A group of 1960s and 1970s alumni turned a tragedy into triumph when they established the Snoot-Jake-Whip Open – a 20-year tradition that has raised more than $400,000 in scholarships for Morningside student-athletes while giving the group a reason to gather each year

Napoleon Hill wrote, “Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache, carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” 

Many members of Morningside classes from the 1960s and 1970s experienced a deep heartache when Dennis “Snoot” Turnure ’68 passed away in a house fire in 2003. The tragedy was a painful one. Gathering at the funeral brought many of Snoot’s friends and fellow alums to the realization that life was indeed too short. They knew they needed to be more intentional about finding time to spend together. That tragedy planted the seed for an idea.

“Attending Snoot’s funeral, a lot of us realized that there was a real danger that the only time we were going to see one another was at weddings and funerals. I didn’t want those places to be the only times we could get together. That’s when we put the wheels in motion for an annual golf event. It has evolved a lot over the years, but the point was always to make sure we made time for one another,” said Ivan Streit ’69. Streit worked with Marc “Jake” Jacobsen ’72 to make arrangements to host that first golf outing in 2004 at the Emerald Hills Golf Course in Arnolds Park, Iowa. Coined the Snoot Open in honor of their friend, they felt a summer event in Okoboji would be the right draw.

“Many of us have a place in Okoboji and all of us know lots of people in this area, so it’s fun to come here anyway, but the course is great and the company is even better. We have been doing this for a lot of years now. It’s something we all look forward to,” said Tom Rosen ’70.

Denny Pederson ’72 noted that because the event is something people look forward to, it has also helped it grow. He shared, “When we started this we were just thinking about it in terms of our group of friends from the sports that we played. I’m really proud of how it has grown to include a new generation and alumni from all sports and activities.”

The gathering and the golf are at the heart of the event, but those have led to other traditions being established as part of the gathering. Some of those traditions include a scholarship fund honoring those who have passed, as well as reading out loud the names of those who have passed from the group at a dinner that follows golfing.

“This started with remembering Snoot, but as the years passed we started losing other people. We decided that in addition to getting together, we would establish the Chief Club Scholarship for Morningside student-athletes in memory of those in the group who passed away. We have a plaque that the Morningside University Institutional Advancement department helps us maintain and every year we read the names of those on the plaque at the dinner we host after golfing,” shared Mike Cadwell ’69. “It’s an emotional moment for many reasons, and it’s incredible to know that we have raised more than $400,000 in scholarships while carrying on the memory of our friends.” 

Over the years the name of the event has also been updated. It became the Snoot-Jake Open in 2007 following the passing of Mark “Jake” Jacobsen. In 2020 it was changed to the Snoot-Jake-Whip Open when Doug “The Whip” Huitink ’72 died. Both gentlemen were integral to the establishment and success of the gathering over the years and those in the group agreed it would be right to provide them that honor.

One element that had not changed until 2023 was the leader and organizer of the group. ‘The Committee’ – a nickname coined for Streit – had consistently been at the helm of the Snoot-Jake-Whip Open from the start. After inviting Mark Paulsen ’82 to bring a group from the 1980s to join the Open a few years back, Streit saw how it added new life to the group – and he also saw an opportunity to pass his leadership role to Paulsen.

“Ivan first talked to me about taking the reins of the group a couple of years ago. 2023 was my first year officially organizing it. I really enjoy getting together and reminiscing with all the alums connected to this group. Being part of this has been a great thing and I want to make sure it carries on into the future. I love that I am able to carry the event forward,” said Paulsen.

This past August as the group gathered for its 20th time on one of the hottest days of the year, the things that make the Snoot-Jake-Whip Open so special were apparent throughout the entire day. The air filled with boisterous greetings and many big hugs and handshakes were observed as the group arrived and spotted old friends. At every hole, Morningside alumni golfers could be found making jokes and sharing memories. That evening as spouses joined the group for dinner, the room was filled with joy and laughter. And as the names were read from the plaque to honor friends gone too soon following dinner, silence and tears told a story of grief and love.

The evening had one other extra special moment, too, when Paulsen made time to honor the man who had handed him the reins. With tears in his eyes, Ivan ‘The Committee’ Streit accepted a special award from Morningside University Alumni Engagement Director Alex Watters for his work building the Snoot-Jake-Whip Open.

With one Snoot-Jake-Whip Open now under his belt, Paulsen is looking to the future and encouraging other alumni to stay connected either through the Open or through other events.

“We want to invite more of the other generations to grow this group so it continues. We don’t want it to stop with our generations. This is a Morningside celebration and we want to include anyone who wants to be part of it. More than anything, though, I hope others take a page from what we have done. If you were lucky enough to build relationships at Morningside like the ones this group has, make the time to get together before there isn’t time.”