Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

From The Editor
by Terry Moore

15 and counting. That's right, with this issue Michigan Golfer begins its 15th season of publishing. At first, it seems like it went by in a flash_like Tiger Woods' hip turn. But then again, you realize that when Michigan Golfer made its debut in '82, Tom Watson was the dominant player of the day, Craig Stadler would end up as the Tour money winner with a paltry $446,462, the Michigan Amateur was still being played at Belvedere, the Buick Open was the state's lone Tour stop and the only big-name northern resort course was Boyne Highlands' Robert Trent Jones layout. What a difference a decade-and-half makes.

Anyway, here are our highlights, bests, and worsts and reflections of the last 15 years:

Best shot: Ben Crenshaw's amazing upside-down, left-handed 9-iron chip shot from under the greenside pine tree at Warwick Hills' par-5 13th hole that set up a birdie and propelled him to the '86 Buick title. Runner-up: T.C. Chen's historic double-eagle at the par-5 second hole at Oakland Hills during the '85 U.S. Open.

Best shot not seen by player: 10-time National Blind Golfer's Champion Pat Browne's closest-to-pin 5-iron at the par-three 162 yard 13th hole at Sunnybrook during the '93 Fox's RP Charity tournament. Browne's shot to within 5 feet bested 125 sighted players!

Worst shot: T.C. Chen's ignominious double-hit chip shot during the final round of the '85 Open resulting in, as later described by Chen, "a double par."

Best finish: In a landslide, it's Dan Olsen's birdie-ace-birdie close to snatch victory at the '92 Boyne Tournament of Champions. Olsen's exploits were aptly summed up as "an area code finish: 3-1-3."

Worst finish: Painful to even recollect, it must be J.C. Snead's final hole collapse in the '92 Senior Players Championship at the TPC of Michigan. Leading by two shots over Dave Stockton, Snead pull-hooks his two-iron tee-shot into the hazard and winds up making a triple. Meanwhile, Stockton grabs the crown by two shots when he birdies.

Best round: This is a tough one but we'll go with Brent Veenstra's record-setting 10 under par 62 at the '93 Michigan. Runnersup: Beth Daniel's second round 63 at the '94 Olds Classic at Walnut Hills. Jack Nicklaus' 65 in his playoff victory at the '91 Senior Open at Oakland Hills. Tom Lehman's third round 65 at the '96 Open, Oakland Hills.

Worst Round: Wayne Tye, a paying Monday "qualifier" at the '94 First of America Classic at Egypt Valley, shamelessly signed his 18-hole card for a robust 121 (60-61.) (Only a heartless cynic would suggest that Tye had only 29 putts for his round.)

Best New Course Name: Treetops is just about perfect. Conjures up agreeable image, sounds fine, great for logos and is memorable. Runnersup: The Bear, St. Ives, Dunmaglas, The Gailes, Mistwood, Bay Harbor, Egypt Valley.

Best interviews: Tom Watson ('82), Chi Chi Rodriquez ('90), Greg Norman ('86), President G.R. Ford ('82), Ben Crenshaw ('87), Dan Forsman ('93), Corey Pavin ('96).

Worst Press Manners: Leonard Thompson, Beth Daniel, Raymond Floyd, Fred Couples, Payne Stewart.

Biggest Win by Homestate Player: The '95 LPGA Championship title won by Mt. Pleasant's Kelly Robbins. Runnerup: Dan Pohl winning the '86 World Series of Golf.

Unlikely Homestate Tour Winners: The UP's Becky Iverson who won '95 LPGA Friendly's Classic. Runnerup: Marshall resident John Morse's '95 Hawaiian Open title.

Best Amateur National Performances: Randy Lewis, of Alma, had a great week but finished second in the '96 U.S. Mid-Amateur televised finals match. Grandville native Lauri Berles' runnerup finish in the '96 U.S. Women's Publinx.

Best club pro national highlight: '93 National Club Pro Championship title won by Flint's Jeff Roth. Runnerup: Blythefield's Buddy Whitten's "low eight" finish to qualify for the '97 Senior PGA Tour. Worst Penalty Incident: Dewitt Weaver incurred six penalty strokes after he had hit in regulation the par-four 14th hole at the '92 Senior Players Championship pro-am. Initially putting for birdie, Weaver instead settles for a 12 and a nightmare after failing to mark his ball properly. Runnerup: In a club event, one of Jack Seltzer's members entered the USGA Book of Decisions by sheepishly inquiring of her pro: "What is the penalty for whiffing the wrong ball?"

Best televised ace: Ann Arbor club pro George "Joe" Bowman's ace in the first round of '96 PGA at Valhalla. Runnerup: Jack Seltzer's final round ace at The Bear's 9th hole in route to his '87 Michigan Open trophy.

Best Performances by AARP Members: 55-year-old Pete Green's victory in '96 Michigan Amateur, thereby winning the title in four consecutive decades. Jimmy Powell, 61, taking home both the Super Seniors and main event at the '95 First of America Classic. And the amazing Jack Van Ess, 69, winning the '96 Michigan Senior Open.

The Big 3 Reasons Why Paying Customers Get Mad at Golf Course Operations: Marriott's Joe O'Brien at the '91 Michigan Golf Summit said it all when he listed 1.) Slow play; 2) Poor course conditions; and 3) Discourteous and bad service.

2 Best Retorts to Dubious Claims that Golf Courses are Harmful to the Environment: From the '93 Michigan Summit, architect Jerry Matthews noted that 1.) "Only 30-40% of golf course land is manicured turf. All represents green space." 2.) From the '95 Summit, environmental lawyer Henry Canaby said: "All evidence to date shows that turfgrass is one of the most wonderful environmental barriers."

Best Trends: Learning centers and 2-3 hole practice areas; user-friendly designs in course architecture; increased maintenance budgets for munis; and spikeless golf shoes.

Worst Trends/Practices: cigar-smoking; upfront annual green fees for leagues; exorbitant equipment prices; and mandatory carts.

Best Career Ascendency: The golf course superintendent. The success of a golf course increasingly rests with the multi-faceted yet still underrated role of the "super."

Best Golf Tip: Goes not to Treetops famed Rick Smith but to The Meadows Don Underwood who simply suggested that the key to fairway bunker shots is "try to take the top off of the ball." Eureka!

Best Partners in a Golf Magazine: Mike Duff, Dave Foley, Art McCafferty, and Jim Neff.

Best Readers: Here's looking at you, kid. Thanks.

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