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The Scarlet & Black

John Shawver: the Pro Shop’s Pro of the Year

John Shawver was named Pro of the Year by the Iowa Golf Assocation for his services to the sport. Photo by Lily Seibert.

Assistant Men’s Golf Coach John Shawver recently received the honor of PGA Professional of the Year for his work at the Grinnell College Golf Course (GCGC). Each year, the Iowa Golf Association gives this award to someone who has gone above and beyond to foster enjoyment and participation for the game of golf.   

Shane Hart, manager of the GCGC and Shawver’s former golf student, nominated him for the award. In his nomination form, Hart highlighted some of the qualities that made Shawver an exceptional coach and teacher:

“You’ll be greeted by a genuinely caring individual who goes out of his way to make you feel truly welcome …Yes, John can discuss green speeds, grass blends, clubface thickness, swing planes, and spin rates. He would be the first to tell you that none of these things matter unless you are having fun, playing, and willing to get a little bit better.” 

Despite his impressive resume, Shawver retains a high level of modesty regarding his role at the GCGC and the overall institution of golf.         

“It was a surprise that [Hart] nominated me, so that was really nice,” said Shawver. “It was kind and I really appreciated that ‘cause at least it feels like my efforts here are doing something. But as far as actually getting it, that was kind of a shock. I don’t really fit the mold, I guess. It was a really nice surprise, and pretty humbling for me.”

While Shawver brings over 30 years of experience to the GCGC, anyone who frequents the golf course’s pro shop immediately recognizes the way that he prioritizes respect and kindness in the interpersonal relationships he develops through the sport. Shawver spends the majority of his time and energy instructing golfers of all ages. 

“There’s a different approach to actually every individual,” Shawver said. “I think that’s maybe my philosophy or strength. I try to get to know the actual individual that I’m working with, and that seems to help people learn faster.” 

Shawver maintained that there is always remains room for his students to grow.

“When you start, you feel like everybody’s good and you’re terrible, which is not the case at all. The reality is that everybody is just somewhere down that line, and it has to do with how much they’ve put into it, or how much time,” he said.   

Despite Shawver’s aptitude in teaching a variety of levels, his primary interest lies with instructing children. Their enthusiasm for the game bolsters his own passion for golf.   

“Kids will hit ten bad shots and one good one and they will remember that good one,” Shawver said. “They’ll come and tell me about the good one. And adults, they’ll hit nine good ones and one bad one and they’ll come and tell me about that bad one. It’s just because, you know, kids aren’t afraid to miss.”     

Much of Shawver’s aptitude for teaching comes from his own experience as a professional golfer. After turning pro in 1991, he competed in three PGA tours and a number of PGA Championship events. He constantly works on improving his own skills and learning more about the game. 

“I feel pretty blessed,” Shawver said. “My faith is a big part of what I do, and I think that it’s just really a gift that God gave me, to be able to share what I love to do.”


John Shawver was named Pro of the Year by the Iowa Golf Assocation for his services to the sport. Photo by Lily Seibert.
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