Written By: Greg Johnson
SPRING LAKE – Katie Chipman of Canton came to Spring Lake Country Club to play in the 107th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland with a plan to try and make it through stroke play into match play and then see what might happen.
What happened is the 25-year-old former Grand Valley State University All-American golfer, former professional and former runner-up in the championship, made it all the way, winning the state title Friday and adding her name to the historic Patti Shook Boice Trophy.
She also received the trophy from Boice, the legendary seven-time champion and Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member who is a Spring Lake Country Club member and was part of the gallery all week.
Chipman, facing a 2-down deficit through 14 holes to Olivia Hemmila of Troy and trailing most of the title match, rallied winning three consecutive holes capped by a 39-foot birdie putt on hole 17 to finally take the lead in her 1-up win.
“It’s been kind of a crazy week,” said the 2017 runner-up who has been working the last two years in golf after an unsuccessful LPGA/Epson Qualifying bid but has not played competitively and decided to seek amateur reinstatement.
“This means a lot – a lot. Like I’ve said before this week, my goal was just to make match play and then just take it one match at a time and go from there. I haven’t had much practice time at all. I never thought this was how it would end up. I’m really grateful that it did and it was really a great experience and a really fun tournament.”
Hemmila, 18 and headed to Oakland University this fall on a golf scholarship, said she had an amazing week, too.
“It stings definitely, I mean, because I was leading the match so to come up short hurts, but I can’t be mad at how I played,” she said. “I mean for the first time I made match play and then to win all those matches and be part of the final match and give myself a shot the entire day to win the whole thing is just incredible and just something I had not imagined myself doing. But here I am.”
Hemmila, consistently making important putts, won holes 11 and 12 to take her second 2-up lead of the round, lost 13 when Chipman chipped in for birdie from behind the green but then went back in front winning 14 with a par.
A Hemmila wedge shot that ended up in a front greenside bunker helped cause a bogey on 15 and Chipman won with par, and then Hemmila hit her tee shot on the par 3 16th wide right into a bunker and Chipman won again with a par.
That led them to 17 where Chipman dropped the long birdie putt.
“I made a bad alignment choice off the tee on 16, and my second shot on 15 really cost me and I ended up losing both those holes and then the lead when Katie made a great putt on 17,” Hemmila said.
Chipman said she felt lucky to win 15 because she hit a tree with her tee shot, but that from then on, she hit good shots.
“I was between clubs on 16 so I clubbed up and it worked out for a good par and then on 17 I just hit three good shots,” she said. “On the putt, I just tried to use more feel than trying to judge the distance and it went in. I made one about that distance on 17 earlier in the week to beat Shannon (Kennedy). They were both big putts for me in winning this.”
Chipman ended up playing 38 holes of golf for the day. She fought off Chelsea Collura of Wyandotte in 20 holes in a morning semifinal match. And Hemmila played 37. She battled to beat 2021 Michigan Women’s Amateur Champion Kimberly Dinh of Midland in 19 holes in the other semifinal.
Chipman admitted she was having a hard time believing she won. She said she wasn’t confident in her game coming into the tournament and had practiced a lot less than she used to during college golf.
“I mentally just stayed in it, I think,” she said. “The bad shots come into my head, but maybe I’m forgetting some of the good shots I had out there. Olivia played great all day, and I had a tough match this morning. Match after match was really tough. I’m tired. I’m not used to walking and playing this much golf, but I feel really good right now about what happened.”