GAM Honored, Foursome Inducted by Michigan Golf Hall of Fame

In photo: From left, inductee Ron Beurmann of Country Club of Jackson, David Graham, who received the award for the GAM, and inductee Bernie Friedrich.

 BIG RAPIDS –    The Michigan Golf Hall of Fame presented just its fourth Special Award in history to the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM), which in 2019 is celebrating its centennial year of service to the game.

  In addition, the late George Bayer, a former Detroit Golf Club head professional and PGA Tour player, Ron Beurmann, head professional at Country Club of Jackson, Bernie Friedrich, senior vice-president of golf operations and resort sales for Boyne Resorts, and Al Mengert, a former Oakland Hills Country Club head professional, were inducted Sunday.

  The festivities were presented following a ribbon cutting at the new home of the Hall of Fame, which is now housed in the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Club.

  Beurmann, Friedrich and David Graham, the retiring executive director of the GAM, took part in the induction program. Mengert was unable to attend due to a recent health issue, and Bayer was inducted posthumously.

  Graham, who is retiring this month after 18 years as executive director, said the 100 years of service to golf in Michigan was made possible by thousands of volunteers over the years.

  “They spent countless hours and their own gas money, all for the love of the game,” he said. “Our mission statement starts with represent, promote, preserve and serve the best interests of the game. It’s our board members, our rules officials, our course raters, all volunteers, who have stayed true to that mission.”

 Beurmann, 58, has been the head professional at CC of Jackson for 26 years, and one of the Michigan PGA Section’s top golfers. He won the Michigan PGA Professional Championship in 2010, and the Michigan PGA Match Play Championship in 1998, and has also won a Michigan PGA Senior Championship (2013) and two Michigan Senior Open Championship titles in (2012, ’13).

  He called induction day his best day in golf ever and said when first notified of his election by nominating member Randy Erksine he researched the golf greats in the Hall of Fame.

  “I couldn’t believe, I still can’t believe I belong with those people, those names,” he said. “I had my family here on the 18th green today, and that meant so much to me, and I’ve been so fortunate to work at a job I love at a great club with great members. And then this happens.”

  Friedrich, 66, has worked for Boyne Resorts for 44 years and currently oversees a staff of over 200 employees in agronomy, course and golf shop operations for 12 golf courses, including 10 at three resorts in Michigan and one course each at resorts in Maine and Montana. He is a two-time Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year (1998, 2001).

  Friedrich said when he got the notification call from nominating member Larry Mancour, he thought his long-time friend was kidding.

  “I’ve never been a great player, and the Hall of Fame was something held for great players so I never let my mind drift to being in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “This is obviously, the high point of my life.”

  Bayer, who died in 2003 in California at the age of 77, was once one of golf’s longest drivers and won four times on the PGA Tour between 1957 and 1960. He was the head golf professional at Detroit Golf Club for 12 years (1972-1983). Prior to becoming a golf professional at age 29, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Bayer was an All-American college football tackle and end for the University of Washington and was drafted and played briefly in the NFL.

  Mengert, 89 and a resident of Carefree, Ariz., was a club professional who also played on the PGA Tour. He suffered a recent fall and doctors did not want him to travel to the ceremony.

  Mengert worked at many notable clubs, including Oakland Hills Country Club as head professional from 1976 to ’86. He won the 1976 and 1980 Michigan PGA Professional Championships, three Michigan Senior PGA Professional titles (1980, ’83, ‘86)  and two Michigan Senior Open titles (’83 and ’85) as well as several other PGA section titles from around the country. He also played in 27 major championships, including eight Masters Tournaments.

  The MGHOF is a heralded collection of portraits, plaques and memorabilia that now commemorates 127 members, including Walter Hagen, Chuck Kocsis, Horton Smith and more current notables Dave and Mike Hill, Dan Pohl, Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins.

 The new Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center is named for the Hall of Fame founder. His son, Ken, and Ken’s wife, Kim, attended the ribbon cutting.

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