Anna Kramer Defends, Saginaw Country Club Hosts Michigan Women’s Amateur

  SAGINAW – Spring Lake’s Anna Kramer has her undergraduate degree, but she isn’t finished with college. She’s headed back to the University of Indianapolis in the fall to back things up with a graduate degree in strategic leadership and design.

  She is also the returning defending champion and by design will strategically lead the field in the 105th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship Monday through Friday at Saginaw Country Club.

  “It would be awesome to back it up,” she said of her win last summer at Forest Akers West in East Lansing.

   Kramer, 22, has been stroke play medalist two years running in the championship and last year was pushed to the final hole only once in match play on her way to victory. She topped 2018 champion Kerri Parks of Flushing in the finals.

  “It was quite an accomplishment,” Kramer said in reflection. “I played so well and I hope to play great this year, too. I really like the golf course and I’m looking forward to playing there again.”

  Saginaw Country Club hosted the 101st Women’s Amateur in 2017 and Kramer was a round of 16 victim of the eventual champion, Aya Johnson of Muskegon.

  “They’ve also had other tournaments there so I’ve played the course quite a few times and enjoy it,” she said. “It has that great older country club feel and it is always in such great shape.”

    Saginaw Country Club head golf professional Chad Boyce said the members of the historic club that dates to 1898 couldn’t wait to host again.

  “It’s kind of why we have stayed on the radar with the GAM by hosting other tournaments the last few years,” he said. “It’s a great golf course for the women who will play for the championship. Our club’s history goes back with amateur tournament golf a long ways, and I think last time it was cool for some of the members to actually learn about that tradition.”

  The classic lines of the course date to the first nine holes (front nine) being developed in 1898 by Charles H. Davis, a devotee of the game who purchased a farm and built a course. By 1902 the club had 100 members. The second nine, which was called the “new course,” formally opened in 1912 and was designed by Tom Bendelow. Bendelow is famous for his design of the Medinah Country Club courses in suburban Chicago, as well as Birmingham Country Club and The Jewel on Mackinac Island.

  Saginaw CC’s course was remodeled in the 1960s, and Michigan golf course architect Jerry Matthews remodeled parts of the course again in 1983. The current clubhouse dates to 1969. A landmark bridge over Gratiot Ave. connects the two nines.

  This will be the third time the club serves as host of the Women’s Amateur. The first time was 102 years ago in 1919. Lucille Desenberg Of Kalamazoo, who won the championship four times, won for a third consecutive year.

  The second time the club hosted was four years ago when Johnson, who now lives in Connecticut and works for NBC Sports and The Golf Channel, topped Grand Valley State University golfer Katie Chipman of Plymouth in the final match.

  Chipman is back in this year’s field, too, and along with Kramer will be among the favorites in a field that includes 14 of the players who made the prestigious “Sweet 16” a year ago.

  Among the other notables: University of Michigan golfer Anika Dy of Traverse City, the Michigan Women’s Open winner in 2019, Ariel Chang of Macomb Township, the Michigan Girls’ Junior State Amateur winner in 2020, and Kimberly Dinh of Midland, the GAM Mid-Amateur Champion of 2020.  

   “I’m ready,” Kramer said. “I took a week off after our nationals (NCAA Division II National Championship) but started practicing each day and playing on weekends. Anything can happen in match play so you have to be ready for those things. I played really consistent golf last year all through the week. I hope to do it again.”

   The course can be played at a maximum yardage of 6,143 yards and Ken Hartmann, the senior director of competition and USGA services for the GAM, called it a perfect fit for the Women’s Amateur.

  “It’s a great old-style country club because the course is a what you see is what you get course,” Hartmann said. “It’s not tricked up. The greens are the course’s defense. You have to play more cautious on the greens with severe undulations and can be more aggressive on a few of the others. There are a lot of holes with great character. The scoring side is maybe the back nine, and on the front you hang in there, keep your ball out of the trees and make pars.”