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GOLF ASSOCIATION OF MICHIGAN

MICHIGAN GOLF HALL OF FAME: Threesome Elected

Greg Johnson, Stephen Kircher and Kevin VandenBerg to be Inducted in October

Written By: Terry Moore

BIG RAPIDS – Greg Johnson, an award-winning sports journalist and later a media consultant for Michigan’s largest golf associations, Stephen Kircher, the President and CEO of Boyne Resorts and a leader and advocate of destination golf in northern Michigan, and Kevin VandenBerg, a many time amateur champion in Michigan and ranked nationally as the top Senior Player of the Year in 2023, have been elected to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

The threesome will be inducted on Oct. 27 at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Club, home of the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center that houses the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame (MGHOF). The 2024 class will bring the number of inductees to 140.

Johnson, 67, a long-time journalist and golf writer for the Grand Rapids Press, was a constant presence at Michigan’s biggest tournaments sharing the stories of players and action with his readers. In addition to covering numerous Buick Opens, PGA Tour Champions and LPGA tour stops in Michigan and several major championships including the Masters, Johnson also reported on the local, state, and amateur golf scene. While at the Grand Rapids Press, he was honored for sports writing and as a columnist by the Michigan Press Association. More than a decade ago, he transitioned to a new business in media relations and communications. In that role, Johnson, the current volunteer chairperson of the MGHOF, has helped publicize many of the same tournaments, events and competitors he covered as a sportswriter. The state’s leading golf organizations, including the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM), the Michigan Section of the PGA, and the Michigan Golf Course Superintendents Association, have relied on Johnson’s editorial skills and network. In 2012, the Michigan Golf Course Association recognized Johnson with its Bruce Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the game.

Kircher, 59, following his late father, Everett, into the MGHOF, has maintained if not elevated the family traditions of vision, excellence, customer service, and community support for Boyne Resorts, the largest family-owned four-season resort company in North America. Long a leader in northern Michigan golf, Boyne boasts 11 courses in Michigan and annually hosts a number of tournaments, including the 2024 Michigan Amateur (fifth time at The Highlands at Harbor Springs) that started today, as well as the Tournament of Champions held continuously since 1982. Drawn to the game as a junior, Kircher became a scratch golfer, but he also has a long history of advancing and promoting northern Michigan travel and golf. He was a founding supporter of America’s Summer Golf Capital Association, the groundbreaking collaborative that positioned northern Michigan as a national golf destination. In that vein, Kircher is credited with bringing Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf to Bay Harbor in 1998, introducing viewers from around the globe to the high caliber of Michigan golf. A staunch supporter of junior golf and the First Tee of Northern Michigan, Kircher is a past chair of the Michigan Travel Commission and served two terms as a governor-appointed commissioner.

VandenBerg, 58, has demonstrated playing excellence at both the state and national levels. Originally from Mattawan, Mich., where he served seven years as President of the Kalamazoo Golf Association, VandenBerg is the only golfer to win the Michigan Amateur, GAM Championship and GAM Mid-Amateur Championship, all prestigious amateur titles, in the same year (2000). Later, he moved to Pulaski, N.Y., and focused on his career and building a financial management business. After turning 55, however, VandenBerg began playing in more national Opens and two U.S. Senior Amateurs. In all, he has competed in eight USGA championships. The past two years are particularly noteworthy as VandenBerg was ranked runner-up in Golfweek’s Senior Player of the Year in 2022 before being named Golfweek’s Senior Player of the Year last season. In 2023, his amazing year was highlighted by 13 top-five finishes in 20 starts on the national amateur tournament circuit. During Michigan’s golf season, VandenBerg regularly visits home to play in tournaments by maintaining his GAM membership. In May, he captured the 16th GAM Senior Match Play Championship in Ann Arbor.

The MGHOF is a heralded collection of portraits, plaques and memorabilia that currently commemorates 137 members, including Walter Hagen, Chuck Kocsis and Dave Hill, and more current notables Dan Pohl, Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins. The collection is housed and displayed in the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center at Ferris State University’s Katke facility.

The MGHOF is administered by the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Committee, which is funded through the non-profit Michigan Golf Foundation (501(c)(3)) since 1996 and includes 17 people representing a cross-section of the state’s golf associations as well as golf media. The MGHOF committee conducts an annual election to recognize the achievements of competitive Michigan golfers, but also the accomplishments of individuals who have contributed to the game. For more information and to learn about the current members of the Hall of Fame, visit mghof.org

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