Defending Champion Tyler Copp Tops Field for 110th Michigan Amateur

Host Cascade Hills Country Club Celebrates Centennial; Carl’s Golfland Presenting Sponsor

  GRAND RAPIDS – Tyler Copp of Ann Arbor could have returned to Mercer University in Georgia for a fifth year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, but he had his degree and he is committed to turning professional after one final summer as an amateur golfer.

  “I feel I can get better in the next 365 days on my own with a full commitment to golf rather than having to go to school,” he said. “And I really have reached my goals in college golf. The big one was winning a college tournament, and I did that this year in the Invitational at Savannah Harbor. I won and our team won, and I had some top 5s and top 10s this year, too.”

  His last summer as an amateur kicks into high gear when he defends his title in the 110th Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Cascade Hills Country Club, Tuesday through Saturday (June 22-26).  

  Copp, 23, turned back James Piot of Canton and Michigan State University, 2 and 1, in the championship match a year ago at Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs (Heather course). Copp said he is looking forward to defending his title and has even scheduled a practice round with Piot.

  “James has some accolades and accomplishments I don’t have, and we had a great match last year,” he said. “It’s the one thing I have over him and I know he will be out to even the score on that one.”

  While Copp and Piot will be the duo to watch on the course, the duo behind the Michigan Amateur being played at Cascade Hills is John Barbour, president emeritus of the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM), and Dr. Thomas Hicks, a rules official and GAM governor.

  The duo from Grand Rapids who are members at Cascade Hills felt the Amateur was the perfect event to be part of the historic 100th year for their club.

   “The centennial is absolutely why Tom and I decided to try and bring the Amateur here,” said Barbour, who was GAM president in 2017. “This will be our outward facing event for the community to celebrate our 100 years. We want to show we are a wonderful family friendly club with a great golf course and welcome the best golfers in the state.”

  Cascade Hills features an original 18-hole course designed by turn-of-the-century golf professional and architect Jack Daray Sr., and a new nine-hole par 3 course recently completed by W. Bruce Matthews III. Matthews has worked with the club on bunker renovation, new tees and other improvements on the 18-hole course as well.

 The club, which has over 700 members, also includes a state-of-the-art golf practice center, tennis, pool and fitness facilities, multiple dining options, hiking trails and more.

  “Over the years we’ve really become a family club with a great variety of amenities, a huge junior golf program, and Tom and I are really proud of it,” Barbour said. “I hope that with this great location that our members continue to reinvest and keep our golf course current as they have done for many years, and I hope Cascade Hills is still here 100 years from now.”

  Daray, the original designer, was one of the first U.S.-born teaching golf professionals who also worked in classic course design across the country and is one of the 14 founding members of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA). In 1920 the New Orleans, La., native lived in Grand Rapids and was the head professional at another local club, The Highlands Country Club, which no longer exists.

   Many of the classic design elements he created – flowing natural terrain fairways, push-up greens and angled bunkering – remain on a 6,800-yard course that will be played at par 70 for the Amateur.

  Ken Hartmann, director of competitions and USGA services for the GAM, said the competing golfers in the Amateur will find a course similar in design to other classic gems around the state, including some past hosts of the Michigan Amateur.

  “It is the older, traditional golf course where the defense is in the greens,” he said. “The winner will be determined on the greens, on who can keep the ball below the hole and handle some of the more difficult hole locations the greens offer.

   “We won’t trick anything up. You don’t need to do that. It’s a strong enough golf course on its own. It’s always in great condition with great greens that can be as fast as you want them. (Superintendent) Al Bathum and his staff do a great job. We’ve held qualifiers here for the U.S. Amateur and the Michigan Amateur and other championships before.”

  The starting field of 156 golfers has been pared down through qualifiers across the state from 875 entrants, the third most in Amateur history.

  Copp will be playing Cascade Hills for the first time in his practice round. He said he will form a game-plan for the course, but his focus is on having the same mentality as last year.

   “I still catch my mind drifting back to last year and I remember every shot, especially in the final match,” he said. “I made the shots I needed in key moments and that’s what I remember most. I want to get back in that same mentality this year. That will be the crucial to defending.”

  Copp is one of four former champions in the field this year.

  Andy Matthews of Grand Rapids, the champion in 2001, a successful professional and now reinstated amateur, made it through qualifiers to play in his hometown.

  Three-time champion Steve Maddalena of Jackson, 61 and among the top-ranked senior amateur golfers in the country, is playing. He won his Amateur titles in 1980 at Belvedere Golf Club, 1990 at Meadowbrook Country Club and 1995 at Red Run Golf Club.

  The others former champions are 2006 winner Greg Davies of West Bloomfield and 2015 champion Ryan Johnson of New Boston, who works for the presenting sponsor, Carl’s Golfland.

   An even dozen of last year’s “Sweet 16” are back, including Copp, Piot, Coalter Smith of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michael Anderson of Northville, John Quigley of St. Clair Shores, Grant Haefner of Bloomfield Hills, semifinalist August Meekhof of Eastmanville, Eric Spencer of Bloomfield Hills, Charlie Green of Ann Arbor, Tyler Rayman of Otsego, semifinalist Logan Price of Grand Blanc and Zach Robbins of Grand Rapids.

  The field plays stroke play Tuesday and Wednesday to determine a low 64 scorers to fill out the match play bracket. Two rounds of matches on Thursday determine the celebrated “Sweet 16” final golfers, and two more rounds of matches Friday identify a final four for the semifinals and final match on Saturday.