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In This Issue VOLUME 35

SUMMER

2017

NUMBER

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Forest Dunes - The Loop, p. 10

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Online: New Videos

Slice of Life – Michigan Golfer at 35   By Terry Moore

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Grayling: The Heart of the North

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The Berry Patch – Summer

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Grip It Before You Rip It

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By Chris Lewis By Jack Berry

By Bill Shelton

Golf Grip of the Future, circa 1932

Michigan Golfer TV

Michigan Golfer News

Weekly email newsletter To join: email artmccaf@glsp.com

MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE • SUMMER 2017

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http://michigangolfer.com MICHIGAN GOLFER Publisher/Editor Art McCafferty artmccaf@glsp.com Editor Emeritus Terry Moore

Associate Publisher/Producer Jennie McCafferty Writers Jeff Bairley Paul Bairley Susan Bairley Phyllis Barone Jack Berry Mike Duff Greg Johnson Doug Joy Vartan Kupelian Brad King Tom Lang Chris Lewis Brian Marshall Scott Moore Bill Shelton Scott Sullivan

Photo/Video Paul Bairley Kevin Frisch Gary Morgan Dave Richards Carter Sherline Scott Sullivan Liliana Zylstra Director of Accounting Cheryl Clark

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Michigan Golfer is published online four times a year by Great Lakes Sports Publications, Inc., 4007 Carpenter Rd, #366, Ypsilanti, MI 48197. All contents of this publication are copyrighted, all rights reserved. Reproduction or use, without written permission, of editorial or graphic content in any manner is prohibited. All unsolicited manuscripts, photographs and illustrations will not be returned unless accompanied by a properly addressed envelope, bearing sufficient postage; publisher assumes no responsibility for return of unsolicited materials. The views and opinions of the writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect endorsement of views and/or philosophy of Michigan Golfer. Back Issues: May be ordered by sending $5.00 with your name, address and issue requested to Michigan Golfer, 4007 Carpenter Road, #366, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.

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New Videos

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Manistee National Golf & Resort - Preview 2017 with Doug Bell The Jawors of Michigan - Michigan Golfer Video - Jack Berry Interview John Jawor Cass Jawor Chet Jawor Frank Jawor Stan Jawor Michigan's Jawors - PGA Members - Frank, Stan, Cass, Chet & John - Jack Berry Interview Press Conference - Senior LPGA Championship - French Lick Resort FootGolf at French Lick with Dave Harner and Jennie McCafferty Steve Ferguson: The Visionary Of French Lick - Jennie McCafferty Interview Dave Harner - Indiana & French Lick Golf Icon Ribbon Cutting at the Meadowbrook CC - Photos and Bagpipes Eagle Crest Golf Club, 2017 - Changes on the Course and in the Clubhouse with Wes Blevins Volvik Qualifier at Eagle Crest Golf Club - 32 Players 2 Spots Meadowbrook CC - Grand Opening - Jack Berry Interviews Andy Staples Club Member Dave Vandenberg GM Joe Marini Jeff Zanetti Meadowbrook CC Grand Opening Ceremony, May 18, 2017 Hosted by Jeff Zanetti Golfweek's Bradley S. Klein - Advisor to Meadowbrook"s Renovation Plan Fun at the LPGA Volvik Championship - Carter Sherline Photos Michigan Golf Hall of Fame - Class of 2017 Bob Ackerman Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll Tom Gillis Brian Cairns Suzy Green-Roebuck Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, Class of 2017- Cairns, Stoll, Gillis, Ross, Ackerman, Green-Roebuck Meadowbrook CC - Thoughts From Assistant Superintendent - Brian Hilfinger Matt Thompson Wins 100th Michigan Open Michigan Golf Hall of Fame - 1982 - 2017 - The Musical by Jamie Fallon - GLSP Meadowbrook CC Presents100 Michigan Opens - Four Part Series Corey Crowell - New GM at Indian River GC Black Lake Conference Center - What's New? with Nick Aune and Jennie McCafferty Sakonnet Golf Club - One of America's Oldest - A Donald Ross Design in R.I. Sycamore Hills GC - A Jerry Matthews Design North Course West Course South Course

SUMMER 2017 • MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE


Now on iPad

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Photo courtesy of Terry Moore

Slice of Life – Michigan Golfer at 35

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xcuse this nostalgic trip down memory lane but 35 years is a milestone to be celebrated. Of course, I’m talking Terry Moore about Michigan Golfer which in 1982 made its humble debut in this state. I was the editor-in-chief and Art McCafferty was its publisher (and still is, by the way.) How it began and some of its highlights and lowlights are worth a retelling. At the time, Art McCafferty and a few other partners were experiencing a successful four-year run with Michigan Runner magazine, the state’s first magazine devoted to road racing. In the late ‘70s and ‘80s, nearly every community and many charities were hosting 10K races and the like. It was a hot recreational endeavor attracting thousands of adherents. McCafferty, whom I knew and worked with at Grand Rapids Public Schools, was savvy enough to see a strong emerging market and decided to enter the publishing world to be part of it. Runners were hungry to learn about new road races while race directors were looking for a target readership to market their 10Ks. Michigan Runner was the timely answer. 6

By Terry Moore

McCafferty invited me to partner to help with the business. I agreed with one caveat: I wanted to start a golf magazine. Growing up in a family of golf enthusiasts and avid readers, our household subscribed to every major

Golfweek) and thought to myself, “Michigan should have its own publication, too.” Luckily, McCafferty and company agreed and we were on our way—somewhere. In the spring of 1982, Art and I strategized that a fitting debut for a new golf magazine should coincide with the Buick Open, Michigan’s PGA Tour stop. So we commenced with a plan to make a splash with a special edition of Michigan Golfer, a sampler of things to come for the 1983 golf season. Here’s what we put together for that first issue:

• An interview with Dan Pohl. As Mt. Pleasant’s favorite golfing Michigan Golfer, Volume 1, No. 1 son with two golf publication. I remember readMichigan Amateur titles and a ing the weekly GolfWorld magazine promising start on the PGA Tour, in its smaller version. Later I including a sensational yet heartdevoured such regional publications breaking playoff loss to Craig as the Carolinas Golfer and Florida Stadler in the ’82 Masters, Pohl was Golfweek (which later became a natural and strong editorial lead.

SUMMER 2017 • MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE


His interview was insightful, candid and he enjoyed sharing his opinions. • Cover image. Fortunately, during our interview when asked about a suitable photo, Pohl said he knew of great action shot of him hitting a drive. He mentioned the photographer’s name and I quickly got a hold of him and made arrangements to use his photo. It was a dynamite image of Pohl, in pink pants, unleashing a powerful drive through the impact zone. It was emblematic of the “reverse C” swing at the time but it also illustrated why Pohl was the longest hitter on the PGA Tour. • For tournament coverage, we had reports on both the Michigan Amateur and Michigan Open, the state’s premier events for amateurs and professionals. They were won by David Graulau and Buddy Whitten respectively. • For a profile, Fred Stabley Jr.— the sports information director at C.M.U.—contributed an excellent article on Lynn Janson, his long time friend and fellow Spartan graduate. A dominant player in the Michigan PGA Section, Janson had recently returned from competing in the U.S Open at Pebble Beach, his sixth appearance in our National Championship. Interestingly, Stabley revealed that Janson didn’t take up golf until after his freshman year in high school, having been an avid baseball player. But three short years later, he was offered a golf scholarship to M.S.U. • For instruction, my brother Tim did a “Pro Lesson” with Buddy Whitten, head pro at Blythefield CC where my brother was a member. Like Janson, Whitten was a 8

standout player, having won the 1979 PGA National Club Pro Championship and the aforementioned Michigan Open. Slight of build and stature, Whitten was a long hitter who maximized leverage and weight shift in his elegant swing. His key thought was “to use the inside of the right leg (for right handers) as a leverage release of the lower body.” And we had two useful black and white photos to demonstrate his points. • In another column, written by an author mysteriously listed as H.D, golf instruction books were given a skeptical eye. H.D. mentioned books by Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Bobby Locke, Alex Morrison and Byron Nelson—all of which were in his personal library. He wrote: “I have over 100 books and I’ll have probably 100 more in the coming years. I can’t stop myself from buying them.” H.D. was the nom de plume of Henry Donald Moore, my father and hopelessly addicted player. • In a bit of pure whimsy, I managed to convince the business office of Johnny Hart, the famed cartoonist of B.C. and the Wizard of Id, to give me permission to run three of his strips with golf themes. In a twopanel strip, one caveman says to the other: “Behold, an 18-hole golf course built entirely on sanitary landfill!” Which results in this retort: “That should make the locker room patter a bit more plausible.” • McCafferty provided a few nuggets from his self-published humor book titled The Front Nine/The Back Nine. In it, he paired common golf words and phrases with famous quotations such as: The Perfect Swing—“It is a rid-

dle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” (Winston Churchill, talking about Russia in 1939.) • Tom Cleary contributed two well-crafted pieces, one on Phil Rodgers with whom he was paired at the previous summer’s Jaycees Charity Golf Classic—the forerunner of a Senior PGA Tour stop in Grand Rapids—and another on a possible “split tour” for the PGA Tour, the incipient discussion about the Hogan Tour which is now the Webdotcom Tour. • And given the stature of the Buick Open, it was fitting for Jerry Rideout, the retired Buick executive and a pioneer tournament director for Buick Open, to share his rich memories of the early years of the tournament which started in 1958, the 50th anniversary of General Motors. In fact, Rideout said it was that anniversary which provided the impetus for Waldo McNaught, then head of PR for Buick, to sell the idea of a golf tournament to GM. “It was labeled a Golden Anniversary sport event,” wrote Rideout. He also admitted that in 1958 “no one knew anything about running a golf tournament.” Looking back fondly and candidly at the 35th anniversary of Michigan Golfer, let me say no one knew anything about running a golf magazine either.

A member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, Moore is a resident of Grand Rapids, MI and may be reached at terry50moore@gmail.com

SUMMER 2017 • MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE

- MG -


Photo courtesy of Forest Dunes Golf Club


Grayling: The Heart of the North By Chris Lewis

Forest Dunes Golf Club: The Loop


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nown by some as “The Heart of the North”, Grayling is located at the center of most of northern Michigan’s top tourist destinations—45 minutes from Traverse City, 20 minutes from Gaylord, and an hour from Mackinac Island and Petoskey. An outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, the town is particularly renowned for its seemingly endless options to fly fish, canoe and kayak on the AuSable and Manistee Rivers.

Forest Dunes Golf Club

But there is much more to Grayling than what meets the eye. It is also a prime location for golf. Not only is it near some of the nation’s most popular courses (in Gaylord, Traverse City and Harbor Springs), but it also offers three gorgeous courses of its own. So, the next time you visit “The Heart of the North”, be sure you take some time away from the rivers to golf at each of these pristine courses.

Known as The Loop, the course was designed by Tom Doak, who focused on offering golfers a British Open type of layout: hard, fast fescue fairways, a flat landscape and more of a brown (rather than lush green) appearance. The course has proven to be so popular that it was even named Best New Public Course of 2016 by Golf Digest and Best New U.S. Course You Can Play 2016 by Golf Magazine.

Located in Roscommon, about 10 minutes from downtown Grayling, Forest Dunes Golf Club is one of Michigan’s premier golfing destinations—and for good reason. Not only is it home to Tom Weiskopf’s popular 18-hole, 7,116-yard layout (featuring a parkland-style front nine with jack pines, dunes and water, and a back nine reminiscent of his classic Pine Valley), but it also features the United States’ first-ever reversible golf course.

“Even though it uses the same 18 greens and fairways, it plays as two completely different courses,” says Don Helinski, director of operations, Forest Dunes. “It is a totally different style of play than typical American golf.” He adds, “Its setup leads to creative shot making around the green complexes. And, since it is a walking only experience, it helps slow your game down a little and see the course the way that Tom Doak wants you to see it.” Prior to playing either course, guests are also welcomed to use the club’s premier practice facility, featuring a bunker, a double-ended driving range with fairways and practice greens, a putting green and a short game area. They may also participate in group or private lessons with one of the club’s three PGA professionals.

Photo court4esy of Forest Dunes GC

After finishing their rounds,

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Forest Dunes Golf Club, Forest Dunes Golf Course

SUMMER 2017 • MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE


Photo courtesy of Forest Dunes GC

Sangamore’s Restaurant, Forest Dunes Golf Club guests often choose to eat at Sangamore’s Restaurant, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner items in a beautiful Adirondack style atmosphere, featuring a fieldstone fireplace, floor to ceiling windows and vaulted ceilings. If they are staying in the area overnight to fish or golf, some guests also stay at the club’s 11,000-square foot Lake AuSable Lodge, which has 14 lodge rooms and suites, private patios or balconies, flat screen televisions and wireless Internet. Cottages and villas are also available to guests; in fact, to book advanced tee times on The Loop, guests must stay overnight. “In preparation for the future, we will be opening a new outdoor dining experience off our patio this summer,” Helinski states. “We are 14

also working on re-opening a putting course that we used to have when the property first opened. It is definitely an exciting time for staff and guests alike.”

Fox Run Country Club Nestled in the hardwoods of Grayling, less than five minutes from I-75, Fox Run Country Club is well-known for its convenience, natural beauty and, perhaps above all else, variety. After all, the par-72, 6,371-yard course, which offers four sets of tees, requires most golfers to use every club in their bags, as they will need to hit various types of drives to avoid marshes, heathers and tree-lined fairways, as well as a wide array of approach shots into undulating greens.

Rated four stars by Golf Digest, the Jeff Gorney (architect of courses like The Dream Golf Course and Maple Hill Golf Club) design is playable for golfers of all abilities. Guests do not necessarily need to be long drivers, but a solid short game is certainly useful. Above all else though, the course was designed to ensure everyone has a good time. “Last year we introduced Gold tees. Shorter than the Red tees, the Golds are perfect for beginners, juniors and senior players,” says Bob Koutnik, co-owner, Fox Run Country Club. “Instituted as part of the Play It Forward program, they have become quite popular as they allow shorter hitters to hit approach shots into greens with the clubs that the greens were actually designed for.”

SUMMER 2017 • MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE


Although each hole offers something for everyone, number four is considered the course’s signature. A 377-yard par-four, the hole requires golfers to hit downhill drives from the tee to a landing area, followed by approach shots uphill (and across a marsh) into an undulating green guarded by two bunkers on the right, along with a marsh in the back. In addition, the course’s four par-three holes have become very

popular over the years as well. “Number 15 is my favorite hole on the course, as tee shots must carry over a valley and then land on a green that sits on a hillside,” Koutnik explains. “The hole was designed to fit the terrain as it was, so it is very natural.” With golfers of all ages and experiences in mind, Fox Run Country

Club also offers Mulligan Monday specials every Monday from June 1st to September 10th (guests only pay $30 for 18 holes with a cart), as well as specials for juniors every Sunday after 1 p.m.—up to two children can play for free as long as they are with an adult who paid. After playing nine or 18 holes and enjoying the course’s natural scenery, guests are bound to have an

MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE • SUMMER 2017

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Photo courtesy of Fox Run CC

Fox Run Country Club appetite. Thankfully, the course’s Fox Den Restaurant and Lounge offers burgers, sandwiches and St. Louis style BBQ ribs, along with Bloody Mary cocktails, craft beer and margaritas. “On Fridays, we offer a Nine and Dine with nine holes of golf, a cart and a fish dinner for $25,” Koutnik says. “Our pork ribs, firecracker shrimp and Fox Burger are also really popular. Not to mention, we also offer a Happy Hour from Monday through Thursday.” He continues, “Furthermore, we provide two levels of membership— the Elite, which includes special reciprocal rates with 15 other Northern Michigan clubs, and the Century Club, which includes 16

unlimited greens fees Monday through Thursday mornings for only $175.”

Grayling Country Club In 1924, when Grayling Country Club was first opened, 10 investors owned the property, as they raised $10,000 in all. This ownership continued for more than 30 years, when, in the late 1950s, course president Dr. Ralph Hoffman decided to offer the club to other Grayling citizens for a purchase price of $7,500 plus expenses. If 75 members could each provide $100, the course would continue to operate as usual. However, when only 34 members offered to invest, Dr. Hoffman, along with three other investors, decided to

purchase the club outright and then sell his 75 shares over time. Over the next three years, 75 shareholders eventually were able to invest $100 per person and create a board of directors, by-laws and course rules. Membership began to increase over the next three decades as well—to the point in which the course expanded to 18 holes in the late 1980s. In fact, the club’s shareholder agreement has proven to be so successful that it continues to this day, as each shareholder has a vested interest in the club. As an entirely stockholder owned golf course, Grayling Country Club now has over 200 members, along with 75 stockholders who oversee the 5,817-yard, par-70 course.

SUMMER 2017 • MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE


In addition to the views and excitement of the course, guests also usually enjoy the club’s 19th hole— River’s Edge Bar and Restaurant, which has a deck overlooking the 18th green and AuSable River, as well as meals like bourbon glazed salmon, baby back ribs and cherry BBQ chicken.

Grayling Country Club ing with music and specialty food and drink items every Friday night,” Fortino states. “Simply put, Grayling Country Club is a fun

place to relax and enjoy golf, wildlife, food, drinks and camaraderie.” - MG -

Photo courtsy of Grayling CC

“The club also offers upscale din-

Photo courtesy of Grayling CC

“Offering four sets of tees, the course can play very difficult, even if it is shorter than other local courses, as it has small greens and long rough,” says Michael Fortino, general manager, Grayling Country Club. “Holes 16 and 17 are especially difficult—and breathtaking—as they are located along the banks of the AuSable River.”

Grayling Country Club

MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE • SUMMER 2017

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The Berry Patch – Summer By Jack Berry

Photo by Art McCafferty

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ummertime and the livin’ is easy. DuBose Hayward wrote the words and George Gershwin wrote the music. It just flows and Jack Berry we hope summer for the greatest of the Great Lakes states flows as smoothly.

Wisconsin gets its first United States Open and we went through a week of praise for Erin Hills, a course where the average player would need at least a dozen balls, a scythe and steel spikes to climb and not slide down the steep hills and ropes to get down into and up out of strangely shaped sand traps. The TV guys and magazines fell

all over themselves, raving that cheesy has more highly rated courses than Pure Michigan. It’s 9-4 Wisconsin in the current Golf Digest 100 Greatest Public courses. The difference is that Wisconsin has a bunch of newbies, triggered by toilet king Herb Kohler with his Blackwolf Run Resort with two courses, then Whistling Straits with two more, three PGA Championships and the 2020 Ryder Cup on tap. What’s more, Chicagoan Mike Keiser, who turned an Oregon oceanside into Bandon Dunes, the

Photo courtesy of Lochenheath

But wait! That cheesy state on the other side of OUR Lake Michigan is grabbing our rep as the

Great Lakes Golf State. The Greater Milwaukee Open died in 2009. Tiger Woods made his pro debut there in 1996 and never went back. Man, how times have changed.

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Lochenheath

SUMMER 2017 • MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE


Photo courtesy of A-Ga-Ming

Sundance at A-Ga-Ming


Photo courtesy of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa No. 1 Bucket List destination for all golf’s Must Play Top 100 addicts, is replicating Bandon in Wisconsin, calling it Sand Valley with the intention of turning it into another Basket List four course destination. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw did the first course and it’s ready to play. David McLay Kidd, who did the first Bandon Dunes course, is doing the second at Sand Valley. Erin Hills initially was meant to 20

be a $50 course and then the owner went bankrupt adding more bells and whistles and finally a Milwaukee big money man rescued it and now all the media folks who praised it are saying it deserves another Open, preferably without the rain that turned the nearly 8,000 yard monster into a playpen for today’s players who turned 600 yard par 5s into a couple of 3-woods. OK, cheesy is in the big time but I have a few questions. Looking at

the new Badger courses, do you think you’d have fun playing them? How many fairways do you think you could hit? You like greens where three putts would be a birdie? Four putts a par? Do you have sand wedges made by Otis Elevator? Next, money. The United States Golf Association, the blue coat organization that’s trying to get folks to play nine holes and have fun and get kids into the game, prides itself on occasionally playing the most important championship in

SUMMER 2017 • MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE


golf on Public Access courses. There are six: Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines in California, Pinehurst in North Carolina, Bethpage Black in New York, Chambers Bay near Seattle and Erin Hills near Milwaukee.

prices. Arcadia Bluffs, with the great views of Lake Michigan and camera-must sunsets, is $190 to Oct. 1, $110 twilight. Seniors on Tuesdays, women on Wednesdays is $100. Arcadia Bluffs is ranked

13th on Golf Digest’s current 100 Greatest Public Courses You Can Play. Forest Dunes, near Roscommon, is the other top-ranked (No. 25)

Other Public Access: Pebble Beach, ranked No.1 by Golf Digest, is $525 for resort guests. Pinehurst No. 2 has many packages, around $400 at lower end. Torrey Pines, county-owned, is $246 MonThu on the South course for non-residents. Chambers Bay, near Seattle and which no one liked two years ago, is $275 for non-residents.

Photo courtesy of Lakewood Shores Resort

Check the prices across the lake. Erin Hills website says $280 for a round this year and $295 next year. Whistling Straits’ website says “starting at $410” is the fee for the championship Straits course. No carts and required caddie is $65. That’s before the tip. Blackwolf Run’s River course, host to two USGA Women’s Opens, is $305.

Arcadia Bluffs

Photo courtesy of Lakewood Shores Resort

David Fay, past executive director of the USGA, pushed for “a real public” and got the brass hats to go along. The result is the Black course at Bethpage State Park, a true U.S. Open test course that resident trunk-slammers can play for $65. It’s $130 weekdays and $150 weekends for nonresidents, the best price of the six access courses that stage the Open. Now check Michigan

Cedar River Golf Course at Shanty Creek

MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE • SUMMER 2017

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plus the Ryder Cup. Our terrific courses aren’t on national television and right now, nothing is in sight.

The big difference between them and us is we don’t have millionaires building courses and getting USGA men’s and women’s national championships and PGA championships

Oakland Hills is Michigan’s big guy and it has bent over backward to get another U.S. Open. It has staged two U.S. Amateurs since hosting its last Open in 1996. In the

past it followed if you hosted the Amateur you got the big one. But the Open is scheduled to 2026 and there’s nothing for Oakland Hills. Incredibly the USGA, during last year’s Open at Oakmont, announced during the tournament, that Oakmont will get the 2025 Open and Shinnecock Hills, which is getting it next year also will get it in 2026.

Photo by Essler / Black Lake Conference Center

Michigan course and Mon-Wed rates are $119 and Thu-Sun $149 according to the website.

The Lodge at Black Lake Conference Center

There was a feeling that because Oakland Hills hosted the Ryder Cup in 2006 and the PGA in 2008, it was being punished by the USGA, that it “wasn’t a USGA club.” And when the very successful Amateur was played there last summer – Fox analysts Paul Azinger, Curtis Strange and Brad Faxon constantly raved about the course – Oakland Hills even downplayed a room it has set aside recognizing the PGAs and Ryder Cup with pictures and memorabilia it has staged.

Photo courtesy of Oakland Hills

So, Michigan is in a dark room as far as the national scene is concerned. But we have a lot more good, affordable places to play than anywhere in the Midwest, and Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois license plates are always welcome at Michigan courses. It’s summertime. - MG -

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Oakland Hills

SUMMER 2017 • MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE


Grip It Before You Rip It By Bill Shelton

C

ontrolling 80 percent of the market might give many CEOs a reason to relax and enjoy the organization’s success. For Bill Shelton James Ledford, President of Golf Pride, it suggests that his company’s potential is even greater. “We are constantly doing research in both the lab and on the golf course to improve and expand our products. For example, why do only 1/3 of ‘avid’ golfers regrip their clubs on a regular basis?”

Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio. Interestingly, the name “Golf Pride” was inspired by a popular motor oil of the day, “Gulf Pride.” The new rubber grips offered better feel and flexibility as well as being lighter, more shock absorbent, and an improved gripping surface. Perhaps an even greater improvement in golf grips came in 1953 when Golf Pride introduced the first “slip-on” grip. Replacing the tedious winding of the leather grip, the slip-on offered a faster, more economical, and convenient alternative. Many club manufacturers switched to the new grips

James Ledford

Consequently, Golf Pride is the #1 grip in golf and used by 80 percent of the players in virtually every professional and amateur level of golf competition. Ledford notes that even though no professional player is paid to use Golf Pride grips, in 2016 world wide tour wins, Golf Pride grips were on the clubs of the 109 winners while all other competitor grips accounted for 17 victories. Twenty-two of the top 30 professionals used Golf Pride grips winning $62.8 million. In 1949 Thomas Fawick, a Cleveland, Ohio industrialist and inventor, wondered if rubber might be a better alternative to leather for golf grips. The inventor of the pneumatic clutch and brake was also a golf enthusiast and armed with a prototype entered a manufacturing agreement with the Westgate MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE • SUMMER 2017

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by the mid-50s. In 1958 Tommy Bolt won the U.S. Open using the new slip-on grip creating a tremendous increase in awareness and sales. According to Ledford, this early focus on grip development as both an art and science has been the on-going key to the company’s success. “It could be compared to footwear. There is the element of utility and performance, but there must also be a variety of options.” Golf Pride, the only consumer brand division of the Eaton Corporation, is self-contained and places heavy emphasis on its research and development unit. His Southern Pines NC office is filled with the R&D’s last designs in shape, composition, and color. “Today’s golf clubs are designed to hit the ball longer, higher, straighter, and easier. We are a part of this dynamic industry and want to keep pace.” Being on the cutting edge is not a new experience for Leford. Holding a M.A. degree in International Economics and European Studies from The John Hopkins University and a B. A. in Economics from the University of Puget Sound, he has served as Golf Pride CEO since 2012. Previously he was Vice President for Integrated Golf Services and earlier VP for Global Business Development for Callaway Golf. In addition to his responsibilities as vice president, he led in the development of an highly innovative digital direct-to-consumer venture. Ledford’s international experience is not limited to the golf industry. From 2002 until 2008, he was the Director of Consumer Products—International Ready-toDrink Coffee for Starbucks, focusing on the Asian market. A seeming24

Golf Grip of the Future, circa 1932 Victor East, noted golf authority and leader in the golf equipment industry in the mid-1900's, identified his 18 "Musts" of the "golf grip of the future" circa 1932. The list was published in the May, 1953, issue of the Golf Pride Journal announcing the introduction of the slip-on golf grip. 1. MUST be "grippable." (All hands and all climates.) 2. MUST not hurt or blister hands. 3 . MUST absorb perspiration. 4. MUST disperse perspiration. 5. MUST absorb shock. 6. MUST have traction. 7. MUST not slip. 8. MUST not allow twisting. 9. MUST reduce grip-joint tension. 10. MUST be light weight. 11. MUST lower over-all club weight. 12. MUST lower center of gravity. 13. MUST raise swing weight. 14. MUST be easy to apply and service. 15. MUST be neat in appearance. 16. MUST provide variety--colors, shapes,and sizes. 17. MUST be enduring. 18. MUST have low cost. ly remote connection to his role at Golf Pride, Ledford explains, “The focus at Starbucks and the focus at Golf Pride is attracting and serving the consumer. It is just a difference in the product.” The greatest concern Ledford, a single digit handicapper, sees in his industry is the same that plagues golf as a whole. “Counterfeit grips have become an increasingly major concern similar to copied clubs and other golf accessories. Our concern is both for the consumer as well as Golf Pride. The consumer is being served with an

inferior product and our company may be erroneously faulted. We are constantly vigilant in seeking to identify and expose the culprits.” From putters to drivers, the name “Golf Pride” appears more times than any other name in golf. With the introduction of the Tour SNSR putter grip and most recently the MCC Align grip for irons and woods, James Leford intends for it to stay that way!

SUMMER 2017 • MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE

- MG -


Photo by Greg Johnson

Michigan Golfer TV

Suzy GreenRoebuck Bob Ackerman

Brian Cairns

Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll

Tom Gillis

Meadowbrook CC Presents: The Michigan Open Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Videos Part I - 1916-1942 Bob Ackerman Tom Gillis Featured Foursome - Walter Hagen, Al Watrous, https://youtube.com/watch?v=UT8M-BROOnA Marvin Stahl and Leo Diegel https://youtube.com/watch?v=2ed4REhEr1M Tom Gillis https://youtube.com/watch?v=7sYMNsSZU9o Meadowbrook CC Presents: The Michigan Open Part II - 1943 -1966 Suzy Green -Roebuck Featured Foursome - Horton Smith, Walter https:/youtube.com/watch?v=Hp6yfi_Lfs Burkemo, Dave Hill and John Barnum https://youtube.com/watch?v=Uon9dQ7yHp4 Brian Cairns https://youtube.com/watch?v=DOFPjnv2QN0 Brian Hilfinger - Assistant Superintendent of Meadowbrook CC Alexander Ross https://youtube.com/watch?v=OlSAA7dBraI https://youtube.com/watch?v=afwmbXNTEQo Matt Thompson Wins the 100th Michigan Open https://youtube.com/watch?v=VMsW5tgnwoM

Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll https://youtube.com/watch?v=UBhOpIhs39s

MICHIGAN GOLFER MAGAZINE • SUMMER 2017

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