988: Cindy Watson, 221 

1989: Vernie Mendrek, 223

1990: Cindy Watson, 224

1991: Jill Werder, 225 

1992: Vernie Mendrek, 241 

1993: Cheri Hosteng, 233 

1994: Stefanie Mitchell, 229 

1995: Stefanie Mitchell, 211 

1996: Gail Hannam, 232 

(Senior Women’s All-City - two rounds - added in 1997 that winner is listed second)

1997: Cheri Hosteng, 236; Tede Verner, 178 

1998: Leslie Gumm, 231; Irene Allen, 163 

1999: Cheri Hosteng, 234; Gloria Humphreys, 177 

2000: Leslie Gumm, 232; Pat Lehman, 178 

2001: Cheri Hosteng, 229; Gloria Humphreys, 160 

2002: Cheri Hosteng, 233; Gloria Humphreys, 176 

2003: Cheri Hosteng 223; Jan Starcevich, 169

2004: Cheri Hosteng, 239; Glenda Benoit, 158 

2005: Cheri Hosteng, 234; Marilyn Malley, 176 

2006: Cheri Hosteng, 230; Marilyn Malley, 172 

2007: Cheri Hosteng, 161*; Glenda Merrill, 86* 

2008: Cheri Hosteng, 230; Glenda Merrill, 168

2009: Trisha Blake, 227; Glenda Merrill, 170 

2010: Gail Hannam, 233; Gail Hannam, 150 

2011: Trisha Blake, 224; Gail Hannam, 163 

2012: Stefanie Mitchell, 218; Mary Robson, 158 

2013: Taylor Thompson, 215; Gail Hannam, 160 

2014: Taylor Thompson, 211; Gail Hannam, 166 

2015: Taylor Thompson, 217; Gail Hannam, 164 

2016: Lexi Petersen, 144*; Gail Hannam, 82* 

2017: Katy Schmitt, 228; Gail Hannam, 170 

2018: Katy Schmitt, 228; Gail Hannam, 164 

2019: Lexi Petersen, 209; Gail Hannam, 166 

2020: Maitlyn Sanders, 225; Gail Hannam, 166 

2021: Maitlyn Sanders, 224; Gail Hannam, 153

Kathy Dunn Memorial Winners

2006: Trisha Blake, 207

2007: Joanna Sholl, 144*

2008: Marilyn Malley, 201

2009: Lorraine Gottenborg, 204

2010: Judy Clayton, 196

2011: Cheri Hosteng, 204

2012: Diana Kessler, 205

2013: Stephanie Mitchell, 213

2014: Carol Renander, 206

2015: Jordan Koehler, 209

2016: Lorraine Gottenborg, 136*

2017: Cheri Hosteng, 210

2018: Karen Randall-King, 201

2019: Linda Betzelberger, 205

2020: Trisha Millar, 221

2021: Deb Galbreath, 212

* = two-day event due to rain

Matthew Wheaton can be reached at (309) 315-6073 or at mwheaton@register-mail.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewlwheaton