Written By: Greg Johnson
FARMINGTON HILLS – Cooper Reitsma of Ada had a sizzling summer of low scores.
He shot a 62 at Forest Akers East Golf Course to win the 15-and-under division of the GAM Junior Stroke Play Championship.
He shot a 64 on the Sundance course at A-Ga-Ming Resort in winning the 15-and-under Michigan Junior State Amateur stroke play title and went on to finish as runner-up in match play.
And he felt great about a 67 he shot competing with men in the GAM Championship qualifier at Sunnybrook Country Club in Grandville.
“I’m really pleased with my year,” he said. “Last year I was disappointed with finishing second all the time. I finally broke that barrier this year, got a couple of wins. I’m really proud of the way I played most of the time. People tell you first always feels better after you finish second a few times. They are right. I finally finished first a few times and I felt much better about my golf game and the progress I’m making.”
Reitsma, 15 with a birthday in January, has been named the GAM 15-and-under Junior Boys’ Player of the Year, Alex Clark, director of tournament operations, announced today. It’s the second consecutive year Reitsma has earned the honor by finishing atop the 15-and-under Boys’ Points List.
“Player of the Year is always a great thing to shoot for,” Reitsma said. “Playing well in all the GAM events is a top priority for me, so getting Player of the Year with the GAM is really huge. It’s a by-product of good play and really nice to earn, especially two years in a row.”
A Cascade Hills Country Club member, Reitsma topped the points list with 1,212.5 points.
Troy Nguyen of Macomb and Youth on Course Michigan, winner of the 15-and-under match play at the Michigan Junior State Amateur, was second with 820 points, just ahead of Julian Sinishtaj of Macomb and Youth on Course Michigan, who had 819 points and was the GAM the 14-and-under Match Play champion.
Jack Whitmore of Grand Rapids, a USGA/GAM GC member and the 15-and-under winner at the GAM Junior Invitational, was fourth with 605 points, and JP Levan of Grand Rapids and Kent Country Club rounded out the top five with 583 points.
Player of the Year points can be found on a pull down from the PLAY tab at GAM.org.
In recent weeks Kimberly Dinh of Midland was named the Women’s Player of the Year, August Meekhof of Eastmanville the Men’s Player of the Year, Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll of Haslett the Senior Women’s Player of the Year, Greg Davies of West Bloomfield the Senior Men’s Player of the Year, John Morgan of Novi the Super Senior Player of the Year, Alena Li of Okemos the Junior Girls’ Player of the Year, Lorenzo Pinili of Rochester Hills the Junior Boys’ Player of the Year and Saisha Patil of Okemos the 15-and-under Junior Girls’ Player of the Year. The Players of the Year awards are presented by Carl’s Golfland.
Reitsma, the son of Ray and Tami Reitsma and a student at Grand Rapids Christian, said he will move into the upper age division with confidence next season.
“I have played a lot of great competition from age 12 to 15 but I realize there is even more competition and all the best players in Michigan as I move up,” he said. “I hit it a long way. The strength of my game is my distance, so I know I can compete and have competed against older golfers.”
Reitsma, who is a student of Grand Rapids teaching pro Brandon Roby, said working on his short game has become a priority.
“I am mediocre at chipping and pitching,” he said. “I can overpower golf courses with my distance, but to take advantage I have to get better at the short game.”
Clark said Reitsma is consistent and has a significant future in the game of golf.
“He’s always in the top two or three, and he even mentioned to me once that he had been in the top two or three for about 10 consecutive tournaments,” he said. “Obviously his length off the tee is his calling card, and he can hit fairways and greens and shoot low scores. He’s a great kid, works hard and has all the tools for a tremendous future in the game.”