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Michigan PGA sets example for other PGA sections
by Ken Devine

CEO and Executive Director of the Michigan PGA

Michigan PGA Professionals really believe that golf is a game for everyone, and the Michigan Section of the PGA of America does all it can to help make the game accessible and enjoyable to everyone interested.

Our professionals assist players at golf shops, driving ranges, learning centers, daily-fee, municipal, and resort facilities, and at private clubs. Equipment fitting, instruction, handicapping, outing and rules assistance and lifelong learning each are a part of the daily responsibilities the Michigan Section Professionals offer and deliver. Remember, only a PGA Professional is fully qualified to fit players for the right specifications, teach people to play and organize competitive competitions for enjoyment. Only a PGA Professional can do all of those things.

This year, our Professionals participated in "Play Golf America," a program co-sponsored by Golf Digest that offered free 10-minute lessons to people who wished to learn more about the game or get a quick fix to improve.

The Michigan PGA and its Professionals also became involved in the exciting new "Midnight Golf Program" in Detroit. Midnight Golf invites inner-city, young adults aged 17-22 to free evening sessions where they learn to play golf and are taught valuable life skills. Thanks to PGA support and the efforts of volunteers, the young men and women are picked up and driven to classes in the twilight hours when research shows they are most likely to be otherwise exposed to temptations.

The Michigan PGA also supports The First Tee of Michigan, an initiative that is succeeding in making golf available to kids in urban and rural areas where they might otherwise not have access to golf and the values it teaches. We also conduct the Michigan PGA Junior Championship, held this July at Bedford Valley Golf Club in Battle Creek. The winners of the boys and girls divisions qualify to join nearly 100 of the nation's top junior golfers in the 26th Westfield Junior PGA Championship, July 18-21, at Westfield Group Country Club in Westfield Center, Ohio.

Of course, we conduct professional competitions at the highest level, as well. The Michigan PGA's sponsors provide countless opportunities statewide for our professionals to compete in various formats at exemplary facilities. In fact, the Michigan PGA has the strongest tournament program in the country. Michigan's elite golf media help spread the word about our tournaments--especially our major championships. The Detroit Newspapers Michigan Open will once again be held on The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. The tournament, with a purse of $110,000 dates back to 1916. Scott Hebert, a three-time Michigan Open champion, is the defending champion. The Detroit Newspapers Michigan PGA Tournament of Champions, with a purse of $100,000, is held at Boyne Mountain Resort on the Alpine and Monument courses. This tournament is special because it matches champions of all varieties against each other: men, women, seniors, juniors and amateurs all compete side-by-side. Yardage adjustments and varying tees allow for course equalization. In 2000, Michael Harris, a young man from Troy who had just turned from professional, outlasted Hebert to win.

The Michigan PGA Championship, presented by Detroit Newspapers and played for a purse of $80,000, is held at Shanty Creek Resort in August. The year's biggest field of professionals competes on The Legend, a course designed by Arnold Palmer and Cedar River Golf Club, which was designed by Tom Weiskopf and opened two years ago. Brian Cairns, of Orchard Lake Country Club, won in 2000.

The Detroit Newspapers Michigan Women's Open will once again be held at The Polo Fields Golf and Country Club in Ann Arbor, where a very strong field of women compete for a purse in excess of $20,000.

In September, the Lincoln Mercury Classic will be held on the R&S Scharf Course, a Rick Smith-design that opened last year at Oakland University. The purse for that match play event is $50,000. Over 130 players attempt to qualify for the 63 match play positions. The defending champion, in this case Prestwick Village professional Jeff Gniewek, automatically qualifies. Maybe the most enjoyable aspect of these major championships is the dynamite pro-am events that precede each of them. To see professionals and amateurs competing at such great golf venues is terrific for Michigan and terrific for the game of golf.

July 2001 Issue Table of Content
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