Michigan Section PGA Receives Special Award
BIG RAPIDS – The late Gerald “Jerry” Faubel, superintendent at Saginaw Country Club for over 35 years and a national turfgrass leader, Doug LaBelle II of Mount Pleasant, twice a PGA Tour player in 16 years on professional golf tours around the world, and Jean Murray of Mount Pleasant, a standout player, Golf Association of Michigan volunteer and high school golf coach, have been inducted and are part of 137 members of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame (MGHOF).
The ceremony Sunday 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, included a special appearance by Dr. Bill Pink, president of Ferris, who shared in the announcement of a new long-term tenant agreement for the Hall of Fame.
The MGHOF, founded in 1982, also presented just a sixth Historical Special Award to the Michigan Section PGA, which in 2022 celebrated 100 years as one of the 41 sections of the PGA of America.
Faubel, who passed away at home in Arcadia in December of 2022 at the age of 81, was a native of Iowa who came to Michigan for the superintendent’s job at Saginaw Country Club in 1969. He was the first president of the Mid-Michigan Turf Association and was a board member for seven years with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). Faubel also traveled around the world to promote turfgrass studies and research, served with United States Golf Association (USGA) committees in multiple roles, helped found Executive Golf Search Inc. to aid superintendents in job placement, and with legendary golf course architect Robert Trent Jones created a scholarship endowment fund.
“He would be so pleased,” said Sally, his wife. “Growing up he wanted to be a farmer, but he ended up being in golf and turfgrass and Saginaw Country Club and its members were so great to him and supportive of the things he did.”
LaBelle, 48 and a real-estate broker in Mount Pleasant, played tour golf for 16 years, including four on the PGA Tour and eight on what is now the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour. He collected 96 PGA Tour starts including a pair of U.S. Opens and a British Open, and he played in 150 Korn Ferry tournaments. He won over $2.4 million combined and collected two Korn Ferry wins. At the University of New Mexico, he was a two-time All-American and won three individual titles. In 1998 he was a prestigious Palmer Cup selection for Team USA. While growing up he won multiple junior golf titles, was an all-state selection in high school and in the 1996 Michigan Amateur Championship was the runner-up to legend Pete Green.
“I’m humbled to be part of this incredible group of golf people in Michigan,” LaBelle said. “When you play you don’t think of things like this, at least I didn’t. I just kept trying to work on what I could do be better and to reach the next level.”
Murray, 85 a former GAM Governor and now Honorary Governor who continues to volunteer, won the inaugural GAM Senior Women’s Championship in 1997 and four times was in the top 10 on the GAM Honor Roll. She has won multiple Michigan Women’s Golf Association titles and the Mount Pleasant Country Club championship 22 times. In 2009 at age 71 after two hip replacements, she won the prestigious Spring Lake Invitational. She also coached the girls’ golf team at Mount Pleasant High for 10 years, winning a state title in 1978 and leading four state runner-up teams, and has also served the Mid-Michigan District Women’s Golf Association and the Saginaw Valley Women’s Golf Association.
“This means so much because I can share it with the team, my great friends I’ve met being involved in golf all these years,” Murray said. “I grew up on a farm, a long way from any neighbors. I was by myself a lot, wanted to get a tan so I used my dads clubs and started hitting golf balls around the fields.”
The Michigan Section PGA received the Special Award to honor its history and the work of over 800 members. PGA Professionals not only compete, but teach the game, direct golf facilities and are involved in various philanthropic efforts like Project Hope and Folds of Honor supporting military veterans, the Midnight Golf Program in Detroit and grow-the-game junior golf initiatives like PGA Junior League and Drive, Chip & Putt.
Bill Hobson, a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Committee, served as the master of ceremonies for the induction.
The MGHOF is a heralded collection of portraits, plaques and memorabilia that commemorate its 137 members, including Walter Hagen and Chuck Kocsis and Al Watrous, and more current notables Meg Mallon, Dan Pohl and Kelly Robbins. The collection is housed and displayed in the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center, which is named in honor of the MGHOF co-founder.
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 16 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.