Montana Joins the Pacific Northwest Golf Association in 2024
Tacoma, Wash. – The Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) has announced that the Montana State Golf Association (MSGA) will become one of its member associations, with the new partnership taking effect on January 1, 2024.
Founded in 1899, the PNGA is the fifth oldest golf association in North America. The current member associations of the PNGA include British Columbia Golf, Idaho Golf Association, Oregon Golf Association, and Washington Golf. With the addition of the MSGA as a PNGA member association, these five associations will now serve and provide benefits and core services to more than 200,000 individual members throughout the region. In the state of Montana, the MSGA serves more than 20,000 individual members and provides core services to over 100 member clubs and 97 golf courses. “We are thrilled to welcome the Montana State Golf Association into the Pacific Northwest Golf Association family,” said Troy Andrew, PNGA executive director. “This expansion not only strengthens the bonds of the golfing community in our region, but also enhances the ongoing collaborative efforts amongst the member golf associations of the PNGA.”
For the MSGA, the partnership means a host of additional benefits for its members, including participation in the PNGA’s elite regional championships, subscription to the region’s premier Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine (published by the PNGA), collaboration with the marketing alliance created by the PNGA’s member associations, and support in providing its core services. “This is an exciting time for us,” said Nick Dietzen, MSGA executive director. “Together we will be able to partner in so many areas and learn from one another. Our entire membership will benefit.”
Montana has already played a role in the PNGA’s long history. Opened in 1899, Butte (Mont.) Country Club was one of a handful of established clubs in the region during that era. Although Butte CC was invited to attend the PNGA’s founding meeting on Feb 4, 1899, the club did not send a delegate, so is not considered one of the PNGA’s six founding clubs, but the club would host several PNGA events during the first part of the 20th century. In 1913, the PNGA Amateur (for men and women), considered one of North America’s premier championships, was held at Butte Country Club. The perpetual trophy of the PNGA Men’s Amateur is called the Macan Cup, and it still bears the Butte Country Club logo – the 1913 championship was won by PNGA Hall of Famer Arthur V. Macan, who later donated the trophy to the PNGA to be used as the perpetual trophy for the championship. The annual yearbooks published by the PNGA in the early 1900s regularly included Montana as having clubs as members of the PNGA. “We are really excited to be re-joining the PNGA,” said MSGA President Mary Bryson. “We believe it will provide our members with additional opportunities, from both a playing and services perspective.”
The MSGA will now have two seats on the PNGA Board of Directors, reserved for the MSGA executive director and current president. Along with the governance and enhanced collaboration with the PNGA’s member associations, it also means coordinating the schedule of PNGA championships with the schedules of the member associations, elevating the field strength of PNGA championships, and making them true regional championships for the top players, ensuring further national recognition.
About the Pacific Northwest Golf Association
The PNGA was founded on February 4, 1899. It is a 501c3 charitable, international, amateur golf association dedicated to preserving the true spirit of the game by supporting its member associations, conducting quality championships, and promoting activities beneficial to golfers in the Pacific Northwest. For more than a century the Association has been a pioneer in developing competitions and services, and its mission has grown and evolved. Today, the PNGA remains committed to being a truly regional organization by providing additional benefits to the membership of each Member Association throughout the Northwest. For more information visit thepnga.org.
Remembering Gene Cook (1934-2023)
Gene Cook, widely considered the greatest male golfer in Montana history and a Great Falls sports icon for decades, died February 7 at a Missoula assisted-living facility at the age of 88. Cook is survived by his wife of 69 years, Elaine, as well as three daughters, Kim (Bill) Madison of Lakeside, Montana; Kerri (Mark) Anderson of Glen, Montana; and Kelly (Pat) Costello of Missoula. He is also survived by a sister, Audrey (Fran) Ely of Bismarck, North Dakota. Cook also leaves behind a foster son, Glenn (Sue) Schmasow of Aurora, Colorado, plus nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Bill and Maxine Cook, as well as a brother Bill and a sister Mary Ann.
There will be no funeral services per the wishes of family. A celebration of Gene’s life may be held in Great Falls later.
Gene was born in 1934 in Bismarck, North Dakota, where he was well-known by his nickname Rusty. He starred in many sports as a youth and won state championships as a high school senior in golf, tennis, and track. He played both golf and basketball at Bismarck Junior College, where he met his wife, and later at the University of North Dakota, where he earned his degree. Gene’s first job in Montana was as a teacher, coach, and athletic director at East Junior High in the late 1950s. He remained at East for 25 years, becoming a successful coach in football, basketball, and track. But it was in the sport of golf that Gene gained the most notoriety and fame. He won six Montana State Amateur championships, two Montana State Mid-Amateur Championships, and seven Montana State Senior Championships in a career that continued into his 80s. He won many other titles in Montana, including more than a dozen club championships at Meadow Lark Country Club, where he won his first title at age 25 in 1959 and his last at age 62 in 1996. He was a charter member of the Montana State Golf Association Hall of Fame, and for many years players at the State Mid-Amateur have competed for the Gene Cook Cup. Several battles with cancer finally ended his golf career a few years ago.
Gene also was widely respected for his work as a football and basketball official, both at the high school and college level. He was inducted into the Montana Officials Association Hall of Fame after he retired. The last chapter of Gene’s sports career was as a volunteer basketball coach for female youth teams. In his 60s, he founded a program called Cook’s Girls that trained many young females who went on to successful careers in high school and college. He often commented that it was the most rewarding work he did in a life filled with big accomplishments.
The Montana State Golf Association mourns the loss of one of the game’s luminaries in the Treasure State and celebrates his impact in golf and beyond awarding the Gene Cook Cup annually at the Montana Mid-Amateur Championship. The MSGA extends its condolences to Mr. Cook’s family. Gene will be missed.
MSGA Board Member and Sportswriter, George Geise, authored an excellent piece on Gene Cook in the November 2022 MSGA Newsletter, which can be found here.