GAM GREATS ON TOUR: Follow Former GAM Members in the Professional Ranks

Pictured: Ryan Brehm, who is on the PGA Tour.

It is no secret that Golf Association of Michigan tournaments feature some of the best amateur golfers in the state, and that many GAM alumni have turned professional and are playing on various tours.

This year’s Michigan Links Course Directory features a cover story about two such players; Brian Stuard who notched his first PGA Tour win in 2016 and Sarah Hoffman who is playing full-time on the Symetra Tour this year and hopes to work her way up to the LPGA Tour.

While you wait for this year’s Michigan Links – which began arriving in mailboxes around April 1 - here are some of the former GAM players who will be competing professionally in 2017. Cheer them on this season!

Ryan Brehm

Twitter: @brehmrya

Hometown: Mount Pleasant, MI

College: Michigan State University

The GAM Connection: Runner-up 2006 Michigan Amateur  . . .Won 2007 Michigan Amateur Championship with a 2 & 1 win over MSU teammate Steve Cuzzort in the match play final.

Professional Life: 2016 WinCo Foods Portland Open champion Web.Com Tour and secured his PGA TOUR card with that victory . . .  First MSU Spartan golfer in history to earn a PGA tour card  . . . 2016 official world golf ranking 229 . . . 2016 Web.Com Tour T3 finish at Chitmacha Louisiana Open; T9 finish Rust-Oleum Championship; T7 at Ellie Mae Classic; T3 News Sentinel Open . . . 2015 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada T2 Great Waterway Classic; T4 Cape Breton Celtic Classic; T8 Freedom 55 Financial Championship . . .4th on Web.com Tour money list 2016 . . .14 eagles in 2016.

Highlight Reel: PING All-Midwest Region Team 2004-05 . . . First player in MSU history to win Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors 2005 . . . First amateur since 1966 to make the cut at the Buick Open in 2005 . . . Michigan Mr. Golf 2003 . . . three time All-State dream team Mount Pleasant High School . . . MHSAA Division 2 medalist 2000, 2001, 2003 . . .Ranks first all-time in MSU history with 73.26 career stroke average . . . three-time Michigan Open Champion.

When he’s not golfing: Hunting and boating in Northern Michigan.

Quips & Quotes: “It’s been a long journey and I wasn’t sure I would ever get (to the PGA Tour). “

 

Jennifer Elsholz

Twitter: @Jenn_Eyy

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

College: University of Toledo

Favorite Club: Putter

Favorite Sport Other than Golf: Tennis

GAM Connection: Won the Michigan Women’s Amateur and GAM Women’s Championships in 2014 to earn GAM Women’s Player of the Year honors making her one of five golfers to win both tournaments in the same year in state history.

Professional Life: Received a sponsor’s exemption to the 2015 Tullymore Classic . . .4th at the 2016 Ohio Women’s Open with her mom as her caddie . . . plans to play in as many Symetra Tour events as possible in 2017 and work toward playing full time on that tour.

Highlight Reel: Helped Forest Hills Eastern to a Division 3 title in 2010…Posted nine consecutive wins on 2008 Top 50 Junior Tour. . . All-State Golf and All-State tennis honors 2009. . . Helped Michigan to an eighth-place tie at the 2015 USGA Women’s State Team Championship . . . started playing when she was seven but “never actually liked playing much” preferring tennis and volleyball. Started playing competitively when she tried out for her high school team.

When She’s Not Golfing: Playing other sports, reading, writing.

Quips & Quotes: “I’m not playing for the team anymore, I’m playing for myself so the pressure is on because if you don’t play well you don’t get paid for the week.”

 

Joey Garber

Twitter: @garberjoey

Hometown: Petoskey, MI

College: University of Georgia / University of Michigan

The GAM Connection: Won the Michigan Amateur and Michigan Junior Amateur in 2010 making him the first player to win both titles the same year and the second player to win both titles . . .GAM Junior Player of the Year 2008 & 2009.

Professional Life: 19th at 2015 Great Waterway Classic Mackenzie Tour . . . 13th at 2016 Barracuda Championship PGA TOUR . . . 10th at Albertsons Boise Open on the Web.com Tour.

Highlight Reel: Helped U of M to first NCAA Regional title in program’s history . . . Made the cut at the 2007 Michigan Open as a 15-year-old making him the youngest player in history to do so . . . Michigan Mr. Golf 2009 & 2010 . . . 2010 MHSAA Division 2 State Finals medalist . . . Holds Petoskey High School single-round record with a 66 in the second round of the 2006 state finals.

When he’s not golfing: Watching Detroit sports.

 

Brendan Gielow

Twitter: @brendangielow

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

College: Wake Forest University

The GAM Connection: Advanced to the second round of match play 2005 Michigan Amateur.

Professional Life: Part of the champion 2009 Walker Cup team . . . 2016 earned status at the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament No. 4 . . . won the Cowans Ford Classic on the eGolf Tour 2010.

Highlight Reel: Two-time Michigan Mr. Golf 2004 & 2005 . . . advanced to match play at the US Amateur 2007 . . . 2010 Byron Nelson Award . . . 2010 ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year.

When he’s not golfing: Watching the Detroit Red Wings; playing hockey; eating pizza; going to Disney World.

Quips & Quotes: “I probably have too many superstitions to list but I do always use a Walt Disney World ball marker.”

 

Britney Hamilton

Twitter: @thebritneyham

Hometown: Lake Orion, MI

College: Western Michigan University

GAM Connection: 2009 Michigan Women’s Amateur Champion . . . 3rd at 2007 GAM Championship; tied for 3rd at the same event in 2010.

Professional Life: T17th in her rookie 2012 year on the Symetra Tour at the Northeast Delta Dental International. . . Made the cut 11 times in 2015 out of 19 events.

Highlight Reel: First player in WMU history to qualify for the NCAA Championship (2011). . . Broke eight Bronco’s scoring records while at WMU. Two-time All-MAC First-Team selection; two-time All-MAC Tournament Team selection; Two-time Michigan High School All-State selection.

When She’s Not Golfing: Reading, photography, and snowboarding.

 

Matt Harmon

Twitter: @mattharmongolf

Hometown: Grand Haven, MI

College: Michigan State University

The GAM Connection: Sweet 16 2005 Michigan Amateur . . . stoke play medalist at 2004 Michigan Amateur Championship.

Professional Life: 2012 finished 2nd at TPC Stonebrae Championship Web.com Tour . . . 2015 T8 Great Waterway Classic Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada.

Highlight Reel: Qualified for US Amateur in 2006 & 2004 . . .PING All-Midwest Region Team 2005 . . . Michigan Mr. Golf 2002.

When he’s not golfing: Following the Detroit Tigers and MSU Spartans; listening to Eric Church.

 

Justin Hicks

Twitter: @JustinHicks2010

Hometown: Wyandotte, MI

College: University of Michigan

Professional Life: 2016 Official World Golf Raking 733 . . . 2016 T10 finish at AT&T Byron Nelson  . . . 2014 Runner Up Barracuda Championship . . . 2010 BMW Charity Pro-Am champion 2010 . . . Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic champion 2008.

 

Sarah Hoffman

Hometown: Saline, MI

College: Grand Valley State

Favorite Club: Ping G2i CRAZ-E 

Favorite Sport Other than Golf: Basketball

GAM Connection: Beat the #1 seed in the first round of match play at the 2010 Michigan Women’s Amateur after winning a 5-way playoff for the final match play spot. Advanced to the quarterfinals where she lost to Christine Meier.  . . 2014 GAM Women’s Championship T2nd place.

Professional Life: Received sponsor’s exemption into the Volvik Championship at her home club Travis Pointe CC in 2016.

Highlight Reel: GLIAC Women’s Golf Athlete of the Year 2012 . . . All-American at GVSU as a senior . . . Four consecutive City of Ann Arbor Women’s Amateur Championships . . .Finished second among individuals and helped Michigan’s three-woman team to an eighth-place tie at the USGA Women’s State Team Championship in 2015.

When She’s not Golfing:  Working out, playing racquetball or platform tennis, spending time with family and friends, watching movies and reading. “I’m a sucker for Big Brother and any Bachelor show!”

Quips & Quotes: “My first USGA tournament was the 2015 Women’s State Team. I was playing a par 3 on the back nine and decided to hit a wedge off the tee. I remember thinking I was going to have a close birdie putt when (GAM Director of Rules & Competitions) Ken (Hartmann) started yelling for the ball to go in. There was heather and thick weeds between myself and the green so I never saw it and I was thinking ‘There is no way that went in’ and then everyone started cheering. That was my second hole-in-one but my first in competition.”

 

Clark Klaasen

Twitter: @clarkklaasen

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

College: Duke University

The GAM Connection: T4 at GAM Championship 2007

Professional Life: Runner-up 2015 Dakota Dunes Open.

Highlight Reel: Runner-up Kent County Amateur 2007.

When he’s not golfing: Fishing

 

Laura Kueny

Twitter: @THELITTLELOU10

Hometown: Whitehall, MI

College: Michigan State University

GAM Connection: 5th at GAM Women’s Championship in 2009.

Professional Life: Tied for 16th at the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial 2016 . . . 2015 tied for 2nd at the same tournament and made 10 cuts out of 18 events.  . . Two professional wins: 2013 Symetra Classic and 2011 Michigan Open.  . . Playing professional golf since 2010.

Highlight Reel: Two-time Michigan Miss Golf . . . Division 3 State Champion 2005 & 2006 . . .Trans National Golf Association Championship 2007 . . . Runner up 2009 Michigan Women’s Open . . . Big-Ten Golfer of the Year 2010 . . .Three time All-Big Ten selection.

When She’s not Golfing: Ice skating, luging, running, working out, watching movies, cooking, watching sports – especially basketball – and photography. She admits to being a bit of a weather geek.

 

Willie Mack III

Twitter: @Willie_Mack_III

Hometown: Grand Blanc

College: Bethune-Cookman University

The GAM Connection: 100th Michigan Amateur champion 2011 making him the first African-American to win the title . . . 2010 Runner-Up GAM Championship.

Professional Life: FPGA five top-10 finishes including championship at 2016 Daytona Beach Open and Pro-Am.

Highlight Reel: 2006 American Junior Golf Association Buick Junior champion . . .Youngest champion in the history of the Flint City Amateur.

Quips & Quotes: “I really did enjoy playing in those GAM events. And I still see a lot of players from those events out here playing professionally.”

Lindsey McPherson

Twitter: @lmcpherson24

Website: www.lmcphersongolf.com

Hometown: Flushing, MI

College: Michigan State University

Favorite Club: Driver

Favorite Sport Other Than Golf: Softball

GAM Connection: Lost to MSU teammate Christine Meier in 19 holes in the first round of match play at the 2010 Michigan Women’s Amateur. . . Advanced to “Sweet 16” match play at the 2012 Michigan Women’s Amateur.  . . Runner up at the 2014 Michigan Women’s Amateur and GAM Championship.

Professional Life: Finished 3rd at the US Open Qualifier at Oak Park Country Club in River Grove, IL May 2016. . . T6th at the Michigan Open at Crystal Mountain June, 2016.  . . Runner up at the Tennessee Open July 2016 at Stonehenge GC in Crossville . . . Six top-10 finishes on the NWGA Tour in 2016. . . Hoping to earn a spot on the Symetra Tour in 2017.

Highlight Reel: First Team All-State 2009 for Flint Powers High School. . . .Helped Powers to Division 3 state titles in 2007 and 2008. . . Won the Midwest Collegiate Amateur Series event at Forest Akers in 2013. . . Academic All-Big Ten her junior and senior years at MSU; earned the team’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award in 2014 and 2015. . . started playing golf her sophomore year of high school because she was looking for a sport to play in the fall.

When She’s Not Golfing: Fishing, boating, hiking, kayaking or anything outdoors. Watching The Food Network and listening to country music – especially Chris Stapleton, Thomas Rhett and her all-time favorite Shania Twain. “I’ve even named my acoustic guitar ‘Shania’.”

Quips & Quotes: “I love being outdoors and the calm I feel when I’m fishing or just hanging out in Northern Michigan. It is a feeling of release. I don’t need to think about important things like golf; I can just focus on the sun shining off the water or the way the pine trees blow in the wind. I’m not sure if it is inspiration I get from outdoors or if it is just letting my brain shut off and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.”

Christine Meier

Hometown: Rochester Hills, MI

College: Michigan State University

Favorite Club: 50-degree wedge

Favorite Sport Other than Golf: Basketball

GAM Connection: Michigan Women’s Amateur Champion in 2011 and 2013. . . Named 2009 GAM Player of the Year, the same year she was the GAM Women’s Championship winner. . . Meier has played in many GAM tournaments as an amateur including the Michigan Women’s Amateur in 2010 when she defeated her sister Amy 1 up in the match-play semifinal and lost to MSU teammate Natalie Brehm 4&3 in the final.

Professional Life: In her first year on the Symetra Tour in 2014, Meier played in 11 events and made seven cuts.  T19th at the Symetra Classic 2016.

Highlight Reel: 2009 Michigan Miss Golf . . . MHSAA Division 1 Individual Champion and helped Rochester High School to state titles 2008 & 2009.

When She’s Not Golfing: Spending time with friends relaxing, having fun and watching sports.

Quips & Quotes: “I always enjoyed the Women’s Amateur the most of any GAM tournament because it is the longest and you really have to grind and play well all week to win.”

 

Liz Nagel

Twitter: @LIZNAGEL1

Web: http://www.liznagelgolf.com

Hometown: DeWitt, MI

College: Michigan State University

Favorite Sport Other Than Golf: “If the Spartans are playing, I will be watching.”

Favorite Club: Putter

GAM Connection: At age 13 became the youngest player to qualify for the Michigan Women’s Amateur match play. . . Snared medalist honors in the stroke-play portion of the Michigan Women’s State Am in 2010, 2012 & 2013. . . In 2011 defeated her MSU coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll 4&3 in the first round of match play at the Michigan Women’s Am.

Professional Life: Earned LPGA tour card with conditional status in first attempt through LPGA qualifying school for 2015 season. . . Qualified for the US Women's Open as an LPGA Rookie in 2015. . . Went on to make the cut at the Open and 2 other cuts on the LPGA in 2015. . . Three career top 10s on the Symetra Tour. . . 3 LPGA tournament starts in 2015.  

Highlight Reel: Won the MSHAA Division II state championship as a sophomore and as a junior  . . . Led DeWitt HS to a Division II state title in 2007….Michigan Miss Golf 2007 and 2008. . .First Team All-Big Ten as a senior at MSU . . . Three time Academic All-Big Ten . . . Helped lead MSU to three consecutive trips to the NCAA Championships . . . 2014 Kim Moore Spirit Award.

When She Is Not Golfing:  “I love to shop, watch movies (especially Harry Potter), spending time at home with my family and our goldendoodle, Dolly, drinking coffee, baking, cooking, watching MSU sports!”

Quips & Quotes: “A lot of golf fans watch the PGA and LPGA players and think their lives are glamorous. But on the Symetra Tour it is more like driving a fully-packed Jeep around the country and staying with host families or the local Best Western. Missing out on friends’ weddings and family gatherings is also tough. Luckily, I have an amazing support system behind me at home so they try and send me pictures and keep me up to date as possible.”

 

Drew Preston

Twitter: @dpreston9

Hometown: Ada, MI

College: Bowling Green State University

The GAM Connection: Michigan Amateur Champion 2012.

Professional Life: 15th at 2014 PC Financial Open.

Highlight Reel: All-State Super Team 2007, 2008 Forest Hills Central High School . . . Tied low final round and course record at the AJGA Midwest Junior Players Championship (67).

When he’s not golfing: Watching the Detroit Lions and Detroit Red Wings.

 

Gabrielle Shipley

Twitter:@golfin_gabs23

Hometown: Hastings, MI

College: Grand Valley State University

Favorite Club: Driver

Favorite Sport Other than Golf: Football

GAM Connection: Won the 9th GAM Junior Team Championship in the Girls Division with Heather Marks . . . advanced to the “Sweet 16” of the 99th Michigan Women’s Amateur with a 4&3 defeat of Elayna Bowser 2015 . . . advanced to match-play semifinal of the Michigan Girl’s Junior State Amateur 2011.

Professional Life: Two Symetra Tour starts in 2016…hopes to earn a spot on the Symetra Tour in 2017.

Highlight Reel: Team MVP at Hastings HS all four years . . . MHSAA Division 3 All-State honors all four years . . .MHSAA Division 3 State Champion 2011 . . . helped lead Hastings HS to Division 3 State Championship in her sophomore, junior and senior years . . . WGCA All-America First Team honors; 6th in GVSU women’s golf history . . . GLIAC Women’s Golf Athlete of the Year 2016 . . . broke GVSU's 36-hole scoring record with a 3-under-par 141 (70-71) at the Merrimack Invitational 2015 ... set the school's 54-hole scoring record with an even-par 216 (72-72-72) at the GLIAC Championship 2016…Individual Champion at 2016 NCAA Women’s Golf National Championships . . .advanced to the round of 32 at the U.S. Women’s Am 2016 . . . 71 birdies as a senior at GVSU; fourth in Division II and tying the single-season school record . . . hone-in-one at NCAA Regionals 2016 for her first ace in a tournament.

When She’s Not Golfing: Visiting family, watching TV or binging on Netflix.

Quips & Quotes: “Winning the (NCAA) National Championship absolutely helped me transition from college golf to professional golf. Professional golf is tougher in terms of competition, courses and time commitments. When the times get rough, it is nice to have such a wonderful reminder that I can win and I can be the best. Winning the National Championship gave me that.”

Brian Stuard

Hometown: Jackson, MI

College: Oakland University

GAM Connection:  T2nd 84th GAM Championship 2005 . . .Final four at the 94th Michigan Amateur where he lost to Patrick Wilkes-Krier 4&2 in the semi-final round of match play.

Professional Life: Won his first PGA Tour event in 2016 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. He was the only player go to bogey free at that tournament . . .161st official world golf ranking . . .ranked 4thin driving accuracy percentage 76.84% . . .2nd 2012 South Georgia Classic . . . T16 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational 2016 . . . T21 Deutsche Bank Championship 2016.

Highlight Reel: Inducted into the Oakland University Hall of Honor April 2016 . . .First player in OU history to earn individual medalist honors at the Mid-Continent Conference Championship 2005 . . .

Quips & Quotes: “When you leave and travel around, people ask where you’re from and if you’re from Michigan, their reaction is, ‘That is such a great place for golf!’”

Samantha Troyanovich

Twitter: @SamTroyanovich

Hometown: Grosse Pointe Shores, MI

College: Tulane University

Favorite Golf Club: 54-degree wedge

GAM Connection: 2006 Michigan Junior Girls Amateur Champion.

Professional Life: T52nd at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic 2016. .. Made LPGA debut with Sarah Hoffman at the Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club 2016. . . Earned a spot in the LPGA event through a qualifier at Eagle Crest Golf Club in Ypsilanti where she shot a 3-under 69 . . . T9 MWGA Victoria Hills Tournament 2016 . . . T6 MWGA Forest Lake Tournament 2016 . . .6th Suncoast Tournament at Mission Hills CC 2014

Highlight Reel: Team MVP as a junior in high school . . . 2007 Michigan Junior Girls PGA Champion. . . Qualified for the U.S. Women’s Am 2009 . . . fourth player in Tulane history to notch an ace on hole 14 at the Arizona Wildcat Tournament 2009. . . Member of Tulane NCAA National Championship team 2009, 2010 . . . Two-time All-Conference USA Second Team 2009, 2010 . . .2012 NGCA Division I recipient of the Kim Moore Spirit Award . . .2012 Illinois Women’s Open Champion.

When She’s Not Golfing: “I love being outside with family and friends. Music festivals, setting up sand volleyball at the beach or paddle boarding. I also really love cooking for everyone and seeing my friends and family happy and enjoying time together.”

Quips & Quotes: “I’ve been playing golf my whole life – my mom and dad both play – but I really hated it until I was 16. I was a four-sport varsity athlete in high school and golf took the back burner until I decided to play on our boys team my junior year.”

 -Susan Smiley smiley@gam.org

 

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