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 SPGA2012.com.

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 www.sweetgrassgolfclub.com/lpga-2012. 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 http://www.sweetgrassgolfclub.com/lpga-2012.

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.