FARMINGTON HILLS – Julie Massa of Holt changed putters this year, in the middle of the season no less and changed styles going from her usual blade putter to a mallet.
“That’s very unusual for me, I’ve probably only used three or four putters my entire life,” she said. “My putting and chipping are the strength of my game, certainly the consistent part of my game normally. I qualified for the (U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur in Alaska) with a blade putter, but then I didn’t play well up there, didn’t putt well, and changed after that.”
After the switch Massa found her usual consistency again and won the Michigan Women’s Senior Amateur Championship which propelled her to the top of the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) Points List for senior women. It’s a familiar spot for 59-year-old Massa, who has been named the GAM Senior Women’s Player of the Year for the seventh time in the last eight years, Ken Hartmann senior director of competitions and USGA services for the GAM, announced today.
Player of the Year point totals can be found on a pull down from the PLAY tab at GAM.org. Last week Nick Krueger of Spring Lake was named the Men’s Player of the Year and Kimberly Dinh of Midland was named the Women’s Player of the Year, and earlier this week Steve Maddalena of Jackson was named the Senior Men’s Player of the Year. Over the next few weeks the GAM will announce more Players of the Year in gender and age categories. The Players of the Year are presented by Carl’s Golfland.
Massa’s late-season win in the Michigan Women’s Senior Amateur, a Senior Division win in the GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship and finishing second in the GAM Women’s Senior Championship helped the Forest Akers Golf Course member total 580 points for the season.
Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll of Haslett, the women’s head golf coach at Michigan State University, Country Club of Lansing member and a first-year senior at age 50, finished second with 520 points. She won the GAM Women’s Senior Championship and made a run in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur before falling in the match play round of 32.
Shelly Weiss of Southfield and a GAM member through the Michigan Women’s Golf Association was third with 283 points. Lori Schlicher of Lewiston and Garland Lodge & Resort (225 points) and Joan Garety of Ada and Egypt Valley Country Club (193) rounded out the top five.
Massa, an Oregon native, used the same fitted blade putter for several years but was forced to change in 2019.
“My clubs were stolen when I was in Oregon that year and I feel like I haven’t found the right putter since then,” she said. “This is the first time I’ve tried a mallet style putter in competition. I’ve fiddled around with them before, but never took them on the course. I putted consistently, at least in the Michigan Women’s Senior.”
Massa beat Susie Keane of Orlando, Fla., a Michigan resident in the summer, in 20 holes in the title match at Sugar Springs Golf Club in Gladwin. That’s also where she shot 69 in stroke play qualifying, which she said was her best round of the summer.
“I played really well in qualifying and somewhat consistent the rest of the tournament,” she said. “I still had some moments with the putter, and I felt fortunate to get through some tough matches.”
Massa said the competition seems tougher each year, and especially this year when Slobodnik-Stoll joined the senior ranks.
“I like that because I think better competition helps me be better, plus I really enjoy playing and competing with Stacy,” she said. “I’ve known her and played with and against her for a long time. She’s such a great player.”
Massa said motivation is the key for her in getting out to practice and to continue to work on her game.
“It doesn’t get easier, but I still like to practice chipping and putting and probably should do it even more,” she said. “I love playing in tournaments. Alaska was kind of a bucket list thing. Winning Player of the Year isn’t the major goal at the start of the year, but it is a wonderful reward for a good season.”
Hartmann called Massa the model of consistency.
“She knows how to manage her game, hits it straight, has a great short game and gets the ball in the hole,” he said. “I haven’t really seen any fall-off from year to year. She keeps working at her game, and she is also pleasant to be around, has a great disposition. You never really see her upset. She acts like championship golfers should act.”