FARMINGTON HILLS – Laurie Puscas finds being a course rating volunteer interesting, but it’s the relationships she has built and enjoyed with other Golf Association of Michigan volunteers that has kept her coming back the last 12 years.
“The places you go sometimes require long drives and even some over-night stays and that gives you a lot of time to talk about life and things besides golf, and we have had such wonderful discussions and you get to know people so well,” she said. “I enjoy the rating process. It is interesting and it is fun, but it really comes down to the people. There are such wonderful people in the GAM and it so nice working with them.”
Puscas, who has had multiple careers including owning her own photography studio, has been named the GAM Course Rater of the Year. The award is presented annually to the course rater who demonstrates outstanding proficiency with the Course Rating System™ and is committed to helping grow and develop the GAM Course Rating Program.
Kyle Wolfe, the GAM’s director of course rating, said Puscas was chosen in part because she is dedicated to the program and is a vital piece of what the 125 GAM volunteer course raters did over 67 ratings this year.
“Laurie has taken on a lot of leadership within the GAM Course Rating Program and she has greatly improved her knowledge and expertise in the last three or four years,” he said. “There is no one more deserving than her to be our course rater of the year.”
As a captain/team leader Puscas oversees a specific area of the state, manages relationships with the member courses in that area and coordinates and leads the ratings at those courses. She said she had nominated another rater for the award so being named the rater of the year took her by surprise.
“I’m very appreciative and it is nice to know people you work with and volunteer with appreciate what you do and think highly of you,” she said. “I was really surprised. It is an honor and it was so nice to have so many people at our end of the year rating event. For all those people to be there, it meant a lot.”
Puscas is a member at Oakhurst Golf & Country Club in Clarkston and in the past has been a member at Detroit Golf Club and Great Oaks Country Club. Her and her husband also belong to a club in Naples, Fla., where they live part of the year.
She estimated she has been involved in well over 100 ratings over the years with the GAM.
“I enjoy seeing golf courses, playing them and some I’ve rated two or three times because of changes they have made and it is interesting to see the changes they make like adding bunkers, making them bigger,” she said. “Red Run (Golf Club) is one where you can see the changes they have made in the last few years toughened the course up. I could see it when we measured it, then rated it and then played it. That process is interesting to me.”
In addition to Puscas being named the Course Rater of the Year, the GAM chose Marty Score as the Rookie of the Year and Dee Piccard as the Trainer of the Year. Like Puscas they will be invited to the GAM’s Annual Meeting in the spring where they will be introduced and honored along with other GAM award winners.
The GAM Course Rating Program typically rates 50 or more courses each year across the state, and the raters are volunteers who collect raw data for the Course Rating System. It is one of the many services provided to Michigan golf by the GAM and is dependent on volunteers. Course raters are typically avid golfers who have an analytical inclination and the process orientation to apply the Course Rating System methodology. Their data collection helps to produce the course ratings needed to apply the World Handicap System via the GAM and the United States Golf Association.
“We couldn’t do it without volunteers,” Wolfe said. “The fun part is they get to play golf courses around the state, but that’s all after they have put in the work and made the handicap system possible for all golfers.”