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2021 AWARD WINNERS: Michigan Golf Course Association Announces Honorees

Posted on November 10th, 2021

Brenda Velandra, owner and general manager at Raisin Valley Golf Club in Tecumseh, Joseph M. Vargas Jr. of Michigan State University’s science and turfgrass faculty, and the Midnight Golf Program of Detroit were announced today as the 2021 Award Winners by the Michigan Golf Course Association (MGCA).

  They will be introduced and celebrated at the MGCA Awards Banquet on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 30, during the 2021 Michigan Golf Business Conference and Vendor Fair at the Somerset Inn in Troy.

   “We are excited to honor award winners that have contributed so much to Michigan golf in such a variety of ways,” Jada Paisley, executive director of the MGCA said. “It will be a special night and a perfect way to thank Brenda, Dr. Vargas and the Midnight Golf Program for all they have done. They are truly deserving.”

  Velandra will be the recipient of the Lyle Leeke Distinguished Service Award. It is presented to an individual who has displayed distinguished service to the MGCA and the golf industry in the state of Michigan. Velandra is the daughter of Arlan and Linda Kapnick, who purchased the then 10-year-old course in 1977. The successful public course remains a family-owned operation through Velandra, and her brothers Keith and Dave Kapnick. Valendra has served as an MGCA Educational Support Foundation Trustee for several years, and in recent years has served as chairperson. She also volunteers and participates in all MGCA events.

  Vargas will be honored with the Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award. It is awarded to an individual or organization that over the span of a lifetime has provided steadfast leadership, outstanding service, and continuous commitment to the Michigan golf industry. Vargas has served as a professor of Plant Pathology (PhD) in the Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Department at Michigan State for over five decades, produced research with international implications for turfgrass and authored the most widely used turfgrass disease book (Management of Turfgrass Diseases).

  The Midnight Golf Program will receive the Award of Merit. This award is reserved for significant, measurable, and meaningful work in and for the golf industry. The Midnight Golf Program’s mission is equipping determined young adults through life skills training, proactive coaching, long-term mentoring, and the discipline of golf so they can succeed in college, in their careers and beyond. It was founded in 2001 by Renee’ Fluker, a social worker and single parent who noticed the impact golf had on her son’s life. Over 3,700 students have been directly helped in the last 20 years and program participants have been admitted to more than 100 colleges and universities across the country.

  As announced recently, the awards ceremonies will also include the presentation of the 2021 Golf Course of the Year to Island Resort & Casino’s original course, Sweetgrass. One of two courses at the Upper Peninsula resort 13 miles west of Escanaba in Harris, Sweetgrass opened in 2008 to rave reviews and is the annual host course for the LPGA Symetra Tour’s Island Resort Championship. The MGCA Course of the Year Award honors a member course that meets four criteria: unique characteristics of the course; exceptional quality of ownership and management; outstanding contribution to its community; and significant contribution to the game.

  To join the celebration, contact the MGCA at 800-860-8575 to register or visit michigangca.org. For additional information contact Jada Paisley, executive director, (517) 482-4312, jpaisley@michigangca.org.

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