GAM SENIOR TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS: Tom Gieselman, Donna Tepper Win Titles

Written By: Greg Johnson

CLARKSTON – Tom Gieselman of Oakland University Golf & Learning Center and Donna Tepper of the Country Club of Detroit, top Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) players for several years, finally went home with championship trophies Monday.

They each won their first GAM titles by topping the field in the GAM Senior Tournament of Champions presented by BOYNE Golf at Oakhurst Golf & Country Club.

Champions, male and female, eligible for having won a GAM member club senior championship (men ages 55-plus, women ages 50-plus), or a GAM title this season, played a final 18-hole stroke play tournament for the season.

Gieselman, 61 and a national regional manager for Adrian Steel, birdied the last five holes, Nos. 14 through 18, and shot a 5-under 67 to win by three shots.

“It feels great to finally get a GAM trophy,” he said. “I’ve made the final four twice in the Michigan Amateur, I’ve qualified for 13 USGA championships and last year I lost to (Steve) Maddalena in the GAM Senior Match Play final, so I’ve won some things and been close a lot of times. This was fun, and five birdies, that’s a good finish.”

Steve Maddalena, from the Country Club of Jackson, and Joseph Creal of Pine Lake Country Club, tied with 2-under 70s. Creal was declared the winner of the runner-up trophy by winning a scorecard playoff.

Recent GAM Senior Champion Greg Davies of Orchard Lake Country Club was fourth with a 71, and three golfers shot 72 – John Barbour of Cascade Hills Country Club in Grand Rapids, Razmig Boghikian of the Michigan Publinx Golf Association and Kerry Buettner of Sunnybrook Country Club in Hudsonville.

“I love this course,” said Gieselman, who in 1993 was Michigan Section PGA Player of the Year and a two-time Michigan PGA Match Play champion before becoming a reinstated amateur.

“I qualified for the 2000 U.S. Amateur here, so I felt comfortable and I hit some really good shots coming in,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I put together a string like that.”

He said a recent putting lesson from Michigan Golf Hall of Fame teaching professional Dave Kendall has paid off.

“He’s great, he spent three hours with me and I putted with confidence today,” he said. “Such a difference.”

Tepper, 52 and the Chief of Plastic Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital, shot a 3-over 75 to top the women’s field.

Julie Massa of Lincoln Hills Golf Club in Pentwater, the recent runner-up in the Michigan Senior Women’s Amateur, shot 77 for second.

Defending champion Joan Garety of Egypt Valley Country Club in Ada was third with an 80, and Margo Purdie of Essex Country Club in Windsor rounded out the top four with an 82.

Tepper, who overcame a double-bogey followed by a bogey on holes 10-11 with the help of three birdies, said it was exciting to finally win a GAM Trophy.

“It’s like off-the-charts exciting for me,” she said. “It’s absolutely been a goal to win a GAM tournament, but I tried not to think that the whole day. I was thinking expect nothing, just play.”

Tepper, who was a semifinalist in the recent Michigan Senior Women’s Amateur falling to Massa, said the competition she had faced in GAM events that last 12 years has made her a better golfer.

“Great competition forces you to be stronger,” she said. “I’ve been dead last before, but I kept coming back. It’s the mental thought process of trying to stay in it, acknowledge when things aren’t going right, but put it away and move forward. And really, stay fearless. The bird who is fearful of falling won’t fly. So you have to be willing to fly.”

Oakhurst Golf & Country Club also hosted the GAM Tournament of Champions Monday (see related story).