Top Ten Michigan golf stories of 2012

Nobody asked me, but here’s my Top 10 Michigan golf stories for 2012.

Randy Lewis

  1. Randy Lewis at the Masters—The Cinderella story of the reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Randy Lewis, Alma, teeing up at the Masters is my top story of the year. A member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, the 54-year-old Lewis fulfilled not only his dream golf experience but also ours as he competed in golf’s most storied event.
  2. Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores—I was admittedly skeptical how the penal nature of the course design and layout might adversely influence both player and spectator reaction. But the event turned out to be huge success, thanks to yeoman efforts of the local Benton Harbor/St. Joseph community and the sponsoring Whirlpool Corp.’s KitchenAid Division. And the stellar play of Roger Chapman certainly allayed fears of the course’s playability.
  3. U.S Senior Open at Indianwood—The Old Course at Indianwood looked and played like an inland links course and provided a worthy test. And you gotta love how winner Roger Chapman paid a tribute to “Pure Michigan” in his televised acceptance speech.
  4. Justin Hicks, Brian Stuard and Doug LaBelle II all earned PGA Tour cards for 2013—The Michigan natives all made it to the ‘Big Show’ by finishing in the Top 25 money-winners for 2012 on the Tour. LaBelle II was the only one who won last year, taking home the trophy and $99,000 at the Utah Championship.
  5. Shasta Averyhardt earned conditional status on LPGA Tour. The Flint native now has her foot in the door via her solid finish at the LPGA Q-School. I’ve watched Averyhardt compete in several Michigan events in the past and have always been impressed with her game and demeanor.
  6. Tom Gillis finished T-2 at Honda Classic—The former Michigan Open champion and onetime caddie at Indianwood had his best finish on the PGA Tour by finishing T-2 last March and winning $501,000. Gillis finished the year 72nd on the money list, winning $1.2 million dollars.
  7. Barrett Kelpin’s eight shot victory at the Michigan Open—Kalamazoo native and recent University of Iowa grad Kelpin blew away a strong field at The Orchards, tying the all-time tournament scoring record, held by Chick Harbert, by going 23-under-par. It was his first professional event.
  8. Drew Preston beat Tom Werkmeister in an all-GR Michigan Am final—OK, call me a hometowner but I relished this Grand Rapids duo competing for the state’s most prestigious title at Oakland Hills North. I also liked how self-taught Preston “owned” his game and his swing while carrying his bag throughout a very hot stretch of weather.
  9. Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll captured GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur—The Michigan State Women’s golf coach practices what she preaches by winning her seventh Mid-Am title in the last eight years.
  10. The Weather—Favorable golf weather for the large part of 2012 really gave the industry a terrific boost this past season. Remember those 80 degree days in March and how dry it was for most of the summer and fall? Heck, courses were even packed the first Sunday in December. All added nicely to the bottom line.

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