The April 28, 2018, landmark groundbreaking for construction of the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center – the new home of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame – was a day to celebrate golf and family.
“I know he is smiling today,” Ken Janke Jr. said of his late father. “Golf was his great passion, especially its history.”
The creation of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame dates to the early 1980s. It was Ken’s idea to celebrate golf’s heritage in Michigan by honoring those who made the sport popular not only in our state, but nationally. Stan Aldrich, who had rebuilt the traditions of Indianwood Golf and Country Club, endorsed Ken’s idea and offered support in establishing the Hall of Fame.
Ken assembled a committee to represent the players, the public and the associations dedicated to the game. Members included Jack Berry of the Detroit News, Jack Saylor from the Detroit Free Press, Barry Smades of the Oakland Press, Larry Adderley, then with WXYZ-TV, Birmingham Country Club golf professional Ray Maguire, Nancy Koustas of the Women’s District Golf Association, and Jim Dewling, then president of the Michigan PGA. Janke served as the first chairman.
The first committee selected the original 1982 class of inductees following a series of meetings. Jack Berry set the tone for future inductions when he suggested that the first members of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame should be three of the most titled golfers in the history of the state. He reasoned that by establishing such a high standard, every future inductee would point with pride to being part of an elite group. The first inductees were Walter Hagen, Chuck Kocsis and Al Watrous. The induction ceremonies were held in conjunction with the 1982 Michigan PGA Professional Championship presented at Indianwood that year.
Since its inception, the Hall of Fame committee has honored people who have contributed on many levels to the advancement of golf. Additional criteria have been added over the years to acknowledge and honor the people who have extended their talents beyond championships won. Leadership, promotion and education are also essential to the game and its legacy. Ken Janke Sr., who championed fundraising through golf on a national level, was elected in 2008 to the Hall of Fame he created.
It is especially fitting that a generous gift by Ken Janke Jr. and his wife Kim has dramatically helped make possible a new permanent home of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.