Written by Greg Johnson
FARMINGTON HILLS – Sara Wold qualified for the now defunct U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship in 1984 and remembers a conversation that she credits as the launching of her many years of service to golf.
“I had qualified and played in stroke play for the first two days at Meadowbrook in South Dakota and didn’t play very well,” she said. “I remember sitting and talking with Dee Klockow, a good Michigan golfer, and telling her instead of playing poorly and feeling bad about it I should do something useful with golf. So that’s where it started. I became a rules official.”
In recognition of her service, which includes being the second female president of the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) in 2018, Wold has been named the GAM’s Distinguished Service Award winner for 2023. She will be recognized in formal ceremonies at the GAM Annual Meeting on May 3.
“Sara set the bar for a lot of volunteers,” Chris Whitten, the executive director of the GAM said. “I know she is especially proud of what she did for women’s golf, but she has contributed to all of golf in Michigan through the USGA and the GAM. She accomplished a lot of things before I arrived in 2019, but I’ve been so pleased with her involvement since then. She is never afraid to offer a suggestion when she sees things we can do better, and that is perfect. That’s what we want.”
An Ann Arbor resident, Wold has served the GAM in almost every possible way including tournament volunteer, rules official, governor, executive committee member and president.
“It never felt like I was doing a job – I always enjoyed it and I had wonderful mentors, volunteers to work with and the support of GAM executive directors and staff members who like me care so much about the game of golf,” she said.
Wold, 84, was one of the first women and public golfer members of the GAM and is a founding member of the Michigan Women’s Golf Association (MWGA in 1986). She has worked at the local, state and national levels in the game, including officiating 38 USGA championships. She was inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 2003 in recognition of her contributions to the game.
Among her many notable accomplishments was leading an effort for what is now the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship becoming a GAM administered tournament, which put all of the state’s major amateur championships under one banner in 2005.
“I felt by that time in its history that the GAM was where it should be,” she said.
The WMGA, the now defunct Women’s Michigan Golf Association not to be confused with the longtime and still current Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association in the Detroit area, conducted the state championship for women from 1914 to 2004.
“The women in the WMGA had become members of the GAM (in 1991) and the WMGA existed at that point (2004) just to have that one tournament,” she said. “The GAM by then truly supported women’s golf across the state and I was happy to be part of it.”
An Illinois native and standout softball player, Wold took up golf at age 23 in 1961 at the suggestion of a co-worker at Parke-Davis and Company in Detroit. She took lessons from the PGA Tour Hill brothers from Jackson, Dave and Mike, on Belle Isle. She became an accomplished player and competed for several years at the state and national level.
She has been honored in other athletic endeavors as a member of the Illinois Softball Hall of Fame and she also served on the Women’s Athletic Advisory Committee for Detroit’s Department of Recreation. Though her golf tournament officiating days are behind her, Wold continues to support and do committee work for the GAM. She was a long-time member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame board, including serving as a co-chairperson for several years with the late Bob McMasters.
She said she is elated with the current work and the support generated by the GAM for its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
“I’m so happy with that and plan to do more with that committee,” she said. “We have good people, exactly the kind of people we want to have supporting those efforts.”
Last October she underwent open heart surgery and didn’t play golf for a few months.
“I’m good to go now, walking a few miles twice a week, doing cardio rehab,” she said. “I don’t play well, but I’m still playing.”
She said she is grateful to be recognized by the GAM.
“I’m very grateful to the executive directors at the GAM who have increased the outreach of the association, grateful to all the volunteers we’ve had, the players who have been so helpful and supportive, the staff of the GAM who travel throughout the state to serve golf and run wonderful tournaments,” she said. “It’s a phenomenal organization and I’m really proud to be part of it.”