Michigan Golf Community Mourn Vartan Kupelian

In his final writing piece before retiring from The Detroit News in 2008 Vartan Kupelian wrote that there was no looking back.

“It was a great run but it’s time to move on,” he said in the “Behind the Scenes” column he wrote with Mike O’Hara, who retired on the same day.

“It’s true that when you have a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

As a golf writer then for the Grand Rapids Press and competitor of Kupelian on the golf beat, I joked with him about that column when we played together a month or so later in a Golf Association of Michigan outing.

I told him nobody had ever accused him of working. He laughed, sort of. Then he bet me $2 three ways and beat me by about 10 shots. With a smile as we left the 18th green and I paid up he suggested I might need to work on my game.

Vartan, who died Thursday after battling heart issues and diabetes, is in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, and also served for several years on the MGHOF committee. He is also an honorary Golf Association of Michigan governor who also served as a communication committee chairman for six years.

He followed my mentor Jack Berry on the golf beat at The Detroit News, but I had known him several years at that point dating to my student days at Michigan State when he covered the Spartans.

On the golf beat I played a lot of early morning golf with him in a lot of nice places before working at tournaments. He didn’t talk a lot on the course, but I figured one day we had become friends when he invited me to play a round of golf with him and the daughter he often talked about, Lisa.

None of us played all that well that day, but Vartan was smiling especially when I praised one of Lisa’s shots. He was in his happy place.

In 2019 Vartan helped me and fellow Michigan Golf Hall of Fame committee members Jack Berry and Terry Moore edit biographies of the members of the hall. I had Vartan, Jack and Terry, inductees all, work on their own.

He sent it back the next day. It was cleaned up in Vartan style: comprehensively and quickly. He was never one to sweat a deadline. I worked in the same press rooms for golf, the NHL, NBA, MLB, MSU and more over the years, and I remember he was always packing up and leaving as I labored on.

He was elected to the MGHOF in 2014 and his bio follows:

Vartan Kupelian covered his first major golf championship in 1973 – Johnny Miller’s historic U.S. Open triumph at Oakmont Country Club. In the next 40 years, he covered more than 100 major championship across all tours.

A graduate of Wayne State University, Vartan began covering sports for The Detroit News, eventually becoming the hockey beat writer covering Red Wings hockey. His career included covering five Olympic Games, both Summer and Winter in five countries, and covering every major sporting event in the United States, including Super Bowls, Stanley Cup playoffs, the World Series and NBA finals before transitioning to writing golf full-time in 1994.

In 2009, he was elected to serve a two-year term as president of the Golf Writers Association of America, a group of 1,000 journalists from around the world.

As journalism changed, Vartan kept pace, becoming a lead writer for Masters.com, a weekly columnist at PGATOUR.com, Champions Tour Insider, Senior Correspondent for the Global Golf Post and Equipment Editor of PGA Magazine. As a radio/TV personality Vartan has appeared on the Golf Channel, CNN, BBC, and many local TV and radio shows across the country.

He is a recipient of the Golf Association of Michigan’s prestigious Distinguished Service Award.

Vartan and I shared many friends and connections. They reached out as they heard Thursday of his passing.

David Graham, retired executive director of the GAM for 18 years, called Vartan a great friend of golf in Michigan.

“During my time in running the GAM he was an extraordinary journalist who always asked good questions and wrote well thought out stories about the business,” he said. “I was so proud to be at the ceremony at the Masters when he became the president of the (Golf Writers Association of America). He was truly a credit to us from Michigan. He was a total professional who understood how to tell a good story and not make himself the story. He was a credit to the profession of journalism.”

Kevin Helm, executive director for the Michigan Section PGA, said he was sorry to hear of his passing.

“The world of sports journalism has lost a great one. Vartan was a tremendous friend to the Michigan PGA and the entire golf world and he will be sorely missed.”

O’Hara, his column writing partner at the The Detroit News, and a longtime Lions beat coverage guy, took to Twitter with a perfect Tweet.

“A sense of personal loss with the passing of Vartan Kupelian,” he wrote. “We worked together dating to our days at Wayne State’s Daily Collegian, and as partners on a column with The Detroit News. We left The News on the same day in 2008 and remained friends. None better than Vartan. RIP.”

Michael Patrick Shiels, radio host of The Big Show heard on a state-wide network, author and travel and golf writer, took to Facebook with photo of him with Vartan at The Masters.

Shiels wrote: “God rest my beloved friend and mentor Vartan Kupelian and comfort Betty and his loyal daughter Lisa. He literally led me to a writing career and around the golf world.”

Shiels also shared his thoughts via phone: “To this day I think of Vartan every time I am on the tee standing over a drive because he would always encourage me by saying, ‘Just get the hole started.’ It’s a great philosophy for life as well – from a calm, wise gentleman.”

The golfers reacted on social media and with personal messages, too. Michigan Golf Hall of Famers Jack Seltzer and Jeff Roth were among them. He knew many golfers from around the world and penned four books, including a notable one on Michigan golf legend Chuck Kocsis.

The GAM is in touch with the Kupelian family and we will pass along celebration of life information as we receive it

MICHIGAN GOLF HALL OF FAME INDUCTION MOVED TO 2021

  BIG RAPIDS – The induction of the 2020 class to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame will be rescheduled for 2021.

  Originally scheduled for Saturday, June 6, 2020 at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Club, the induction was postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns with the hope that a fall ceremony could be presented. The MGHOF Committee voted Thursday to work on presenting the 2020 class as the 2021 class and not elect another class in 2021.

  “We will induct what is now the 2021 class next June provided we don’t have some of the same public health issues we face at this time,” Greg Johnson, chairman of the MGHOF said. “Facilities at the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center, the home of our Hall of Fame, remain closed as part of Ferris State University, and we feel it is in the best interests of all involved to follow current health guidelines and stay safe.”

  In February the class was announced. It includes David Graham, former executive director of the Golf Association of Michigan, Holt’s Julie Massa, a dominant senior golfer, Bay City’s Roy Schultheiss, a winner of both the Michigan Amateur and the GAM Championship, and Dick Stewart, a celebrated former head PGA golf professional at Kalamazoo Country Club.

  “The inductees will have their day, their induction, but at this point we are mindful of their health and the health of their friends, loved ones and the greater golf community who would be part of the celebration,” Johnson said.

  The MGHOF is a heralded collection of portraits, plaques and memorabilia that currently commemorates 127 members, including Walter Hagen, Chuck Kocsis, Walter Burkemo, Shirley Spork and more current notables Dave and Mike Hill, 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 late Ken Janke Sr. is both a co-founder and a member of the MGHOF.

  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 18 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 accomplishments of individuals who have contributed to the growth of the game.

  For more information and to learn about the current members of the Hall of Fame, visit mghof.org, or contact MGHOF Administrator Loretta Larkin at llarkin@michigan-golf-foundation.com, 248-719-0650. 

MGHOF RAFFLE: Seven Winners Named

CONGRATULATE THE WINNERS:

  1. Scott Bohlen, Hartland
  2. Matthew Magnotte, Clinton Township
  3. Mike Gwasdacus, Hudsonville
  4. Wendy Burlingham, Kalamazoo
  5. Brian LeFevre, Ypsilanti
  6. John Jessup, Traverse City
  7. Guy Golomb, Schoolcraft

The drawing was held today, June 6, per our state raffle license. All proceeds fund the Michigan Golf Foundation, which administers the selection of the inductees and produces the MGHOF displays in the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Course. Prizes not available for 2020 will be delivered in 2021 with help from the MGHOF Committee and gracious donors.

The seven winners drawn in one through seven order will choose in that order, for example winner No. 1 makes a choice, and then six prizes remain to No. 2 to choose from and so on.

THEY WILL CHOOSE FROM THE FOLLOWING PRIZES:

•             Golf for 3 at Crystal Downs CC with a member of Crystal Downs.

•             Golf for 3 at Detroit GC with a member of DGC.

•             Golf for 4 at Country Club of Jackson.

•             Golf for 4 at Birmingham CC.

•             4 tickets to the Meijer LPGA Classic at Blythefield CC and golf for four at Blythefield.

•             4 tickets to the Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills CC and golf for four at Warwick Hills.

•             Harbor Shores Golf Package.

Thank you to all participants for supporting the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

MGHOF Mourning Larry Adderley, A Voice For Sports In Michigan

The Hall of Fame learned recently of Larry Adderley’s passing.
He was one of the founding members of the MGHOF Committee in 1982 and served through 2018 when he withdrew because of his health.
Dementia was his final health battle, and due to his wishes, his family did not have a memorial, create an obituary or make a public announcement. He was cremated after passing Dec. 20, 2019. He was 82.
“He never wanted a big deal made about him,” his wife Linda said this week. “He was private and proud, and he missed his golf trips, especially the ones up north, and we would laugh and tell stories about the golfers, the people we met and things they said.”
Adderley is remembered as a broadcaster in the Detroit market for WXYZ-TV, his radio and television work for the Detroit Tigers and being involved with his longtime friend Jim Brandstatter with the original Michigan Replay TV Shows at the University of Michigan.
A must-see is his creative 1976 jogging interview with legendary coach Bo Schembechler following the coach’s heart surgery:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1MVLGjClsw
“I spent a lot of time with Larry, and he was just a great guy, a great professional and very talented,” Brandstatter said. “The last time I visited him, about a year ago now, we had a great talk, shared some memories. I’m so glad we went to see him that day.”
After his broadcasting career in Detroit, Adderley developed and was the talent for the Michigan Golf Network. He covered major Michigan golf tournaments, including Michigan PGA events in addition to the Buick Open and other tour events, and provided live and taped reports to radio stations across the state. He wasn’t timid with his questions. He was always prepared.
Tim Hygh, CEO of Mackinac Island Tourism, coordinated press and media coverage of Michigan Section PGA major championships for 20 years across the state as a summer sideline while working in the radio industry. Larry’s Michigan Golf Network was part of the package.
“Larry brought a tinge of glamour to our traveling media centers,” Hygh said. “He was the silver fox with the beautiful wife who made the most of being on the road. Tales of their wonderful dinners with exotic wines were always welcomed to start another sunup to sunrise tournament day.
“Larry kept adapting to an ever-changing world of radio so that names like Roth, Brady, Erskine and Gillis were known all over Michigan. For us, we’ll have a lasting memory of Larry working in the corner of a quiet media center, hunched over his laptop and recorder with cheaters and earphones on, then clearing his throat and saying: ‘In 3-2-1…’”
Larry could also be seen golfing on television sets at Michigan golf resorts for years, usually in resort marketing productions interviewing and or playing with the head golf professionals of courses and talking about the merits of the resorts. He did voice work for radio and some television commercials, too.
As a founding committee member at the Hall of Fame, he would volunteer to bring in friends and fellow broadcasters to serve as master of ceremonies for annual induction events. He would grudgingly though seamlessly fill in when needed.
He loved to play golf, though he would lament his skill level even as he often played better than others in the group.
Larry, a resident of Edmore when he passed away, was from Beverly Hills in the Detroit area and a Michigan State graduate in communications. A gifted athlete, he was a walk-on to the football team while a student at MSU.
“Let’s put it this way, I was confused with Herb Adderley only in last name references,” he said when pressed to talk about the experience.
He was a proud and critical fan of the Spartans, a season-ticket holder, alumni club member and we often partnered in charity and media golf outings.
He would call sometimes just to talk sports, especially golf or the Spartans, and he had the perfect broadcasting voice that immediately identified him.
He was the voice of Michigan golf for several years, and he was always the best-dressed guy in the room.
Rest in peace Adds.
-Greg Johnson, chairman MGHOF

Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Induction Postponed

  The induction of the 2020 class to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, originally scheduled for Saturday, June 6 at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Club, has been postponed.

  The Hall of Fame Committee is exploring options including possibly rescheduling for later in the year.

  Katke Golf Club and its facilities, including the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center that houses the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, is currently closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus.

   In February the class was announced. It includes David Graham, former executive director of the Golf Association of Michigan, Holt’s Julie Massa, a dominant senior golfer, Bay City’s Roy Schultheiss, a winner of both the Michigan Amateur and the GAM Championship, and Dick Stewart, a celebrated former head PGA golf professional at Kalamazoo Country Club.

  “The inductees will have their day, their induction, but at this point we are mindful of their health and the health of their friends, loved ones and the greater golf community who would be part of the celebration,” Greg Johnson, chairman of the MGHOF, said.

  For information, contact MGHOF Administrator Loretta Larkin at llarkin@michigan-golf-foundation.com, 248-719-0650. Learn about the Hall of Fame at mghof.org

Fabulous Foursome Elected to Michigan Golf Hall of Fame

BIG RAPIDS –  David Graham, former executive director of the Golf Association of Michigan, Holt’s Julie Massa, a dominant senior golfer, Bay City’s Roy Schultheiss, a winner of both the Michigan Amateur and the GAM Championship, and Dick Stewart, a celebrated former head PGA golf professional at Kalamazoo Country Club, have been elected to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame (MGHOF).

  The induction celebration is planned for Saturday, June 6, 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. The 2019 class will bring the number of inductees to 131.

  “This fabulous foursome reflects the best of Michigan golf in playing ability, leadership, service and character,” Greg Johnson, MGHOF committee chairman, said in announcing the 2020 class. “Mark your calendars now to come help us celebrate in June at the Hall of Fame.”

  Graham, who is 63 and recently moved to Pinehurst, N.C., from Lake Orion, retired in 2019 after serving as the GAM’s executive director for 18 years, which was the longest tenure of an executive in the 100-year history of the association. He is credited by the GAM for having designed and implemented a successful turnaround of the association from near bankruptcy in 2001. Increased membership of clubs, golfers, tournament offerings and participation, creation of programs and events and the launching of the GAM Foundation and its work with Youth on Course are among his many contributions and accomplishments.

  Massa, 56, is a native of Oregon and former Oregon Women’s Amateur Champion who played collegiate golf at Arizona State University. She has been a Holt resident since 1989 and has won 14 times in GAM championships, including two GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur titles and two Michigan Women’s Senior Amateur titles, and has been named the GAM Senior Women’s Player of the Year for five consecutive seasons including 2019. Over the years she has played in 20 United States Golf Association (USGA) national championships, including the U.S. Women’s Amateur twice, the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur nine times, and the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur five times.

  Schultheiss, 64, was dominant in the Bay City area and on the state amateur golf scene in the 1980s and 90s when he collected titles in the Michigan Amateur in 1984, the GAM Championship in 1990 and ’95 and was the 1991 GAM Mid-Amateur winner. He has qualified for match play 17 times in the Michigan Amateur over the years and was GAM Player of the Year in 1984. He has played well on the national level, too, having competed in five USGA national championships, including the U.S. Amateur three times in 1980, ’90 and ’91. He played in two U.S. Mid-Amateur Champions and made it through to match play each time. He won two rounds of matches in 1991. 

  Stewart, 67, retired in 2018 after 40 years as the head golf professional at Kalamazoo Country Club. A native of Petoskey, Stewart was elected to the Michigan PGA Hall of Fame in 2018. He is a seven-time winner of the Michigan PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award, which recognizes  the PGA professional who best demonstrates exceptional character, integrity and leadership in mentoring others, and he is also a two-time winner of the Horton Smith Award, which honors PGA professionals for helping to educate other professionals. A former Michigan PGA president, he has helped place 22 former assistants in head professional positions across the country and helped train 4,000 caddies via the KCC program.

  The MGHOF is a heralded collection of portraits, plaques and memorabilia that currently commemorates 127 members, including Walter Hagen, Chuck Kocsis, Horton Smith and more current notables Dave and Mike Hill, 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 late Ken Janke Sr. is co-founder and a member of the MGHOF.

  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 18 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 accomplishments of individuals who have contributed to the growth of the game. For more information and to learn about the current members of the Hall of Fame, visit mghof.org.

INFORMATION CONTACT: Loretta Larkin, MGHOF administrator, llarkin@michigan-golf-foundation.com248-719-0650.

INDUCTEE PHOTOS AVAILABLE: Contact Greg Johnson, gregeeee24@gmail.com616-560-8995

New Website Launch Part of Big Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Weekend

BIG RAPIDS – A new class, a new website, a new home and raffle winners make for a big Michigan Golf Hall of Fame weekend ahead.

Go now to www.mghof.org to see the new official website of the Hall of Fame.

Go to http://events.eventease.com/mghof/ and order tickets before the Friday night deadline for a chance to win six great golf prizes in The Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Raffle. The drawing is Saturday.

As previously announced, the class of the late George Bayer, Ron Beurmann, Bernie Friedrich and Al Mengert will be inducted Sunday evening to the Hall of Fame, now housed in the new Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Club. In addition, the Golf Association of Michigan will receive a special award marking its centennial year of providing services to Michigan golf.

“We have a lot to celebrate this weekend, a new home that will allow us to grow and thrive in a great golf and learning environment, a new website that serves as a source for Michigan golf history, and especially our 2019 class of the Hall of Fame and the Golf Association of Michigan,” Greg Johnson, chairman of the MGHOF, said.

“We are proud the center is named for Ken Janke Sr., our Hall of Fame co-founder. He was a man of vision who loved the game of golf, and his son, Ken and Ken’s wife Kim, honored this project with a great financial gift to help bring life to his vision. It’s a great weekend for the Hall of Fame, a great weekend for Ferris State University, a great weekend for the Janke family and so many other wonderful donors, and a great weekend for golf in Michigan.”

The new website, mghof.org, includes updated biographies of the 123 current members of the Hall of Fame as well as other information.

The weekend is centered around the induction of Bayer, a former Detroit Golf Club head professional and PGA Tour player, Beurmann, head professional at Country Club of Jackson, Friedrich, senior vice-president of golf operations and resort sales for Boyne Resorts, and Mengert, a former Oakland Hills Country Club head professional. They will bring the Hall of Fame’s membership to 127.

The special award going to the Golf Association of Michigan is just the fourth special award presented in the Hall of Fame’s history.

The Hall of Fame Raffle proceeds go to the non-profit Michigan Golf Foundation, which funds the Hall of Fame. The MGHOF is administered by the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Committee, which is funded through the foundation (501(c) (3) since 1996) and includes 18 people representing the state’s primary golf associations as well as media.

CONTACTS: MGHOF Administrator Loretta Larkin at llarkin@michigan-golf-foundation.com or 248-719-0650. Greg Johnson, chairman, at greggie24@hotmail.com or 616-560-8995.

INFORMATION: www.mghof.org

Foursome Elected to Michigan Golf Hall of Fame; Golf Association of Michigan Honored

 BIG RAPIDS –  The late George Bayer, a former Detroit Golf Club head professional and PGA Tour player, Ron Beurmann, head professional at Country Club of Jackson, Bernie Friedrich, senior vice-president of golf operations and resort sales for Boyne Resorts, and Al Mengert, a former Oakland Hills Country Club head professional, have been elected to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame (MGHOF).

 In addition, the MGHOF has elected to present just its fourth Special Award in history to the Golf Association of Michigan, which in 2019 is celebrating its centennial year of service to the game.

 The induction celebration is planned for Sunday, June 2, at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Club, home of the new Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center which will soon house the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame. The 2019 class will bring the number of inductees to 127.

 Bayer, who died in 2003 in California at the age of 77, was once one of golf’s longest drivers and won four times on the PGA Tour between 1957 and 1960. He was the head golf professional at Detroit Golf Club for 12 years (1972-1983). Prior to becoming a golf professional at age 29, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Bayer was an All-American college football tackle and end for the University of Washington and was drafted and played briefly in the NFL. The native of Bremerton, Wash., was also a veteran of the U.S. Navy. While working at Detroit Golf Club he was the winner of the 1973 Michigan Open Championship.

 Beurmann, 58, has been the head professional at CC of Jackson for 26 years, and one of the Michigan PGA Section’s top golfers. He won the Michigan PGA Professional Championship in 2010, and the Michigan PGA Match Play Championship in 1998, and has also won a Michigan PGA Senior Championship (2013) and two Michigan Senior Open Championship titles in (2012, ’13). He was the Michigan PGA Player of the Year in 2004, the Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 2014 and twice has been the Michigan PGA Merchandiser of the Year (1998, 2008). He has also mentored caddies, including 25 who became Evans Scholars.

 Friedrich, 66, has worked for Boyne Resorts for 44 years and currently oversees a staff of over 200 employees in agronomy, course and golf shop operations for 12 golf courses, including 10 at three resorts in Michigan and one course each at resorts in Maine and Montana. He is a two-time Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year (1998, 2001), a four-time Michigan PGA Resort Merchandizer of the Year and has served in various capacities with The First Tee of Northern Michigan, the Michigan Golf Course Association and the Michigan PGA Section. He is also co-founder and a leader of the annual Harbor Cup golf event, which has raised over $400,000 for charitable food projects in Northern Michigan.

 Mengert, 89 and a resident of Carefree, Ariz., was a club professional who also played on the PGA Tour. He worked at many notable clubs, including Oakland Hills Country Club as head professional from 1976 to ’86. He won the 1976 and 1980 Michigan PGA Professional Championships, three Michigan Senior PGA Professional titles (1980, ’83, ‘86)  and two Michigan Senior Open titles (’83 and ’85) as well as several other PGA section titles from around the country. He was a top-ranked amateur when he lost in the final match of the 1952 U.S. Amateur to Jack Westland. He worked as a club professional for steady income, yet played in 27 Grand Slam major championships, including nine U.S Opens and eight Masters Tournaments. The U.S. Air Force veteran was also the host professional at Oakland Hills for the 1979 PGA Championship, the 1981 U.S. Senior Open and the 1985 U.S. Open.

  The MGHOF is a heralded collection of portraits, plaques and memorabilia that currently commemorates 123 members, including Walter Hagen, Chuck Kocsis, Horton Smith and more current notables Dave and Mike Hill, Dan Pohl, Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins. The collection will soon be housed and displayed in the new Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center at Ferris State University’s Katke facility. The late Ken Janke Sr. is co-founder and a member of the MGHOF.

  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 18 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 accomplishments of individuals who have contributed to the growth of the game.

MEDIA CONTACT: Greg Johnson, chairman MGHOF, 616-560-8995, greggie24@hotmail.com

Golf Hall of Fame: Harding, Williams-Hoak, LaFontaine and Erickson Inducted

BIG RAPIDS – A notable foursome joined the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Saturday night.

Tom Harding of South Lyon, a winning tour professional and PGA instructor, Debbie Williams-Hoak of Saline, a former LPGA player and award-winning coach, Gordon LaFontaine of Houghton Lake, executive director emeritus of the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF) and groundbreaking fundraiser, and the late Bud Erickson of West Bloomfield, a former executive director of the LPGA and the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM), were inducted at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Club.

“I still can’t believe I was included,” said Williams-Hoak. “What an incredible honor. I’m so humbled by this.”    LaFontaine called his life in golf service an incredible journey. “In the grass cutting business, I met some of the greatest people in the world,” he said. Harding cited the support of his wife Peggy, her daughter Esther and his three daughters Caroline, Priscilla and Elizabeth, who in 2019 will all be part of the Michigan State women’s golf program. “We are a family that plays golf,” he said. “This is a big deal to us.” Jon Erickson, Bud’s son, said their father loved the social aspect of golf. “I always said he wasn’t the life of the party, but he was the guy next to the guy who was life of the party,” he said.    Erickson, who died last August at the age of 94, was an Army Air Corps veteran and graduate of Michigan State University who before his career in golf was a public relations director and assistant general manager for the Detroit Lions when they won three NFL Championships in the 1950s. In golf he was executive director of the LPGA from 1970-75 credited with adding tournaments and purses and was executive director of the GAM from 1980-84. He also served as tournament director for Oakland Hills Country Club as host site of the 1979 PGA Championship, the 1981 U.S. Senior Open, the 1985 U.S. Open and the 1991 U.S. Senior Open. Harding, 53 and a teaching professional at Kendall Academy of Golf in Ypsilanti, played on the Asian, Australian and Web.com tours and won the Canadian PGA Championship in 1991. After his tour career, the Michigan State graduate and Spartan golfer was twice the Michigan PGA Player of the Year and won four Michigan PGA Section major titles including the 1997 Michigan PGA Professional Championship. He has been at Kendall Academy since 2004 where he has been named one of Golf Digest’s Top 15 Instructors in Michigan five times since 2011. Williams-Hoak, 58 and golf academy director at Brookside Golf Club in Saline, was an All-America track and field athlete in javelin at the University of Michigan before taking up golf at age 31. At age 40 she was a celebrated rookie on the LPGA Tour. Before turning professional she was a two-time Michigan Women’s Amateur champion and qualified for seven USGA national championships. She won the Michigan Women’s Open in 2000 and twice lost in playoffs on the LPGA’s Symetra Tour. She coaches the boys and girls golf teams at Saline High School and has twice been named a state high school golf coach of the year.    LaFontaine, 73 and owner of Pine View Highlands Golf Course in Houghton Lake, retired in January after 37 years as executive director of the MTF where he administered $500,000 in annual revenue and product funds, helped to raise over $1.1 million annual donations of equipment, product and funds, oversaw $1.3 million in endowments and was instrumental in the creation of the world renown Hancock Turfgrass Research Center at Michigan State University. The MSU graduate has won multiple awards, and is a past winner of the Golf Course Superintendent’s Association of America Distinguished Service Award. The MGHOF is a heralded collection of portraits, plaques and memorabilia that now commemorates 123 members, including Walter Hagen, Chuck Kocsis, Horton Smith and more current notables Dave and Mike Hill, Dan Pohl, Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins. The collection will soon be housed and displayed in the new Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center that is under construction at Ferris State University’s Katke golf facility. The late Ken Janke Sr. was co-founder and is a member of the MGHOF. 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 18 members 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 accomplishments of individuals who have contributed to the growth of the game. Find out more at michigan-golf-foundation.com. MEDIA CONTACT: Greg Johnson, co-chairman MGHOF, 616-560-8995, greggie24@hotmail.com PHOTO ATTACHED: The Class of 2018, from left Tom Harding, Gordon LaFontaine and Debbie Williams- Hoak. LaFontaine holds the Hall of Fame plaque of Bud Erickson.

Speech at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center

This speech was given on April 28 by Terry Moore, co-chair of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center—the new home of the MGHOF— at Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI.

Good morning, everyone! On behalf of my co-chair Greg Johnson and the 16 other Board members of the Michigan Golf Foundation, let me say this is a great day for Ferris State and for Michigan golf. Today is the result of a successful partnership between Ferris State and the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame and with the generous support of many alumni, organizations and donors, especially lead donors like Ken & Kim Janke and Mike Bigford. As such, the HOF is closer to moving into its new home. For over 5 years, the plaques, portraits, and artifacts have been held in safekeeping here at Ferris State with only a few items on public display. With today’s groundbreaking, we’re taking the next steps in our path for opening the doors to the HOF. Greg and I along with our entire Board were overjoyed with the news of this groundbreaking. BUT the reality really hit us about moving into a new home | when we started getting sales calls from 2 Men and a Truck! As for why we’re so honored to be here today, let me quote three of our past chairs who have all given so much to our Board and to golf: Immediate past chair Fritz Balmer said, “What better place to exhibit the Hall of Fame than at Ferris State, the birthplace of the Professional Golf Management curriculum. Putting the students in touch with golf history and the people who made that history is a perfect fit.” Another past chair, dynamic golf leader and generous donor Bob McMasters wisely said, “Individuals may come and go but an institution like a university lasts forever. Ferris State has the resources to ensure a sustain- able future for the HALL OF FAME. And besides, it’s at a golf course with a state-of-the-art learning center. What can be any better than that?” Sara Wold, another energetic chair and major donor, said: “We are so excited to have a new home for the Hall of Fame. It’s important to preserve the legacy of women’s golf, and introduce the game to future women players as well. Ferris State is a great location.” At its core, the HOF is about recognizing and preserving the stories and the achievements of Michigan golf. With the new Ken Janke Senior Golf Learning Center, the Hall of Fame will celebrate the legacy of its notable champions and contributors. In remembering these stories, this slice of Pure Michigan,we hope students and visitors—golfers and non-golfers alike— will find a rich history, valuable lessons and perhaps even inspiration. At this time, let me express our gratitude to several key individuals and organizations: First, thank you to the Board of Trustees of FERRIS STATE and to President Eisler for their vision, their wholehearted support, and for their bulldog determination for this project. Thank you to the staff of the PGM program as well as the Advancement & Marketing team or all of their efforts. At the PGM program, we must mention Mark Wilson who years ago read a press release story by Greg Johson titled, “Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Seeking New Home” and then contacted us. We commend Mark, a HOF member, for being not only an astute reader of the Rules of Golf but also of urgent press releases! Thank you to the co-founders of the HOF in 1982, Stan Aldridge and Ken Janke Sr., who conceived and nurtured it and made it a lasting part of Michigan golf history. Thanks too to those charter committee members still on the Board today: Larry Adderly, Jack Berry and Jim Dewling. We’re indebted to them for their long and loyal service and counsel. A thank you to all 8 of our member organizations—as well as their Boards of Directors— for their unwavering support over many years. And a special mention to these lead donors: The Golf Association of Michigan, Michigan Golf Course Superintendents Association, Michigan PGA, and the Michigan Women’s Golf Association. Finally let me share a few closing thoughts and words from Meg Mallon, who grew up in Michigan, and became an 18-time LPGA winner, Solheim Cup captain and a member of Michigan’s and the World Golf Hall of Fame. Meg said: “What separates the great players from the very good ones are their work ethic, their of love of the game and their passion for competing.” Meg also understood what legendary golfer Ben Hogan meant when he was once asked what was the secret of his golf swing. “It’s in the dirt,” he said, meaning the dirt of the practice range and all the time and sacrifice spent there to be a champion. Today at this Groundbreaking we’re inspired by so many champions and supporters of both Ferris State and the Mich. Golf Hall of Fame, who made this day possible by their work ethic, by their love of the game and for learning, and by their dedication and passion. Yes, the secret and the promise of this groundbreaking is “in the dirt” and so much more. Thank you. And see you at the Grand Opening! —Terry Moore