What a heartbreak.
Earlier this decade, Michigan hosted a full docket of professional events, two from the Champions Tour, one from the LPGA, one from the PGA Tour, and one apiece from the minor-league Canadian and Duramed Futures tours. It has even lost the second-best amateur tournament in the country, with the Western Am. leaving Benton Harbor for the Chicago area last summer after a 30-year run at Point O' Woods.
Just two smaller events are left standing: the Michigan Open and the Michigan Women's Open, both run by the Michigan section of the PGA. The Women's Open, in its seventh year at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa in Thompsonville, tees off this week with play Aug. 3-5 on the resort's scenic Mountain Ridge course.
With the Buick Open's pending demise, this is now the only tournament in Michigan to entice top pros to visit the Wolverine state. The $40,000 purse has attracted the LPGA Tour’s Cindy Figg-Currier, Cindy Rarick, Sue Ertl, Anne Marie Palli and Allison Fouch, as will a handful of former champions with LPGA Tour experience on their resumes, players like Elaine Crosby and Suzanne Green-Roebuck.
Fouch, a standout from Michigan State, is currently 82nd in the Rolex World Rankings. Between 1985 and 2000 Cindy Rarick recorded four LPGA Tour victories and collected earnings totaling over $2.5 million. A tournament-record 111 players will tee it up, marking the third time in five years the event has broke its own high standards.
The Michigan Open attracts some solid pro talent as well, but its top players -- like past winners Ryan Brehm, who won at Orchard Lake Country Club earlier this year, and 6-time champ Scott Hebert, who won the 2008 national club pro championship -- couldn't even make the cut at this year's Buick Open.Michigan has too many good courses, players and fans to see such a shortage of high-caliber tournament golf. Unfortunately, the state of the game greatly reflects the state of our economy. Both are on life-support.