FARMINGTON HILLS – Cooper Reitsma of Ada finished second in the 15-and-under division of three significant junior golf tournaments over the summer – the GAM 14-and-under Match Play Championship, the GAM Junior Stroke Play Championship and the GAM Junior Invitational – but he said he was only marginally frustrated.
“I wasn’t fully frustrated because being second made me realize I was capable of winning,” he said. “It means I have to wait another year for that, but it’s coming.”
Reitsma, who was the 15-and-under Michigan Junior State Amateur Stroke Play winner, has been named the GAM 15-and-under Junior Boys’ Player of the Year, Kyle Wolfe, director of junior golf 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. In November Nick Krueger of Spring Lake was named the Men’s Player of the Year, Kimberly Dinh of Midland was named the Women’s Player of the Year, Steve Maddalena of Jackson was named the Senior Men’s Player of the Year, Julie Massa of Holt was named the Senior Women’s Player of the Year and Randy Lewis of Alma was named the Super Senior Player of the Year.
Last week Drew Miller of East Lansing was named the Junior Boys’ Player of the Year and earlier this week Sophie Stevens of Highland was named the Junior Girls’ Player of the year. The GAM will announce its final Player of the Year, the girls’ 15-and-under selection, early next week. The Players of the Year awards are presented by Carl’s Golfland.
“It means a lot to win this,” Reitsma said. “It shows my hard work. I put a lot into it and even though I didn’t pull off (wins), I have all those top finishes and I played well in all those events.”
Those multiple top finishes helped Reitsma, who is 14 and a GAM member through Cascade Hills Country Club in Grand Rapids and Youth on Course Michigan. He earned 1,325 points, which made him a runaway leader in the points standings for 15-and-under boys.
Ian Masih of Okemos and Youth on Course Michigan, who won the 15-and-under title in the GAM Junior Kickoff to start the year and did the same in the GAM Junior Invitational to end the season, was second with 520 points.
JP Levan of Grand Rapids and Kent Country Club had a series of top finishes for third place with 477 points. Leandro Pinili of Rochester Hills and Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club, the Michigan Junior State Amateur 15-and-under champion, was fourth with 470 points, and Isaac Scavarda of Kalamazoo and Youth on Course Michigan, the match play runner-up to Pinili in the Michigan Junior State Amateur, was fifth with 430 points.
Cooper, the youngest of three children of Ray and Tami Reitsma, has been playing golf since age 3. He has loved the game from the start.
“I got out on the course as much as I could right away,” he said.
He plans to keep working on his game and hopes to build a future around it.
“I want to play golf at a Division I college, somewhere warm, and after that get a PGA Tour card ideally,” he said. “That’s the dream.”
The freshman at Grand Rapids Christian High School said his approach shots are the strongest part of his game, and that putting is the weakest.
“I averaged 15 greens in (regulation) this year, so that was great,” he said. “My putting, I feel like I’m getting a little better and hoping it shows next season and helps me post far lower scores. I’m very close to where I want to be, especially with my swing. As I keep growing I think I will hit it farther and hit more wedges in tight.”
Wolfe said Reitsma had a great season.
“I am sure Cooper will say he didn’t achieve all of his goals during the year in terms of winning GAM tournaments, but there is something to be said about always being in contention to have a chance at winning and Cooper definitely did that,” he said. “In the moment he was disappointed but he displayed great determination to come back for the next tournament and play well. I think he is going to be more determined than ever to have a great year in 2023.”