In photo: Neil Nelson of Northville, left, and Jeffrey Talcott of Brownstone Township hold the permanent plaque for the championship.
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP – Neil Nelson of Northville and Jeffrey Talcott of Brownstone Township, roommates at the University of Michigan in the late 1980s, teamed up on the golf course to win the Fifth GAM Net Chapman Championship presented by the Rocket Mortgage Classic Thursday at The Orchards Golf Club.
“When I hit a bad shot, Jeff hit a good shot and when he hit a bad shot, I hit a good shot,” Nelson said. “We made a great team today.”
Nelson and Talcott shot a net 8-under 64, which was one shot clear of three teams shooting 65 in the unique team format that is played with handicap indexes factoring in a formula for the scoring.
The Orchards, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design and one of the state’s top public golf courses, hosted the championship for the second consecutive year and 40 teams competed.
Greg Fisher of Chesterfield and Steven Marques of Richmond, who were the defending champions in the tournament, were one of the teams shooting 65 and declared the runner-up in a card playoff.
Gregory Messer of Almont and Kenneth Metcalf of Dearborn Heights were the 65 shooters who placed third in the playoff. Kevin Tuczek of St. Clair Shores and Dustin Leslie of Ferndale were the other duo that shot 65.
The teams consisted of men or women playing as partners. Each player plays from the teeing ground and then each plays the partner’s ball for the second shot. After the second shot, the partners select one ball with which they wish to score. They play alternately to complete the hole.
The Orchards, cornerstone of a 525-acre residential and golf community, has played host to three Michigan Open Championships and a U.S. Public Links Championship.
Nelson, 53, said his 54-year-old teammate had a hot putter.
“We made a couple of big birdies on par 3s,” he said. “I stuck the tee shot and I don’t think he missed a makeable putt all day.”
The duo has played in all five of the Chapman events and team up for the Team Net Championship, too. They finished second in the Team Net in 2012.
“We only had runner-up trophies, so we finally got the championship,” he said. “It’s interesting we did it in the Chapman. The best I think we’ve done in it is probably 15th place before this. It’s really a tough partner format. It makes you either love your partner or hate him and last year there was some hate going on. Today, the chemistry was just there. We came through for each other.”
The duo shot 6-over par gross on the front but played the last seven holes in even par gross.
“I made a comeback putt, just a few feet on the last hole, but it had to sneak in the edge and we avoided having to go to a playoff,” Nelson said. “The Chapman format is fun. We had a blast and I really appreciate the GAM for having these events for the non-elite players. We know our place in the game, so having events, trophies, rules officials, it’s just an awesome experience for guys like us who want to compete.”
Nelson, who teaches part-time at the University of Michigan, said spring and summer are all about golf for him.
“The weather has been bad, but I qualified for the (GAM Golf Days) championship at Indianwood (Golf & Country Club) in the event at St. Clair (Golf Club), I was a semifinalist last week in the Net Match Play and now with Jeff I win this,” he said. “It’s been a good spring, and it was really great to win with one of my closest friends today.”