Written By: Greg Johnson
FARMINGTON HILLS – Starting this year the winners of four Michigan amateur golf championships conducted by the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) will receive more than trophies, honor and their name etched in the state’s golf history.
The United States Golf Association (USGA) has announced changes to its championship qualifying process, including exemptions for state champions, which means the winners of the Michigan Amateur Championship and Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship will earn exemptions into the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur, respectively, and the winners of the Michigan Girls’ Junior State Amateur Championship and Michigan Junior State Amateur Championship will earn exemptions for the U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur and U.S. Junior Amateur, respectively. Note, Michigan residency is required for entry into the four state championships.
Previously, the champions of the four Michigan tournaments had to compete in qualifiers with other qualified golfers to earn starting spots in those four USGA national championships. Over the past three years, those four Michigan championships have achieved a World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR) in the top half among all Amateur Golf Associations in the country, which made them eligible for the exemptions.
The USGA also announced the qualifying process for the men playing in the U.S. Amateur has changed. Starting this year it will be mirrored after the U.S. Open qualifying process where there will be two stages of qualifying – Local Qualifying and Final Qualifying.
Of special note to Michigan golfers, also starting in 2024, the quarterfinalists in the Michigan Amateur – providing they have entered the national championship by the May 29 deadline – are exempt from Local Qualifying and move directly to Final Qualifying.
The GAM will host one of 45 Local Qualifying tournaments for the U.S. Amateur on July 1 at Oakland University’s Katke-Cousins course in Rochester.
The GAM will host a U.S. Women’s Amateur Local Qualifier on July 9 at the University of Michigan Golf Course in Ann Arbor.
The U.S. Junior Amateur is being hosted in Michigan this year by Oakland Hills Country Club, July 22-27. The Local Qualifier is scheduled for June 10 at Country Club of Lansing.
The U.S. Junior Girls’ Local Qualifier is June 17 at Forest Akers West Golf Course/Michigan State University in East Lansing.
Ken Hartmann, senior director of competitions and USGA services for the GAM, said in order for golfers to be eligible to take advantage of exemptions they earn in the Michigan championships they must have entered the USGA championship by each tournament’s entry deadline.
“They are not going to allow a late entry even though you earned the exemption,” he said. “Essentially you have to enter both the Michigan championship and the national championship by the deadlines to take advantage of the exemptions.”
The 2024 USGA Qualifier Schedule in Michigan has been finalized. The GAM will be conducting over a dozen 18-hole qualifiers for national championships. All registration for USGA Qualifiers, as well as entry eligibility information, can be found at USGA.org.
GAM tournament and GAM Golf Day registration starts Feb. 14 at 10 a.m. The GAM Tournament and GAM Golf Day schedules can be viewed on GAM.org, with information on registration opening dates for each event included. All registration for GAM Tournaments and GAM Golf Days is conducted through Golf Genius. To register, you must have an active GAM Membership and have created a GAM Golf Genius account. Learn more at GAM.org.
Michigan golfers have fared well at the national level over the last two decades.
Kimberly Dinh of Midland was the first GAM member golfer to win the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur last summer, the third GAM member to win a national USGA title in the last three years and the sixth to win a USGA national championship in the last 21 years.
James Piot of Canton became Michigan’s first U.S. Amateur Champion in 2021, and Kim Moore of Portage won the inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open in 2022.
In 2002 Greg Reynolds of Grand Blanc won the U.S. Senior Amateur, Randy Lewis of Alma won the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and Tom Werkmeister of Hudsonville was co-medalist as Team Michigan won the USGA State Team Championship in 2016.