Monday, August 27, 2012

Hebert wins sixth Michigan PGA in seven years

I'd like to take some credit for Scott Hebert's recent win at the Michigan PGA Championship at Oakland Hills University's two courses.

But that would be a little silly. Still, I can't help but think that by dragging him out of the office a week before the championship to play a little golf on The Bear had to help. Hebert, the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa's head professional and director of instruction, talked about how he had been playing poorly, but I watched him make two birdies almost without effort in nine holes from the tips of The Bear.

At the Michigan PGA, Hebert started the day three shots off the lead and shot a final-round 3-under-par 69 on the Katke-Cousins course at Oakland University. It was just one of four rounds under par on the final day, and put him at 8-under-par 208 for the three days, and four shots ahead of Ian Ziska, the head professional at Katke Golf Club at Ferris State University, who closed with a 75.

“It’s nice to be No. 1 among your peers,” Hebert said after collecting a $6,000 first-place check, a crystal trophy and earning another inscription of his name on the Gilbert A. Currie Trophy. “To win at this point in my career when I don’t put as much effort on my game feels great. To come out and get to 8-under on two good golf courses is something to be proud of.”

Matthew Zavadil, a teaching professional with the host Oakland University Golf & Learning Center, shot a closing 71 for 214 and a tie for third place with Tom Harding of Kendall Golf Academy in Ypsilanti.

Hebert, who also has six Michigan Open victories in his career, said he hit his driver well all week, and made critical putts when needed. “I was proud of how I hit it,” he said. “It was nice playing out of the fairway most of the time. That has been my problem all summer, and not to do a commercial, but the new Titleist driver was phenomenal. Plus, I made a lot of four-footers, the kind you have to make when you really need to make them.”

Hebert, as a past PGA Professional National Champion (2008), is exempt for the 2013 club pro national championship. The next 10 golfers earned exemptions, which means Ziska, Harding, Zavadil, Brad Dean, TJ Roberts, Scott Schulte, John Seltzer, Lee Houtteman of Grand Traverse Resort, Kyle Martin of Lochmoor Club in Grosse Pointe Woods and Matt Pesta of Beacon Hills Golf Club will make the June 23-26 trip to Sun River, Ore., for the national event. Houtteman, Martin and Pesta won their spots in a four-golfer playoff for three spots. George Bowman of Oakhurst in Clarkston will be the first alternate.

“We’re going to send a strong group to Oregon,” Hebert said. “We’re all proud of our (Michigan PGA) section, and I’m proud to be on top right now.”

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Michigan PGA Championship kicks off at Oakland University this week

The Michigan PGA Championship generally signifies the end of the competitive season for Michigan's top golf professionals.

Held at Eagle Eye in recent years, the 54-hole competitions starting Monday moves to the celebrated R&S Sharf and Katke-Cousins golf courses at Oakland University. The two courses are hosting the annual championship of the top club and teaching professional players for the first time. The field will split and play a round each on the two courses Monday and Tuesday with Wednesday’s closing round on the Katke-Cousins course. An estimated $46,000 purse is at stake.

Scott Hebert, a five-time champion, will defend his title, and the head professional at Grand Traverse Resort in Acme has great memories of the Oakland University golf facilities. He won the 2008 Michigan Pro-Pro Championship there with Mick DeKorver of Sunnybrook Country Club in Grandville.

Hebert, also a six-time Michigan Open champion, has won five of the last six PGA titles, interrupted in that stretch only by 2010 champion Ron Beurmann of the Country Club of Jackson. He said defending the title he won last year at Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath will require the best golf he has played this year.

“I’ve had such a miserable year, but I hit some balls today and it seemed to be getting better,” he said in a statement. “I’m planning to get geared up to play. I would love to win again, obviously.”

Hebert, the Michigan PGA’s Player of the Year from 2006 through 2010, will be joined in the field by 2011 Player of the Year Brian Cairns of Fox Hills Learning Center in Plymouth. Cairns, a two-time Michigan PGA champion, played with the world’s top golfers in the recent PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, S.C., after earning a spot with a top 20 finish in the PGA Professional National Championship last year. The top 10 of next week’s Michigan PGA Championship earn spots in the 2013 Professional National Championship (PNC) field, the first step in qualifying for the 2013 PGA Championship. Cairns (pictured above) missed the cut at the PGA Championship the past two years, but he'll tell you just teeing it up in a major is every club pro's dream.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Former MSU player Barb Mucha wins Wendy's Charity Challenge in Jackson

It was a successful home coming of sorts for Barb Mucha.
LPGA Tour veteran Barb Mucha, an Ohio native who played college golf at Michigan State University, recorded her first win in 14 years at the $100,000 Wendy’s Charity Challenge presented by Aveeno, held at the Country Club of Jackson on Aug. 12. Mucha held off Cindy Rarick in a two-hole playoff to win the Legends Tour’s sixth annual event in Jackson.
Both players were tied at 2-under 70 after regulation in the 18-hole tournament. Returning to the 18th hole twice for the playoff, both players scored par on the first extra hole. On the second time around, Rarick’s tee shot found the left rough, and then her approach shot clipped a tree branch, landing her ball 50 yards short of the green. Her 18-foot putt for par rolled three feet past the cup. Mucha had the steadier hand. She struck a pitching wedge to 15 feet and left her birdie attempt one foot short. The tap-in par putt awarded Mucha her first win since the LPGA’s 1998 Sara Lee Classic in Nashville, Tenn. That LPGA victory also came in a playoff.
“It feels a little surreal, but really good to win again,” said Mucha, a resident of Orlando, Fla., who won five times in her 19-year LPGA Tour career. “It’s definitely a more relaxed atmosphere on the Legends Tour, but you still have to perform to win.”
Mucha’s performance moved her into the playoff when others fell off pace. She recorded a key birdie on the 16th hole when she hit a 5-iron to 20 feet and drained the putt.
“I made some key putts,” added Mucha, who switched to the “claw grip” two years ago with a standard-length putter. Mucha has spent the last three years teaching golf in Orlando and mentoring male and female players on developmental professional tours. Her performance won her a $15,000 winner’s check. Defending champion Lorie Kane of Canada three-putted the last hole in regulation to fall out of any playoff hope. Rarick, the tournament leader, also bogeyed the 18th hole in regulation to drop into a tie with Mucha at two under. Kane and fellow LPGA Tour veteran Sherri Steinhauer finished tied for third at one-under 71, while Rosie Jones finished fourth at even-par 72.
One of eight tournaments on the Legends Tour, this year’s event featured 25 Legends players on the tour for LPGA members age 45 and over. The Wendy’s Charity Challenge has raised more than $1.65 million for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption since 1999.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Brian Cairns represents Michigan at the 2012 PGA Championship this week

I feel for Brian Cairns.
Qualifying for the 2012 PGA Championship is pretty awesome, but having to play the Ocean course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in tournament conditions will be pretty brutal.
Cairns, a teaching pro at Fox Hills Golf & Banquet Center in Plymouth, Mich., is playing in his second straight PGA Championship. Pretty heading stuff for any club pro.
The New York Times wrote a great piece at last year's PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club that featured Cairns. It reads:
Then there was the scene on the practice putting green when Brian Cairns, a teaching pro from the Fox Hills Golf and Banquet Center in Plymouth, Mich., badly misjudged the ultra-speedy green at the Atlanta Athletic Club and knocked his first putt way past the hole. The ball rolled and rolled until it was close to where Phil Mickelson was practicing.As Cairns sheepishly retrieved his wayward ball, Mickelson turned and said, “Club pro, right?”But Mickelson also offered his hand to shake.“He congratulated me for getting into the tournament and talked with me for a while,” said Cairns, who is 47. “That was really flattering. I think the tour pros welcome us. They know we are part of the event.”
That story kind of sums up what the event means to Cairns and the other 19 club pros teeing it up. They'll enjoy the experience, but they're not really expected to make the cut, let alone contend. Cairns will have Jordan Young, a fellow teacher at Fox Hills, on the bag. They'll cherish the journey together, even if the fierce winds whip up off the South Carolina coast.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

J.R. Roth wins Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain

BOYNE FALLS – J.R. Roth moved to New Mexico a few years ago and plays when he gets the chance on the Champions Tour.
That has narrowed his chances for making more Michigan major championship golf history to one shot each year, but the 52-year-old former Flint and Detroit area club professional made good on it by shooting a closing 4-under-par 68 to win the Tournament of Championships for the fifth time at Boyne Mountain Resort Wednesday.
Including two wins in the now-defunct Yamaha Classic , a six-year event (1986-91) then considered a Michigan major, Roth counts 15 Michigan majors (five Tournament of Champions titles, four Michigan PGA titles, two Michigan Open titles, two Match Play titles and two Yamaha titles) on his resume. That ties him for the all-time lead in majors with Al Watrous, who built his legend with nine Michigan PGA titles and six Michigan Open titles.
“One of the reasons I keep coming back to the tournament is to try and get that record, and now I guess I’ll come back and try to beat that number,” said Roth, who is already a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member like Watrous . “I think about that number all year long.”
Roth’s closing number of 68 on the Alpine course put him at 10-under-par 206, three shots better than Marty Jeppesen, a mini-tour player from Ypsilanti who closed with a 71 for 209. Tim Matthews, who like Jeppesen was tied with Roth for the lead starting the final round, shot a closing 72 for 210 and tied for third place with low amateur honoree Wes Gates, a Bowling Green State University golfer from Novi who shot 71 to close at 210. David Nolan, a teaching pro at Van Dyke Sports Center in Warren, shot 72 for 211 and fifth place.
Roth finally pulled away in the final round with birdies on Nos. 14 and 16, just after Matthews had trouble with his driver and Jeppesen missed some key putts.
“I got a little frustrated on 6, 7, 8 and 9, kind of lost my swing a little bit, and couldn’t get the ball to go in the hole,” Roth said. “When I made the turn, I knew I needed to make three or four birdies. I was able to do that in the end, Tim and Marty had some bogeys and I was able to walk it down 17 and 18 and enjoy it a little bit.”
Matthews said three driver swings cost him, which are the kind of mistakes that can’t be made when playing against Roth.
“He hits it down the middle, knocks it on the green and makes putts, and well, wins,” Matthews said. “He’s a great, great player and that’s why he is making history.”
Roth won $10,000 of the $55,000 purse, received a crystal trophy and will have his name put on the Walter Burkemo Trophy for the fifth time. He also was honored with a green-jacket ceremony by defending champion Lee Houtteman.
This story and photo were taken from a press release by Greg Johnson.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Country Club of Jackson to host LPGA's Legends Tour Aug. 12-13

The Indianwood Golf & Country Club isn't the only Michigan course hosting some legends of golf this summer.

The Legends Tour, the LPGA’s official tour for professionals age 45 and over, will visit the Country Club of Jackson for the sixth annual Wendy’s Charity Challenge presented by Aveeno on Aug. 12-13.

Hosted by Michigan native and Legends Tour President Elaine Crosby, the event will feature a purse of $100,000 and will once again bring LPGA legends to the Great Lakes State. Scheduled to play are Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Rosie Jones, Jan Stephenson and others.

“I played collegiate golf tournaments in Michigan and I traveled with the LPGA Tour for many years to our event in East Lansing, so it will be good to return there with the Legends Tour in August,” said Lopez, a 48-time LPGA tournament winner.

One of eight tournaments on the Legends Tour, this year’s event will feature a Sunday professional tournament with 25 Legends players, followed by a Monday pro-am presented by Coca-Cola that will pair 25 Legends pros with 100 amateurs.

“Our sponsors who participate in the pro-am look forward to coming back each year to play with an LPGA Legend,” said Mark Behm, president of Stanton & Associates, Inc., which own and operate more than 60 Wendy’s restaurants in Michigan. “This is our 12th year hosting a pro-am, so many of our supporters have actually formed friendships with the pros and it’s great to see everyone come together to help the kids. We’re proud of our relationship and tradition with these great Legends of the game.”

The Wendy’s Charity Challenge tournament has raised more than $1.65 million for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption since 1999. Tickets are $10 each day, with kids 17 and under admitted free. All military personnel are also admitted free with a current ID. Advance tickets also may be purchased by visiting .

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Michiganders winning top tournaments

It's been an interesting summer for a handful of Michigan golfers.

Let's take a closer look at who's playing well:

MICHIGAN WOMEN'S AMATEUR CHAMP: I met this girl when she was a freshman in high school. I knew then she was a special player. Brighton's Emmie Pietila, who will play at the University of Tennessee this fall, won the 96th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship after defeating Natalie Brehm of Mount Pleasant, 2&1 in the final match-play round at Forest Akers West. Pietila, 18, has been playing in Golf Association of Michigan tournaments since she was 15 years old and almost did not register for this year’s Women’s Amateur because she was going to try and qualify for the Junior PGA Championship in Kentucky.“This was closer and just easier logistically so that is why I ended up registering for this tournament versus the junior qualifier,” said Pietila. “I’m really glad I made that decision.” Both girls come from great golf families.

WEB.COM CHAMP: Doug LaBelle II, also a native of Mount Pleasantwho now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., beat Michael Putnam to capture his second Tour victory (the first since 2006). LaBelle has bounced back and forth between the PGA Tour and former Nationwide Tour. This $99,000 check moves him among the top 25 money earners on the minor-league tour and has him on track to earn another promotion to the PGA Tour in 2013. LaBelle shot 3-under-par 68 for a one-shot victory at Willow Creek Country Club, setting a Utah Championship record by erasing a five-shot deficit in the final round.

MICHIGAN SENIOR CHAMP: Ron Beurmann shot an impressive 6-under 66 by hitting 17 of 18 greens at Bedford Valley in Battle Creek for a three-shot victory over Bob Ackerman at the Club Car Michigan Senior Open. Beurmann is director of golf at the Country Club of Jackon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Indianwood Golf & Country Club ready for the 2012 U.S. Senior Open

The old guys are ready.

And so is the course.

It should be a great weekend at the 2012 U.S. Senior Open, set to tee it up tomorrow through Sunday on the Old course at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich. Golf fans better get out and support the event. If they don't, it sends a message to the United States Golf Association (which runs the Senior Open), the PGA of America and the PGA Tour that southeast Michigan is apathetic to golf. That attitude won't help Oakland Hills Country Club in its bid to host a future major championship. The next major golf event scheduled in Michigan is the 2016 U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills, the likeliest precursor to landing a coveted U.S. Open. No top tournament will come to metro Detroit before it - or after - without a show of support, much like Northern Ireland and Ireland gave for the Irish Open a few weeks ago in its bid to potentially host a British Open.

With or without massive fan support, the show must go on at Indianwood. Let's hope it's a better tournament than the last senior major in Michigan. The 2012 Senior PGA Championship at the Golf Club of Harbor Shores in June showed off another of Michigan's gems of a golf course, but a runaway victory by a little known foreigner, Roger Chapman, didn't do much for TV ratings or buzz in golf circles. If Tom Watson or Fred Couples can get in contention, now that's a different story. They are the two biggest names in town but certainly not the only worthy champions. I wouldn't mind seeing Tom Lehman or Hale Irwin make a charge.

The 6,862-yard, par-70 course should be playing firm and difficult with thick rough and narrow fairways. I'm not in town covering the event unfortunately, but I'll be keeping a close eye on it. Tickets are still available. ESPN2 will televise the first two rounds from 3-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday with NBC taking over the weekend, running from 3-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Michigan Women's Open, Island Resort Championship highlight big week for women's golf in Michigan

For 10 days, the women stole the spotlight of Michigan's golf scene.

Perfect timing, too, because the U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood Golf & Country Club is right around the corner.

Last Wednesday, Katie Burnett used the Michigan Women's Open as her professional debut to prepare for this week's U.S. Women's Open at the American Club in Kohler, Wis.
Crystal Mountain Resort's Mountain Ridge was kind to the 22-year-old from Brunswick, Ga., who recently graduated from South Carolina. She shot a final round 3-under-par 69 for a record-setting 11-under-par 205 total and resounding 10-shot win. It was an impressive show in the 10th anniversary of Crystal Mountain hosting the event (in 19 years).

“I feel pretty awesome right now,” she told tournament PR man Greg Johnson. “I don’t know if I can describe it. It hasn’t quite hit me yet. It gives me a lot of confidence. It was goal of mine to come out and get the confidence and momentum going into the U.S. Open.”

Her 205 was the lowest in tournament history, besting a 10-under performance by 2007 winner Lisa Fernandes. Runner-up Laura Bavaird of Grosse Ile was the only other golfer under par in the 54-hole $36,000 event. Bavaird closed with a 1-over-par 73 for 1-under-par 215, and then headed to Harris, Mich., in the Upper Peninsula for the Symetra Tour's Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass Golf Club at the Island Resort and Casino. She didn't fare so well there against a tougher, more international field, tying for 46th.

Leah Wigger of Louisville, Ky., shot 73-66-70 to finish at 209 to earn $16,500 of the $110,000 prize money. She won by three shots over three players on the 6,286-yard Sweetgrass to cap off the biggest 10 days of the summer for the women.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Drew Preston of Ada wins 101st Michigan Amateur

I'm off to Ireland today for the 2012 Irish Open, so I don't have much time to devote to a full take-out of the 101st Michigan Amateur. I'll leave the storytelling to one of the best golf writers in the state, Greg Johnson. See his story below.
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP – Drew Preston of Ada always looked up to Tom Werkmeister of Kentwood while growing up playing golf in the Grand Rapids area.
“It really couldn’t be scripted better,” he said after topping Werkmeister 2-up in the championship match of the 101st Michigan Amateur Championship on the Oakland Hills Country Club North course Friday afternoon. “It feels awesome to beat a guy like Tom. I remember looking up to him and thinking I want to be able to play with him someday. Now, I’m here, and it’s pretty gratifying.”
Preston, 21, called it a long week. He even dashed to Ohio to take a final exam on the history of Nazi Germany at Bowling Green State University after playing in Monday’s opening round. He has 12 credits remaining at BGSU, but has used up his golf eligibility where he won twice in four years but slumped his final season.
“I been working and going to school and practiced about eight days before this to have a good showing year,” he said. “This was a very hard year in college golf. This is best felt about my game in a long time. I needed it. I do have pro aspirations, but with some of the scores I was shooting there for a while, I was kind of you know, not too sure about it.”
Werkmeister, a 44-year-old internet salesman who won the 2009 Michigan Amateur, struggled with his game on the back nine after playing three consecutive matches with extra holes before the final.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said after losing an early 2-up lead and never trailing until No. 15.“I certainly played rather poorly and gave a lot of holes away. I mean he did what he had to do to win the holes. We both struggled out there on the back. He didn’t struggle as bad.”
Losing to a fellow West Michigan golfer made it easier to take, Werkmeister said.
“I like Drew, he’s a great kid,” he said. “I’ve known him for a handful of years. He has a great family. He’s a really nice kid so I can’t help but feel good for him.”
Preston, who is considering a professional career, took his first lead on No. 15 when Werkmeister played to bogey. At 18, he made a 12-foot birdie putt after hitting a wedge shot from a side-hill lie in the left rough to close out the match.
“It’s so great to win here at Oakland Hills,” Preston said. “I mean, the history here is amazing. To be a champion here – I can’t even get my head around that yet. It will take a while to sink in.”
In the morning semifinals, Werkmeister beat another Grand Rapids area golfer. Brian Hayward battled him for 19 holes before Werkmeister won with a birdie on No. 1.Preston meanwhile, topped his former college teammate, Wes Gates of Novi, 4 and 3. Gates, who is still a BGSU student and golfer, had a highlight shot of the morning. He made a hole-in-one on the fourth hole with a 5-iron shot from 201 yards. It was the third ace of his life, and second while playing golf with Preston.
Semi Finals Match Play Results:
Tom Werkmeister, Kentwood, def. Brian Hayward, Grand Rapids, 19 Holes
Drew Preston, Ada, def. Wesley Gates, Novi 4&3

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sweetgrass Golf Club set for its 2012 Symetra Tour event next week

HARRIS, Mich. – An international field of 144 women golfers will descend on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula next week to compete in the second Island Resort Championship, presented by the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, June 29 – July 1. See photo of the course's island green par-3 above.
The 54-hole stroke-play Symetra Tour event has drawn professional golfers from 25 different countries and six continents to vie for a total $110,000 purse, from South Africa to Australia, Chile to Columbia, England to France, Norway to Japan, the Middle East to Thailand, and beyond.
“Several of the players from last year’s inaugural event have already graduated to the LPGA Tour,” says Susan Harris, co-chair and marketing director for the Island Resort & Casino, host site of the tournament. “Their spots have been filled with the next set of rising talent, ready to fight their way to the top.”
This is the seventh tournament of the Symetra Tour’s 2012 season, as Tour members play for the top 10 spots on the money list to win automatic entry to the LPGA Tour. Players to Watch Defending Champion Stephanie Kim will not be in the final field of 144, leaving the next generation of LPGA stars to capture the honors at Sweetgrass Golf Club, a Golfweek “America’s Best Courses You Can Play” layout.
Marquette High School graduate and Michigan State rising sophomore Carley Saint-Onge, four-time Upper Peninsula Division 1 Champion, has again received an amateur local exemption to compete in the event. Saint-Onge currently plays on the Michigan State golf team. She’ll be joined by two native Michiganders in the 2012 field, including Laura Bayaird of Grosse Ile, Britney Hamilton of Lake Orion – both Western Michigan University graduates. Former Michigan State graduates Allison Duncan and Aimee Neff will also be found on the Friday roster of players.
Wisconsites will cheer for Kenosha’s Carly Werwie, a Wisconsin-Madison graduate. On the international front, Australian Kristie Smith won the Tate and Lyle Players Championship last week, carding three bogeyless rounds. She’ll be in the Sweetgrass field, along with several players who have qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin directly following the Island Resort Championship. Among them are Sue Kim of Canada, Veronica Felibert of Venezuela, Lili Alvarez of Mexico, and Mi Hyang Lee of South Korea.
“I was amazed at the number of under-par rounds I saw on the leaderboard last year,” said Sweetgrass Director of Golf Dave Douglas. “For those who love golf, you’ll enjoy watching the incredible talent in the field.”
A complete list of players in the field has been posted at Tickets are still available for the Island Resort Championship; $10 three-day passes can be purchased at the Island Resort & Casino Showroom or by calling 877-ISL-SHOW, or through several local non-profit organizations who keep the profits from their tickets sales. A complete list can be found at

Friday, June 15, 2012

Berritt Kelpin wins the Michigan Open with impressive performance

It was a record-setting and historic performance that won the Michigan Open this week.
Berritt Kelpin, a 22-year-old Kalamazoo golfer, plowed the field over at the 95th Michigan Open Championship presented by DTE. The recent University of Iowa graduate closed with a 4-under-par 68 Thursday for a resounding 23-under-par 265 tournament total at The Orchards Golf Club in Washington Township. It earned him an $8,000 first-place check as well as the coveted James D. Standish Jr. Trophy and a place in history. His eight-shot margin over runner-up Jeff Cuzzort, a Nationwide Tour player from Grosse Ile, matched the mark set in 1948 by Michigan Golf Hall of Fame legend Chick Harbert, who won the Michigan Open four times, won seven times on the PGA Tour, won the 1954 PGA National Championship and was a Ryder Cup captain.
“Probably a lot of it hasn’t sunk in,” Kelpin said. “It was my first pro event and I played so well and managed to tie that record. It’s kind of surreal right now, but it was a great week. I mean I played well the whole week.”
Andy Ruthkoski, the 2007 Michigan Open champion from Muskegon; mini-tour golfer Willie Mack III of Flint; and low amateur Brian Hayward, a Grand Rapids CPA, tied for third at 14-under-par 274. Clark Klaasen, a mini-tour player from Grand Rapids, was next after shooting a 65, the low round of the day, for 275. Cuzzort, who won $4,800 for second, had three bogeys to start his round, and said he let the nervous Kelpin off the hook.
“I could see he was nervous,” he said. “He had a double-bogey (No. 5 in the hazard), but I just never got anything going. Bogey the first three holes – that’s not what I wanted to do. It’s kind of opposite of what I needed to do to put pressure on.”
Kelpin said the help of his uncle, Greg Gagie, who caddied for him, was a critical factor, and he said he talked on the phone with his teacher, Charley Vandenberg of Thousand Oaks in Grand Rapids, each day of the week.
"I feel like talking with (Charlie) and having my uncle there to calm me down when the going got tough was big,” he said after making 29 birdies and an eagle during the four rounds. “I knew I could win, but I don’t think I really expected this in my first professional event.”
Kevin Helm, the executive director of the PGA, and Ron Dalby, owner of The Orchards, announced that the 2013 Michigan Open will also be played at The Orchards. Kelpin plans to play some mini-tour golf and prepare for PGA Tour Qualifying in the fall.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The North course at Oakland Hills Country Club set to host the 2012 Michigan Amateur

It's hardly "the other course."
But that's how the North course at Oakland Hills Country Club is essentially treated by most golfers. It hasn't hosted the U.S. Open, the Ryder Cup or the PGA Championship like the South has. But club members and golf insiders know the North course is just as strong as its sister, albiet a little shorter and a little more forgiving.
Yet it will still be plenty of a challenge for players in the 101st Michigan Amateur, set for June 18-22. Randy Lewis, the Alma resident who played in The Masters this spring, will return to the course where he won his only Michigan Amateur, way back in 1992.
"It's too bad it's an alternate course to the South. It is one of the best courses in Michigan by far," Lewis said at a recent media day. "It should set up well for match play. There are a lot of good holes. You don't have to kill it (with the driver). It is all about where you place it (the ball)."
The par-70 design will play shorter than most Michigan Amateurs - at roughly 6,700 yards - but Golf Association of Michigan tournament setup man Ken Hartmann, the senior director of rules and competitions for the GAM, said it will give players all they can handle. Tricky slick greens - many are elevated - demand precision. The two par-5s are the course are no gimmees, either.
"No one is going to tear it up," he said about the two-day stroke play event that serves as qualifying for match play. "It is going to be a good test. If you get above the hole, it is going to be dicey."
Follow for day-to-day results.

The Orchards Golf Club set to host the 2012 Michigan Open

The 95th Michigan Open Championship presented by DTE Energy will return June 11-14, 2012 to The Orchards Golf Club in Washington Township.
The Orchards Golf Club is becoming known as metro Detroit's go-to site for tournament golf (outside of Oakland Hills Country Club, of course). The Orchards has hosted a number of Michigan PGA and Golf Association of Michigan events, and most notably was the site for the USGA 2002 National U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship won by current PGA Tour professional Ryan Moore. The picture is of the par-4 18th hole, which plays downhill and over a pond.

“The Orchards Golf Club is extremely pleased and honored to again host The Michigan Open in 2012," Orchards head professional Jeff Stalcup said in a statement. "The course presented a terrific challenge to the players at the 2011 Michigan Open, and we look forward to an even more competitive event this year. Having hosted the 2002 USGA National Amateur Public Links Championship and the 2011 Michigan Open, we are confident that The Orchards will again provide the venue that will result in lasting memories for the players and spectators."

The Michigan Open will feature 156 of the best amateur and professional golfers in Michigan. Randy Hutchison from Traverse City won the event last year with a 16-under par, 272 total, taking home $10,000 and giving him his first Michigan Open victory.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The 2012 Senior PGA Championship at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores celebrates a successful week

By all accounts, it was a successful weekend at the Senior PGA Championship at The Golf Club of Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor.

The event had a surprise, albiet deserving, winner in Roger Chapman, and the crowds were fantastic and enthusiastic. The course looked stunning on HDTV and certainly had to influence a few national viewers to consider visiting the area to tee it up. The message of the Harbor Shores development - millions are being spent to help and redevelop the community - certainly helped the cause.

The tournament, which will return in 2014, gave Michigan golf fans a sneak peak of what to expect in six weeks. The U.S. Senior Open - the biggest of the five senior majors -- will be held at the Old course at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion northwest of Detroit in July.

Here are a few final notes from the 2012 Senior PGA Championship:

A WINNING BRIT: Roger Chapman became the first native of England to win the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid and hoist the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy. He is also the third player from the United Kingdom to earn the Championship title -- Jock Hutchison of Scotland (1937 and 1947) and Fred McLeod (1938) were the first two. Chapman also is the first European to win the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid since Hutchison won his second title, in '47. Chapman is the seventh international player to win the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. The most recent was Denis Watson of Zimbabwe, in 2007.

KIAWAH ISLAND BOUND: With his victory, Chapman earns an exemption into the 94th PGA Championship, the Season's Final Major, to be held Aug. 9-12 at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, S.C. Chapman also earns a lifetime exemption into the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid.

MORE ON ROGER: With his victory, Chapman also ... * Ties Jack Nicklaus (1991 Champion) for the third-best 72-hole aggregate score (271) in the history of the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. The all-time record of 268 is held by Sam Snead, in 1973. * Earns $378,000 from a total purse of $2.1 million. * Becomes the eighth player to make the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid his first title on the Champions Tour. The others who won their first Champions Tour event at this Championship since 1980: Arnold Palmer (1980), Tom Wargo (1993), Doug Tewell (2000), Fuzzy Zoeller (2002), Mike Reid (2005), Denis Watson (2007) and Michael Allen (2009). * Becomes the first Englishman to win on the Champions Tour since Mark James captured the 2007 Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Fla. * Becomes the first European to win a major on the Champions Tour since Bernhard Langer claimed the U.S. Senior Open in 2010 at Sahalee Country Club in Redmond, Wash.

THIRD BRIT TO WIN IN GREAT LAKES STATE: Chapman is the third native of England to win a Champions Tour event. All three earned their lone victories in Michigan -- Tony Jacklin at the 1994 First of America Classic, in Grand Rapids; and Mark James at the 2004 Ford Players Championship in Dearborn.

WIRE TO WIRE?: Chapman led or shared the lead after each round at Harbor Shores. He is the first player to lead outright or share the lead and win the Senior PGA Championship since Hale Irwin in 2004 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. The last player to hold the lead alone after each round and win the Championship was Jack Nicklaus in 1991 at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

TOUGH LUCK: John Cook (69-66-69-69) is the only player to shoot all four rounds in the 60s and not win the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid.

A RECORD DAY FOR PERRY: Kenny Perry's eagle, eight birdies and one bogey added up to a 9-under-par 62 in the final round, the lowest 18-hole score in the history of the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Perry bettered by one stroke the previous single-round Championship record set by Buck White in 1961 and matched by Arnold Palmer in 1984.

GOING REALLY LOW: There were 38 rounds in the 60s during the final round at Harbor Shores, far and away the highest total of the week. The scores in the 60s before today: First Round: 2. Second Round: 21. Third Round: 23. The scoring average for the field today was 69.65, easily the lowest of the four rounds.

ON TO BELLERIVE: The 74th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid will be played May 23-26 at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. This will be the first time that the Championship has been contested in Missouri. The 1992 PGA Champiopnship was held at Bellerive, where Nick Price won by three strokes over John Cook, Nick Faldo, Jim Gallagher Jr. and Gene Sauers.

BRITTON IS LOW PGA CLUB PROFESSIONAL: For the second time in four years, Bill Britton earned Low PGA Club Professional honors in the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Britton, PGA director of instruction at Trump National Golf Club in Colts Neck, N.J., finished the Championship at even-par 284. Britton tied for 35th at Harbor Shores. The finishing scores of the other PGA club professionals who made the cut: Sonny Skinner, Sylvester, Ga., 77-70-69-70 -- 286 (2-over par); Jeff Coston, Blaine, Wash., 76-71-77-67 -- 291; and Tom Atchison, Silver Lake, Ohio, 76-71-72-78 -- 297

17 FOR 17: Hale Irwin tied for third and extended his consecutive cuts streak in the Championship to 17. In addition to winning the Championship four times (second only to Sam Snead all-time), Irwin also has five other top-five finishes in this Championship. Irwin turns 67 on June 3.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The 2012 Senior PGA Championship to tee off at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor this week

The bad news is that one of senior golf's marquee names - Tom Watson - won't be playing this week at Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Watson withdrew with an injured wrist.

But it's still sure to be an exciting week of golf at The Golf Club of Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor. For those of you looking to attend, the pairings for the first two rounds (Thursday, May 24 and Friday, May 25) are set. Among the featured groups are:

* Jeff Sluman, Fred Couples, Kenny Perry
Thursday at 8:10 a.m., 1st Tee
Friday at 1:20 p.m., 10th Tee

* Brad Faxon, Peter Jacobsen, John Cook
Thursday at 8:30 a.m., 1st Tee
Friday at 1:40 p.m., 10th Tee

* Hale Irwin, Andy North, Bob Tway
Thursday at 8:40 a.m., 1st Tee
Friday at 1:50 p.m., 10th Tee

* Tom Wargo, Mike Reid, Scott Simpson
Thursday at 8:30 a.m., 10th Tee
Friday at 1:40 p.m., 1st Tee

* Denis Watson, Craig Stadler, Mark Brooks
Thursday at 8:50 a.m., 10th Tee
Friday at 2 p.m, 1st Tee

* Tom Lehman, Olin Browne
Thursday at 1:20 p.m., 10th Tee
Friday at 8:10 a.m., 1st Tee

* Hal Sutton, Mark Calcavecchia, Larry Mize
Thursday at 1:30 p.m., 10th Tee
Friday at 8:20 a.m., 1st Tee

* Fred Funk, Michael Allen, Bernhard Langer
Thursday at 1:40 p.m., 10th Tee
Friday at 8:30 a.m., 1st Tee

Here are some other news and notes about the tournament.

* This year marks the inaugural playing of the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid in the state of Michigan and the first time that a major golf championship has been conducted in Southwest Michigan. Michigan also will be the venue of another major championship this year on the Champions Tour, when the U.S. Senior Open is played July 12-15, at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion.

* A total of 23 players have won the Senior PGA Championship in their first attempts. That group includes Arnold Palmer (1980), Gary Player (1986), Hale Irwin (1996), Fuzzy Zoeller (2002), and Michael Allen (2009). Allen and Palmer share the distinction of claiming their titles in their debut on the Champions Tour. There are two notable first-timers in the field: Andrew Magee and Tim Thelen. Thelen is a two-time PGA Professional National Champion from College Station, Texas. The member of the European Senior Tour is one of five PGA Professional National Champions in the field -- Barry Evans (2002 National Champion), Jeff Freeman (1999), Darrell Kestner (1996) and J.R. Roth (1993) are the others. Magee, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, makes his Champions Tour debut next week in the 73rd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Magee turns 50 on Tuesday, May 22. Roth also has Michigan ties.

* The 73rd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid is the strongest field in senior golf this year and includes these figures:
32 States represented in the field
17 Major Champions in the field (totaling 30 major championships won)
18 Countries represented in the field
8 Senior PGA Champions in the field
6 Ryder Cup Captains in the field
5 World Golf Hall of Fame members in the field

* Kirk Hanefeld of Acton, Mass., leads a current contingent of 40 PGA club professionals into the field next week. Hanefeld won the 2011 Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship to automatically earn a spot into the field. Local fans will want to watch Lee Houtteman, a Traverse City teaching pro from Glen Arbor.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lee Houtteman of Glen Arbor to tee off at the Senior PGA Championship

The field at the Senior PGA Championship, set for the Golf Club of Harbor Shores May 24-27 in Benton Harbor, will feature 156 players from around the world.

Germany's Bernhard Langer, recovered from 2011 thumb surgery and making his impact felt again in senior golf, heads a list of 36 international players, representing 18 countries, in the 73rd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. But there will also be a Michigander among them. Lee Houtteman of Glen Arbor (see photo above) qualified as one of the 35 club professionals. Houtteman, who is a teaching pro in Traverse City, will have his work cut out for him just to make the cut. His resume is a solid one - see below - but he hardly has the experience of some of the game's top over-50 players. Houtteman's career includes:

* Northern Michigan PGA Teacher of The Year 2005
• Northern Michigan PGA Player of The Year 2005, 2006, 2008
• Northern Michigan PGA Chapter Champion 2005
* Las Vegas Nevada PGA Chapter Champion 1999
• Qualified PGA National Club Professional Championship 1995, 1999 2004, 2006, 2008
• Member Fuller Cup Team 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
• Multiple Top Ten finishes in Michigan Open, Michigan PGA, Michigan Section Match Play
* U.S. Open Local Qualifier Medalist, Birmingham Country Club 2006

There's plenty of star power teeing it up at the Jack Nicklaus course. Langer, 54, missed the Senior PGA Championship a year ago after a freak left-thumb injury suffered in an off-season biking accident. That mishap delayed his return to play until mid-June. Prior to the injury, Langer had finished among the top 25 in three consecutive Senior PGA Championships, including a runner-up finish in 2008. This year, he has posted six top-10 finishes, including two runner-up and one third-place performance.

Defending Champion Tom Watson, who grew up playing summer golf in Northern Michigan, headlines the list of seven past champions playing, including Michael Allen (2009); Jay Haas (2006, '08), Denis Watson; Mike Reid (2005); Hale Irwin (1996, '97, '98, 2004); Tom Lehman (2010); and Tom Wargo (1993).

The Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid is the oldest event on the Champions Tour, originating in 1937 at Augusta National Golf Club at the invitation of the legendary amateur Bobby Jones. The Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid will feature 12 hours of live television coverage on NBC and The Golf Channel, with viewership in more than 130 countries and territories worldwide. Tickets to the 73rd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid are available by visiting

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Golf Association of Michigan holds busy annual meeting

The Golf Association of Michigan's annual meeting on May 7 at Franklin Hills Country Club was a busy one with the usual order of business. Two guest speakers, Rick Smith and Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Alan Mulally, were the biggest hit, however.

Mulally made comparisons between the automotive industry and the golf industry. That is, they have both gone through some tough times in recent years but have managed to persevere and emerge with a better product. Smith, a top golf instructor and managing partner at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, agreed.

“Michigan stayed steady over the past couple of years when other golf states were down,” Smith said in a statement released by GAM. “We had a record year last year at Treetops and I believe the industry is on the upswing.”

As for the GAM business, outgoing president Ron Gaines (TPC of Michigan) passed the torch to incoming GAM President John Schulte of Birmingham Country Club.

In the past year, the GAM has added a GAM iPhone application, created the GAM Scramble tournament and expanded in the Upper Peninsula.

Several GAM members were honored:

* Fritz McMullen of Forest Lake Country Club won the GAM Superintendent of Merit Award. McMullen has been the green superintendent at Forest Lake since 1973.
* Jerry Engle of Watermark Country Club won the GAM Club Representative of the Year Award. Engle is a longtime golfer and member at Watermark Country Club.
* Mark Wilson of Watermark won the GAM Distinguished Service Award. Wilson, the chairman of the PGA Rules of Golf Committee, has been the PGA Professional at Watermark for 30 years. He is a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame and the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame.

The 2011 GAM Players of the Year were also honored:

* Men’s - Randy Lewis (Alma)
* Women’s – Amy Meier (Rochester Hills)
*Senior Women’s – Joan Garety (Ada)
* Senior Men’s – Bill Zylstra (Dearborn Heights)
* Girl’s Junior – Emmie Pietila (Brighton)
* Boy’s Junior – Henry Do (Ypsilanti)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sweetgrass Golf Club prepares for its 2012 Symetra Tour event in June

The balmy spring we've experienced has even jump-started the season way up in Michigan's scenic Upper Peninsula.

The Sweetgrass Golf Club at the Island Resort & Casino in Harris has officially opened for its 2012 season, and is actively preparing for the Island Resort Championship in late June.

Building on the success of last year, the 2012 Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass ticket program has officially launched as well, benefiting more than 50 nonprofit local organizations by giving them the ability to sell golf tournament tickets and keep 100% of the profit.

Three-day passes are now on sale for $10 for the June 29-July 1 Symetra Tour - Road to the LPGA event, via participating regional organizations, which range from local Boy Scout troops to Habitat for Humanity chapters. A complete list of charities currently selling tickets can be found at Children 18 and under can enter the championship gates for free.

“We’re excited to continue the positive momentum and strong community support for our 2012 tournament,” said Tom McChesney, Island Resort & Casino General Manager. “Those community leaders and ticket sales participants became our most avid fans for the inaugural championship, and we can’t wait to see them in the gallery to support these rising professional stars this year.”

The Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass, presented by the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, will welcome 144 professional women golfers to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to vie for a $110,000 purse. This is the second of a three-year commitment by the Tour to bring professional golf to the region.

Participating organizations currently selling 2012 tickets include the Escanaba, Wells and Menominee Lions Clubs; Delta County Youth Association; Marquette United Way; Habitat for Humanity of Menominee River and Boy Scout Troop 466, among others in both Michigan and Northern Wisconsin. A complete list of participating organizations can be found at

Those looking to play Sweetgrass can book overnight stay-and-play rates starting at $95 per night midweek. The popular Perfect Foursome golf package combines golf at Sweetgrass, and the nearby TimberStone and Greywalls courses, starting at $265 per person for three rounds and two nights’ stay, midweek.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Play Golf America day comes to Benton Harbor May 12 to celebrate the 2012 Senior PGA Championship

It's hard to believe the first major golf event in Michigan is just around the corner, the 2012 Senior PGA Championship at the Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor.

The club will host a fun-filled day of free golf and fitness activities during the Play Golf America Day from 1-4 p.m. on May 12 (a Saturday). The first 250 people who register online at and attend the Play Golf America Day will receive a pair of Championship practice round tickets for Tuesday or Wednesday for the practic rounds (one pair of tickets per household).

This free event will feature golf instruction from Michigan Section PGA Professionals and a fitness clinic led by PGA Director of Fitness David Donatucci. The Mercedes-Benz Mobile Performance Center will also be on-site and will feature other fun and interactive experiences for men, women and children. This event will help kick-off the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid as well as Welcome to Golf Month, a national promotion that is designed to create a welcoming atmosphere to encourage new players to try golf throughout the month of May.

Harbor Shores is located at 201 Graham Avenue in Benton Harbor. The phone number is 269-927-4653. Single day and Week-Long tickets to the Championship may be purchased by visiting, or by calling (800) PGA-GOLF (742-4653).

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Golfers from Midland and Jackson awarded spots at Ryder Cup Junior Golf Academy

Today's world is always looking for the next big thing.

Don't pencil these kids in as the next Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam, but they could be your next generation of all-state players from Michigan.

Cameron Lippoldt of Midland, Mich., and Megan Klintworth of Jackson, Mich., representing the Michigan PGA Section, will participate in the 2012 Ryder Cup Junior Golf Academy, originally developed in response to recommendations from past United States Ryder Cup Team Captains, and part of the 2010 Ryder Cup Outreach program.

After a successful debut, the Academy returns July 1-8, at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance in Port St. Lucie, Fla. A total of 84 juniors have been selected to participate.

“We had a tremendously successful first year of the Ryder Cup Junior Academy,” said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski. “I was able to see first-hand the impact this had on a special group of junior golfers from across the country. I am sure that this year will have the same positive impression on the future of our great game.”

The Ryder Cup Junior Academy is a week-long program that emphasizes a variety of skills, including playing and competing in both stroke- and match-play formats, swing mechanics, competitive course management, as well as fitness and physical assessments.

The initiative is designed to expand the outreach of the Ryder Cup and provide aspiring young players an opportunity to experience an elite player development academy, while targeting those who may not have the resources or means to attend. It will also offer the juniors expert instruction from past U.S. Ryder Cup Captains and award-winning PGA Professionals.

As part of the 2010 United States Ryder Cup Team’s charitable commitment — which has already impacted U.S-based charitable organizations and students at colleges and universities nationwide — the team designated a total of $650,000 to create and support the Ryder Cup Junior Golf Academy.

Each of the 41 PGA Sections nationwide were given the opportunity to nominate one boy and one girl each, with the remainder of the juniors selected through an at-large process. Also receiving invitations were boy and girl participants from the Notah Begay III Foundation, Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation, Bill Dickey Scholarship Association, Pan-American Golf Association, and the AJGA Ace Grant Program.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Forest Dunes joins forces with Boyne USA Resorts

There's another reason to book a great golf vacation with one of the three Boyne USA Resorts in northern Michigan this summer.

Golfers staying on any Boyne 2012 golf packages now have the option to add a round of golf at Forest Dunes for significantly discounted rates starting at $59.

Forest Dunes Golf Club is a 7,104-yard, par 72, Tom Weiskopf course that has drawn comparisons to Augusta National and Pine Valley. Forest Dunes was named one of America's Greatest Golf Courses by Golf Digest in 2011/12 and Golfweek listed it among the Best Modern Courses in the publication's 2012 list.

Guests driving to or from Boyne properties along I-75 can easily book a round at Forest Dunes on the first, or last, day of their golf trip. The course is located in Roscommon just 60 miles south of Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls and 90 miles from Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs. Call BOYNE Central Reservations at 800-462-6963 to book.

As good as Boyne's other top courses are - namely Bay Harbor Golf Club designed by Arthur Hills and The Heather designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. - Forest Dunes might be the best of the bunch.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Michigan off to a rousing start to the 2012 golf season

I look out my office window and can't believe what I see.

I see green and sunshine and blooming flowers and budding trees. Last year at this time, all I saw was white snow and black mud.

I haven't hit a tee shot in Michigan yet, but I know dozens of friends who have played a bunch. March was wonderful weather. April has started off a little wetter and colder, but I'm not complaining. Neither are courses south of Lansing. They've seen hundreds of bonus rounds, a real boost to the bottom line.

I have my first tee time set for tomorrow at Eagle Crest Golf Club, the place where I learned the game. I started working there in college and played every day I got the chance. It's where I got hooked on this beautiful game.

I hope the good weather continues. It should be a great season this year. We've got two Champions Tour majors in the state - the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor in May and the U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion in June. The Gaylord Golf Mecca celebrates its 25th anniversary.

I doubt I can top last season on the course. I sank my first hole in one and shot a career low 76, but I sure am going to try.