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Remembering George Nelson during PGA’s 100th Anniversary

February 22, 2016

2016 marks the 100th anniversary for PGA of America, also known as the PGA Centennial celebration. This celebration allows us to take a step back and recognize all the passionate individuals for their endless service to the game of golf.

George Nelson PR

Pictured: George Nelson with his wife, Patti (left), and their close friend Juli Young (right) at the 2008 North Shore Health Care Tournament hosted at Superior National GC in Lutsen, MN

George Nelson Jr., the grandson of a Swedish immigrant that homesteaded in Lutsen, was highly regarded in his community for his relentless effort and contributions, especially in regards to golf; a sentiment that is still shared today.

“He was a fantastic, giving man that gave tremendously to the game of golf and its growth over the years,” said Heath Ekstrom, Head Golf Professional at Superior National at Lutsen.

George’s story began when he was recruited and served in an Army skiing division during World War II. He was one of many skiers in the 10th Mountain Division that fought in the mountains of Italy once the United States became a part of the war.

Skiing in the war was not enough for Nelson. Shortly after his return home, he took the initiative of building a ski area in Lutsen—the Lutsen Mountains, located above his family’s lakeside Lutsen Resort. He eventually sold the ski resort in 1980, but not before he had developed it into what is now a 1,000-acre ski resort with almost 100 runs.

Several years after he sold his ski resort, he parted ways with his family’s lakeside resort. Only difference is there was a catch this time. “He promised the 360-acres of land to Cook County under the condition there was a golf course built on it,” said Ekstrom. This demonstrated the type of person Nelson was and highlighted his love of golf.

His vision paved the way for Superior National Golf Course. What started as an 18-hole course in 1991 is now a visually spectacular 27-hole course. “In a course, you hope for one key feature between water, mountains and elevated views,” said the designer Jeffrey Brauer. “This course happens to have all three.”

Nelson represents everything the game of golf stands for, and the centennial celebration is all about remembering and celebrating the lasting impact he and many others made on the game of golf.

The Minnesota Section PGA consists of PGA Professionals who are experts in the game and business of golf. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment and involvement of the game of golf and to contribute to its growth by providing services to golf professionals, the golf industry, people who play golf or would like to start playing golf. PGA Section Offices oversee the 41 geographic regions throughout the United States and provide the grass-roots network for the nation’s 25 million amateur golfers and with the PGA’s 27,000 members.

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