Ten years have passed since the New Millennium began and the Golf Association of Michigan has named four Players of the Decade to honor golfers who have accomplished the most in the first part of this new century.
The Players of the Decade were chosen by a special subcommittee of the Championship Committee. The selection was based on 1) the total Honor Roll points each had earned over the ten year period (2000-2009) and 2) an evaluation of the Championships each had won over that period. And, finally, the Players of the Decade needed to have a consistent record of achievement over the entire decade.
Russ Cunning ham (men), Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll (women) , Greg Reynolds (senior men) and Joan Garety (senior women) were all named Players of the Decade in their respective categories.
Cunningham (DeWitt/Hawk Hollow) won six championships in the past 10 years: the GAM Mid-Amateur (2001, 2002, 2004), the GAM Championship (2002), and the Michigan Public Links Match Championship ((2004, 2007).
Slobodnik-Stoll (Haslett/MSU) won eight championships: GAM Women?s Mid-Am (2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005) and the GAM Tournament of Club Champions (2009, 2007, 2004). She is in her 13th season as the Head Women?s Golf Coach at Michigan State University and has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year twice during her tenure.
?I think that it is a wonderful honor because it shows longevity,? said Slobbodnik-Stoll. ?It is the same philosophy I have with my teams at MSU; I don?t just want to have good teams for a couple of years and then go a few years and not have good teams. I want to have good teams consistently. In the same way, I don?t want to just win a couple of tournaments one year and then not win anything for a few years. I hope to be a force in Michigan golf for a long time.?
Slobodnik-Stoll says in the years she has been coaching at MSU and the years she has been playing competitive golf, she has seen a marked improvement in the quality of the players.
?When I think about what was thought of as a good score 10 years ago versus what is a good score now the improvement is amazing,? said Slobodnik-Stoll. ?When you see all of the junior players and college players who are competing and the amount of quality tournaments available for women now it really speaks to how good the level of women?s golf is in Michigan.?
Garety (Ada/Egypt Valley) won the GAM Women?s Mid-Amateur (2004); GAM Tournament of Club Champions (2003) and the Michigan Women?s Publix Championship (2003, 2004). She transitioned into the senior category during the decade and believes at every level, competitive golf in Michigan is improving.
?The first half of the decade I was playing in the regular division of those tournaments and not the senior division and it makes you feel pretty good because the quality of the competition over the past decade is very impressive,? said Garety. ?It just keeps getting better and better. Hopefully I can continue to find ways to get better too.
?I think it is awful nice for the GAM to have the senior category too and find a way of recognizing golfers in all four categories.?
Reynolds (Grand Blanc/Flint GC) won the GAM Tournament of Club Champions in 2009 and was USGA Senior Amateur Champion in 2002.
The awards will be presented at the GAM?s annual meeting at Pine Lake Country Club on May 4.