FARMINGTON HILLS – Laura Bavaird, the Golf Association of Michigan’s director of member relations since April, has announced that sign-up and renewal for GAM membership in 2021 opens on Dec. 2.
“The main goal would be to have individuals renew their current membership,” she said. “This way there is no disruption to the benefits they receive, and in the spring when they are ready to play again all of their GAM/GHIN handicap index requirements have been taken care of for the year.
“Also, it was great to see the golf rounds played increase this summer around the country. We want to make sure any new golfers or people who came back to golf can add even more to their experience by being a GAM member.”
Bavaird understands the list of member benefits first-hand. Over the years she has witnessed them from several angles as a GAM golf member through a club (Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club), as an amateur and professional competitor in tournaments, as an employee of a private club in Michigan (TPC Michigan) and currently as an employee of the GAM.
“You really can’t go wrong by being a GAM member, whether as an individual or through a club, and whether as a tournament player or somebody just out to have fun in the game,” she said. “The GAM is here to serve and grow the game, a game that we all love. There are a lot of people who join because they need the handicap service and don’t realize what else they get. The list of benefits is a lot longer than just the necessary GAM/GHIN handicap.”
Bavaird’s background and knowledge in golf is not that of the average person.
She is a former two-time Michigan Women’s Amateur champion (2007, ’08) and played in multiple GAM tournaments as a junior golfer and through her college years. She was a Miss Golf in Michigan as a senior at Grosse Ile High School in 2004, played collegiate golf at Western Michigan University, was a three-time collegiate tournament winner and in 2008 was the Mid-American Conference Sportswoman of the Year.
She turned professional following college and played four years on the Symetra Tour. Her lone professional win was the Canadian PGA Women’s Championship in 2010, and that earned her a slot in her one LPGA tournament in Montreal.
“I gave professional golf four good years, treating it like high school and college, went through the growing pains and learned what it really meant to be a touring professional,” she said. “I’ve always had a passion for business and understanding business and I was able to take my background in golf and shift to the operational side of the game. It was a perfect transformation for me.”
Bavaird started in the assistant golf professional ranks and worked her way up to head golf professional at Lochmere Golf Club in Cary, N.C. As part of a ClubCorp operation, she transferred to TPC Michigan in Dearborn and served as the membership director there until last spring before joining the GAM.
Chris Whitten, executive director of the GAM, calls the 34-year-old Bavaird a homerun-hire for the association and its members.
“Laura is someone I’ve known of for a long time but didn’t have an opportunity to spend time with her until an opening on our team became available,” he said. “As I learned about her background more and more it was clear she was a good fit in every possible way.”
Whitten is pleased this year’s membership efforts are also aimed at golfers who were new to golf or came back to the game in 2020.
“We are coming off a great in-person golf season,” he said. “The game experienced all this great momentum with new golfers but also a lot of returning golfers. Since a lot of people used to play, and then took a break from the game for life or work, now that they had a chance to come back perhaps they will want to add benefits and other features to their enjoyment of the game, especially a handicap index.”