Michigan Women’s Amateur Showcases MSU’s Slobodnik-Stoll at Forest Akers West

  EAST LANSING – Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, the winningest golfer in Golf Association of Michigan history and a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, was the runner-up last summer at the age of 47 in the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship.

  That alone identifies the two-time Michigan Women’s Amateur Champion as a significant part of the field for the 104th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland that starts Saturday and continues through Wednesday on the Forest Akers West golf course at Michigan State University.

  “I would like to make a good run at it again, obviously,” she said.

  In a tournament at Forest Akers though, Slobodnik-Stoll is more than a former champion (1996, 1998), 19-time winner of GAM tournaments and the returning runner-up.  She is also the successful Michigan State University women’s golf program’s head coach with seven Big Ten Conference titles and 20 NCAA tournament teams in 22 years.

  Forest Akers West is home turf for the Spartans, where Slobodnik-Stoll has played, coached, and watched countless rounds of golf. When she declares it will be a great host site for the championship, she isn’t just bleeding green and white.

  “It’s running really fast right now, and there is no doubt the course will be in great shape,” she said. “Ron Lewis is an awesome superintendent. He understands the caliber of players, and what is going on with a championship. He always has it ready

  “I’m very proud as the coach here to show it off to the players, and to get a chance to compete myself, and it’s a credit to Bryan Harris (general manager, PGA professional) that he understands hosting championships for women is really important for the game.”

  Forest Akers West, redesigned by MSU alum Arthur Hills, is hosting the state championship for the second time in the last eight years. The field will play 36 holes of stroke play Saturday and Sunday to determine the low 32 scorers to fill out the seedings in the match play bracket. The round of 32 is Monday to determine the celebrated “Sweet 16.” Two rounds of matches on Tuesday determine a final four golfers and the semifinal and final matches are Wednesday.

  “Hosting the state championship is a big deal to us,” Harris said. “We feel it’s always important to partner with the GAM because they are the governing body for golf in Michigan, and like us they feel it is important to host great golfers at a public university course, and to grow the play in women’s golf.”

  Slobodnik-Stoll and 56-year-old Forest Akers member Julie Massa of Holt, the GAM Senior Women’s Player of the Year for five consecutive years, are the most experienced players in the field and on the course. Elayna Bowser of Dearborn, last year’s champion at Spring Lake Country Club, is now a professional.

  Katie Chipman of Canton, the 2017 runner-up and heading into her final year at Grand Valley State University, Anika Dy of Traverse City, a University of Michigan golfer who last summer won the Michigan PGA Women’s Open, and 2016 GAM Champion Anna Kramer of Spring Lake, a University of Indianapolis golfer, are among the notable golfers in the field.

  Current Spartans that play for Slobodnik-Stoll do not meet tournament residency requirements for Michigan. Yurika Tanida of Japan, who was the GAM Women’s Player of the Year in 2019, is playing in the prestigious North and South Women’s Amateur at Pinehurst, N.C., this week, along with a couple of her teammates.

  Slobodnik-Stoll will be keeping a close eye on her 16-year-old daughter Olivia, who is playing in her first Michigan Amateur. Her and husband Jim Stoll’s athletic daughter surprised her parents when she decided at 14 that she wanted to play competitive golf after previously showing minimal interest.

  “I would like to see her get into the match play,” Slobodnik-Stoll said. “That would contribute another step in her golf process.”

  The coach said the West course and its design, especially the finishing holes, will add drama and excitement when the tournament turns to match play.

  “At 17 the kids who hit it far enough will get over the sand traps and have an advantage, and 18 is always a challenging hole, especially if you don’t feel confident that you know exactly what to do,” she said. “There are several good holes that will impact matches on the course. It will take some great play to win, which is the way it should be.”

  Ken Hartmann, senior director of rules and competitions for the GAM, said Forest Akers West fits all the criteria for a great championship.

  “We can set up holes different ways to challenge the players because they have several tees in well-designed places and some greens with multiple hole positions,” he said. “It’s a golf course where you need to be careful where you put the ball. Trees are in play, Willows, big mature trees, and you just can’t stand there and take a rip at the ball.”


-Greg Johnson, [email protected]