Michigan Golf Hall of Fame welcomes Janke, Leeke, Morgan

Michigan Golf Hall of Fame welcomes Janke, Leeke, Morgan

and salutes the Buick Open

A full spectrum of golf in Michigan will be honored May 18 at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion when Ken Janke, Meriam Bailey Leeke and John Morgan will be inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame and the Buick Open will be given a special award as it celebrates its 50th anniversary as the states long-running PGA Tour event.

Janke and Leeke have had multi-faceted careers and the self-taught Morgan compiled a strong playing record which led to his being named Golf Association of Michigans Player of the Decade for the 1980s, a period in which he won the Michigan Amateur, won three GAM Championships and two of his three Michigan Mid-Amateur Championships. Morgan qualified and played in three United States Amateur Championships and four Mid-Amateurs. Playing first as a member of the Michigan Publinx Golf Association and making its Honor Roll in 1981 and 1982, Morgan made the GAM Honor Roll 11 times in a span of 1983-95 during which he was an Oakland Hills member and now at Detroit Golf Club.

I joke that I got my competitive nature from my Dad but not his golf swing, said the 6-foot-1 Morgan whose golf swing has the easy grace of Tom Weiskopf.

Morgan thought he was headed for a Division II school in Pennsylvania after two years at Oakland Community College on a team that went to the national finals but five hours at the Michigan Amateur changed that.

I was on the range and hitting next to Jim Lipe who was the Assistant Coach at the University of Michigan. Id lost to Bud Stevens in 19 holes and Lipe said, We want you at Michigan.

Meriam Bailey Leeke also is a Big Ten product but when she played at Northwestern University, womens golf wasnt recognized as a varsity sport. Leeke was inducted into the Northwestern Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992 although the school didnt hand out varsity letters to all the past women athletes until a special ceremony at halftime of a football game in 2002.

Leekes father, who played football at Illinois with Red Grange, introduced her to golf and she broke 80 by the time she was 12. She began playing national events at 13, played high school golf in Evanston and in 1956 won the Chicago District Golf Association Match and Stroke Play titles and the Illinois Womens Amateur. In 1957 she won the National Intercollegiate and the Womens Western Amateur and in 1958 was named to the U.S. Curtis Cup team.

Although she played in a number of womens professional tournaments, the purses averaged only $2,000 and Leeke decided against turning pro. She and her husband, Lyle, took over the family course, Old Channel Trail in Montague (MI) in 1966. It was a nine hole course by Robert Bruce Harris on 90 acres and in the years since nine holes designed by W. Bruce Matthews and nine more by his son, Jerry were added. Meriam has been on boards of banks, charities, two colleges and currently is director and treasurer of the National Golf Course Owners Association.

Ken Janke got an early start in golf, caddying at Plum Hollow Golf Club when he was nine years old. While always a strong player he captained his Dearborn High School team for two years of unbeaten match play events and won the 1957 U.S. Army Military Championship in Chantilly, France — Janke is better known for his contributions to the game.

Establishing the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame was Jankes idea in 1982. Janke also was the father of major charity golf events beginning in 1967 when he and former Detroit Lions All-Pro Ron Kramer founded the Walter Hagen Invitational to benefit the American Cancer Society. That led to similar tournaments around the country and Janke was awarded the Cancer Societys Founders Award.

Janke also has organized the Babe Zaharias Invitational, March of Dimes, Tournament, St. Jude Invitational tournaments and Bnai Brith Championship. In 1979 he was instrumental in founding the Detroit Lions Alumni Golf Outing to benefit the NFL Alumni Dire Need Fund and the format has spread to 28 cities.

Jankes also found time to build a comprehensive collection of golf memorabilia and to write four books on the games quirks, laughs and facts.

Since its inception in 1958 with the then-unheard of purse of $52,000 with $9,000 of it going to the winner, Billy Casper, the Buick Open has brought big-time golf to Michigan. The games greatest players have played in the Buick Open including Casper, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Julius Boros, Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, Tom Weiskopf, Fred Couples, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, and Tiger Woods.

Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc, its members and the thousands of volunteers have made Buick Open Week one of summers major events in Michigan and the tournament has raised $8.8 million dollars for southeast Michigan charities.

When Buick introduced the tournament it was the first major corporate sponsor of the PGA Tour and while sponsors have come and gone in other tournaments, Buick and Michigan golf have enjoyed a long, fruitful relationship. In recognition of the Buick Opens great influence on the game in Michigan, the Michigan Golf Foundation will honor the tournament during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Indianwood.

Golf on the Old Course at Indianwood will be at 1:00 pm with the reception, dinner and induction ceremony immediately following golf. Tickets for golf, reception, dinner and induction ceremony are $175 or $50 without golf.

For more information, contact Loretta Larkin at [email protected] or (248)-719-0650.

The full roster of Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members is on the Web site: