Link to Honor Roll: Points
FARMINGTON HILLS – Holt’s Julie Massa loves to talk golf with her father, Oregon PGA professional Al Cross, who is 88.
“I don’t remember when he started teaching me, I just remember growing up playing golf,” she said. “He was very big on junior golf as were a lot of golf pros. He was big in encouraging me to play. I think he enjoys that I still play and compete just as much as I enjoy it. I can call him up and we can talk golf. I love it. I still learn a lot from him. I’ve been really fortunate.”
Massa, 56, has also been successful as a competitive golfer and is the GAM Senior Women’s Player of the Year, Ken Hartmann senior director of rules and competitions, announced today.
GAM Players of the Year are determined by the Honor Roll points system and Massa has topped the Senior Women’s standings and won Player of the Year honors for an unprecedented five consecutive years.
Point totals can be found on a pull down from the Championships tab at gam.org. Over the next few weeks the GAM will announce more Players of the Year in gender and age categories. Previously, Dan Ellis of East Lansing and Yurika Tanida of East Lansing were named the Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year and Steve Maddalena of Jackson was named the Senior Men’s Player of the Year.
“Five in a row, it’s hard to believe,” Massa said. “You know, I guess it’s because I keep working at it and probably because I keep learning my game better. I still work with my Dad. I work locally with (PGA professional) Chad Kurmel over at Forest Akers (Spartan Golf Academy). I enjoy that, the learning, the practice, the always trying to improve.”
Massa amassed 500 points to top the Honor Roll just ahead of Audrey Akins of LaSalle (Canada) and Carl’s Golfland, who had 429 points and won the GAM Mid-Amateur Championship. Joanne Adams of Detroit and Orchard Lake Country Club was third with 369 and GAM Women’s Senior winner Joan Garety of Ada and Egypt Valley Country Club (340) and Michigan Women’s Senior Amateur champion Donna Benford of Linden and Spring Meadows Country Club (225) rounded out the top five.
Massa highlighted her season by qualifying for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, making match play and winning her first-round match. She also finished the season strong, winning both the GAM Tournament of Champions and the GAM Senior Tournament of Champions titles.
“It was really nice to finish that way,” she said. “I struggled a little early in the year but played well in the U.S. Senior Women’s Am and just kept working on it.”
Hartmann said Massa is a model of consistency.
“She is solid with her tee ball, her short game and just doesn’t make mistakes,” he said. “You will not beat her with pars. You have to go make birdies. She stays in great shape, competes at the national level, plays to her strengths on the course, finds her comfort level and sticks to it.”
He also said she shows up to compete like a professional.
“She is there 100-percent competitively, ready to map it out and check her notes,” he said. “You see a different mentality with upper-echelon players, and she is certainly one of those. On top of that she is good people, there for the right reasons, complimentary of the volunteers, the staff at the hosts clubs, and serves as an ambassador to the game.”
Massa and her husband Darryl are the parents of three golfing daughters, Megan (Dan Schuchardt), Maddi (Mike Cluskey) and Mariah.
“Our two son-in-laws play golf, too,” she said. “We are a golf family.”
She said her father made sure she had access to the game as a youngster, even if it meant sometimes playing against the boys. She thanks the GAM for providing that access to competition at this stage in her golf career.
“The GAM runs their tournaments professionally on great courses, and I really enjoy the gals I play with and against,” she said. “I’ve played with them now for many years, and they all still love to play, love to compete and it’s always fun to see them. They are my friends now as well as my peers, and the competition is still so strong. I think we all feel fortunate to live in a state like Michigan that has an association like the GAM. I think that keeps me competitive, too, my friends and the events.”
-Greg Johnson, [email protected]