Written By: Greg Johnson
ANN ARBOR – Tom Gieselman of Commerce Township and Scott Strickland of Bloomfield Hills executed an alternate shot birdie to perfection on the final hole and won the 14th GAM Senior/Mid-Amateur Team Championship Wednesday at Barton Hills Country Club.
The closing birdie, off a tee shot by Strickland, a wedge by Gieselman and a final birdie putt by Strickland, earned the longtime friends a third victory in the finals of the popular championship that features a Senior golfer (55-and-over) teamed up with a Mid-Amateur golfer (25-and-over).
Six teams that won or finished second in the trio of first-day sectional competitions hosted earlier in the season by Western Golf & Country Club in Redford, Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor and Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club, competed for a final 18 holes. They played four-ball, also known as best-ball, for nine holes and foursomes, also known as alternate shot, for nine holes. A field of 124 teams, or 248 of Michigan’s top golfers, played in the opening segment.
The final birdie by Gieselman and Strickland gave them a 5-under 65, which was just enough to clip the runner-up team of David LeVan of Ann Arbor and Andrew Tindall of Chelsea. LeVan and Tindall also birdied 18 for a final 66.
David Vaclav of Flat Rock and Matt Mahanic of Grosse Ile tied with the team of Greg Davies of West Bloomfield Hills and Anthony Sorentino of Rochester Hills at 69.
Strickland said he heard his cell phone buzz with a message and figured it was his father-in-law letting him know they had a chance to win.
“He has a tendency to text when that’s happening,” Strickland said. “I had a feeling we were tied so we needed a birdie. I was just trying to get Goose (Gieselman) a shot somewhere on the left side of the fairway so we had a good angle with the pin. And he hit an awesome wedge, right where we needed it for a birdie putt. He gave me a perfect read and I was fortunate to roll it in.”
Gieselman said it was perfect execution.
“We both played really solid today and really didn’t hit any bad shots that put the other guy in a bad spot,” he said. “You’re always going to miss shots, right? But it’s such a treat to play with Scott. He’s such a good player and we have fun.”
Strickland said the duo felt they had some near misses in recent years and could have more wins in the tournament.
“So this one is pretty sweet,” he said. “I mean, it’s not an easy format to play. Some days you feel like everything just kind of goes well and it’s easy, and other day you feel like you don’t know what you are doing out there. The last two years we kind of let it slip on the back nine in alternate shot, but today we kept plodding along, made just one bogey and had a good score in alternate shot (1-under 33).”
Gieselman said they make a good team.
“Scott is very even-keeled and he’s very serious, which I love and he grinds but never hits it too far offline. He’s just one of the best players I know, so I feel lucky to be partners with him,” he said.
Strickland said having Gieselman play the senior tees as the senior golfer in the group is a big plus.
“Goose from the senior tees is a huge advantage because he hits a long way, and I feel like we both don’t get too excited out there,” he said. “We don’t get mad at each other, nobody blames anybody. We’re out there having fun.”
Gieselman called it a great cap to the season.
“Scott just got back from a trip to Italy with his wife and I’ve been traveling a lot for work, so we were looking forward to play in this,” he said. “You hate to have the season over, but it’s always good to end on a high note.”