Written By: Greg Johnson
ANN ARBOR – August Meekhof likes the idea of winning the GAM Championship and the Michigan Amateur Championship in the same year.
“I think I can do it, I have the game,” said the Michigan State University golfer from the Grand Rapids area. “I just need to stick to my game plan and play well.”
Meekhof, who earlier this summer won the Michigan Amateur Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club, will try to win the 102nd GAM Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland Monday and Tuesday at Travis Pointe Country Club.
He is part of a field of 81 golfers who will play 54 holes of stroke play over two days, including two rounds on Monday and a final round Tuesday after a 36-hole cut to the low 30 scorers and ties Monday night.
“I’ve been playing solid this year,” said the defending champion who topped the field in the 101st GAM Championship last summer at Plum Hollow Country Club in a dramatic three-hole sudden-death playoff with Grant Haefner.
“I didn’t play like I can in the North and South (Amateur) or the Southern Amateur, but I’m looking forward to the GAM. It’s a great event and always has a great field. I’m excited to go defend.”
If Meekhof can defend, he will be the first golfer to win back-to-back GAM Championships since Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member John Morgan won in 1983 and ’84, and he would become just the 13th golfer to win consecutive GAM titles in the 102 years of the tournament.
If he ends up claiming both the Michigan Amateur and GAM Championship titles in the same summer, he will be the first to manage that feat since 2008 when Jimmy Chestnut won both. It has been accomplished just nine times in the shared history of the tournaments.
To get his name on the K.T. Keller Trophy for the second consecutive year Meekhof will have to succeed on a course he is playing for the first time.
“I don’t know anything about it, but I’ll go over this weekend, practice and make my plan for it,” he said. “GAM events are always on tough courses with great greens. So, I expect that.”
Ken Hartmann, senior director of competitions for the GAM, said Travis Pointe fits the bill with challenging holes and great greens.
“It is definitely a challenging course,” said Hartmann of what the GAM will play at par 71 and around 7,000 yards for each round.
“There are some places where you can take advantage with the driver and length, but a lot of others where you have to keep it in play or you will make a big number. I don’t expect anyone to go really low. You have to think your way through the course, be on the right side of the fairway and layup to correct spots.”
Travis Pointe, which from 2016 to 2018 hosted the LPGA Volvik Championship, was designed by Michigan golf architect Bill Newcomb, and opened in 1977. The well-maintained modern course features six sets of tees to fit golfers of all skill levels. It can be played up to 7,326 yards.
The club has hosted several Golf Association of Michigan championships over the years, including the GAM Championship in 1990 and 2009, the Michigan Amateur Championship in 1993, and the Michigan Women’s Amateur in 1979, as well as several GAM, Michigan PGA and USGA qualifiers.
Kori Isaac is the general manager, Rocky Mullendore the PGA professional and Dan Graft the superintendent at Travis Pointe. Learn more at travispointe.com.
The GAM Championship traditionally boasts a strong field of GAM members. Ryan Johnson of Bloomfield Hills, the 2014 champion, and Scott Strickland of Bloomfield Hills, 2013 champion, are former winners playing this year.
Several top collegiate players like Michigan Amateur runner-up Will Anderson of Portage and the University of Michigan, Patrick Deardorff of Clarkston and Eastern Michigan University and Coalter Smith of Grosse Pointe Farms and the University of Wisconsin are also in the field. Non-exempt players made their way in to the championship’s starting field by earning spots in sectional qualifiers across the state.
The GAM Championship has a rich history. It dates to 1919 with two years in which it wasn’t played during World War II. Past winners include Michigan golf legends like James Standish, Chuck Kocsis, Bud Stevens, Glenn Johnson, and Pete Green, and more recently U.S. Amateur Champion and now professional James Piot, who won the championship twice.