Link to Championship page: Women’s Am
SPRING LAKE – Spring Lake Country Club hosted the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship in 2015, and the membership of the 108-year-old private club in the cozy inland lake community near Grand Haven and Lake Michigan wanted to do it again.
“It was a great championship the last time we were there, and I’m sure they will duplicate it if not do even better,” said Ken Hartmann, the Golf Association of Michigan’s senior director for rules and competitions regarding the 103rd Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland that will play our Monday through Friday.
“The membership there really liked hosting it, and really wanted it back. They are into amateur golf there, and they have a really popular women’s invitational that is almost 100 years old. When you have a place with a great golf course like that, and they want to have you, it’s really hard to turn down.”
The top women golfers in the state will play a course that dates to 1911 when the newly formed club retained noted course architect Tom Bendelow, whose many original designs include Medinah Country Club near Chicago. Bendelow was paid $50 and he laid out a six-hole course with clay greens. Following the addition of three more holes in 1919 by the club, Bendelow returned in 1920 to add another nine holes to the layout that borders Spring Lake.
Renovations have followed over the years, including three by the Grand Haven-based Matthews family of golf course architecture fame. W. Bruce Matthews, Jerry Matthews and W. Bruce III have each been involved in renovation projects.
Hartmann said the golf course holds up for a championship.
“It’s a tight golf course with some very challenging greens,” he said. “The players will have to be careful where they put their ball. Hole locations will be challenging like usual for our championships and the greens allow that. Distance is not really a premium at this course. It’s a shot-maker’s course. The premium is putting the ball in play off the tee, and then staying below the hole for the most part on the greens. They are subtle greens and the players have to be careful with reads or they will three-putt easily.”
In 2015 Allyson Geer of Brighton, now a standout Michigan State University golfer, became the youngest Michigan Women’s Amateur champion ever at age 16. She topped Hailey Hrynewich of Muskegon in 19 holes to cap the week and thanked the Spring Lake membership for hosting the championship.
“Everybody was so great to us, and I really enjoyed the golf course,” she said during the trophy ceremony.
The trophy, which in 2017 officially became the Patti Shook Boice Trophy, will carry extra meaning for the 2019 tournament. Shook Boice is a longtime Spring Lake member and resident of the community. She is also a record six-time winner of the state championship, a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member and expected to visit during the week.
Shook Boice also won the prestigious Spring Lake Invitational Tournament a record 13 times. That tournament was played for the 98th time this summer and has a star-studded history as one of the nation’s oldest women’s tournaments. Legend Babe Zaharias is among those who played in the championship.
Geer, now Geer-Park, is not playing in this year’s championship due to a scheduling conflict, and last year’s champion, Kerri Parks of Flushing, returned to Marshall University for summer classes and is not playing.
The runner-up a year ago, Elayna Bowser, is entered and playing her last summer of amateur golf with plans to turn professional. She recently played in the LPGA team event, the LPGA Great Lakes Bay Invitational, presented at Midland Country Club.
Anna Kramer, the 2016 GAM champion while still in high school, made an exciting run in 2015 in the Amateur at Spring Lake. The University of Indianapolis golfer is the daughter of Spring Lake members and will be among the favorites this week. Another top amateur from the Spring Lake membership ranks playing in the tournament is Kayla Krueger.
Some of the collegiate players entered include Julia Dean of Brighton and the University of Arkansas, Nichole Cox of Empire and Bowling Green State University, Meghan Deardorff of Clarkston and Central Michigan University, Veronica Haque of Rochester Hills and Oakland University and Elizabeth Harding of South Lyon and Michigan State University.
Notable high school players entered include Danielle Staskowski of Clarkston, Lilia Henkel of Grand Rapids, Kay Zubkus of Ada and Shannon Kennedy of Beverly Hills.
Michigan State University golf coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, the champion in 1996 and ’98, is playing once again in the field. She is the winningest golfer in GAM history. Also entered is last summer’s GAM Senior Champion Shelly Weiss of Southfield.
The starting field will play two rounds of stroke play to determine a low 32 scorers to fill out the match play bracket. Round of 32 matches will be on Wednesday with Sweet 16 and quarterfinal rounds on Thursday and semifinals and the final match on Friday.
The public is welcome to attend free of charge.
-Greg Johnson, [email protected]