SAGINAW – The top women golfers in the state are once again being showcased on one of the state’s oldest classic golf courses at historic Saginaw Country Club.
The 28th GAM Women’s Championship presented by Global Golf Post will take to the 121-year-old club’s course on Monday and Tuesday for 36-holes of stroke play competition to determine a champion. Saginaw Country Club hosted many of the same golfers in the 101st Michigan Women’s Amateur in 2016.
Defending champion Allyson Geer-Park of Brighton and Michigan State University, 2017 champion Kerri Parks of Flushing and Marshall University and 2016 champion Anna Kramer of Spring Lake and the University of Indianapolis are in the talented field.
The classic lines of the course date to the first nine holes being developed in 1898 by Charles H. Davis, a devotee of the game who purchased a farm and went to work. By 1902 the club had 100 members. The second nine, which was called the New Course formally opened in 1912 and was designed by members. The course was remodeled in the 1960s, and Michigan golf course architect Jerry Matthews remodeled parts of the course in 1983. The current clubhouse dates back to 1969.
The club has a long relationship with Golf Association of Michigan events, having hosted the second Michigan Amateur Championship for men in 1907 and hosting seven more times through 1936. In recent years it has stepped up to host several GAM championships, including last summer’s GAM Super Senior Championship and the 2016 Women’s Amateur.
The course can be played at yardages between 6,143 and 4,905 with five tee positions, and Ken Hartmann, the senior director of rules and competition for the GAM, said it will favor the consistent golfer who keeps the golf ball out of the prevalent tree lines and demonstrates a strong short game around greens that are small by modern standards.
“It’s a great old-style country club because the course is a what you see is what you get course,” Hartmann said. “It’s not tricked up. There are some holes, especially on the front nine, with great character. The scoring side is probably the back nine, and on the front, you hang in there, keep your ball out of the trees and make pars.”
Chris Alexander is the club manager, Chad Boyce the head golf professional and Rob Steger the superintendent. Learn more at saginawcountryclub.com.
Last year at Muskegon Country Club, Geer-Park shot a closing 1-over 73 in swirling winds of Lake Michigan to win by two shots over Parks and Elayna Bowser of Dearborn and the University of Loyola Chicago. Later in the summer it was Parks who outlasted Bowser in the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship final match. Geer-Park, who will be a senior at MSU in the fall, is a two-time Women’s Amateur champion as well.
This year’s talented field also includes Katie Chipman of Canton and Grand Valley State University, who was runner-up in the 2016 Women’s Amateur at Saginaw Country Club to Aya Johnson of Muskegon and was the runner-up in the GAM Championship to Parks in 2017 and runner-up to Kramer in the 2016 GAM Championship.
Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, Geer-Park’s coach at Michigan State, is also in the field. The 47-year-old winningest golfer in GAM history won the GAM Championship in 1998. Other notables in the field are recent Michigan Junior Girl’s State Amateur Champion Lilia Henkel of Grand Rapids and Shelly Weiss of Southfield, last summer’s GAM Senior Women’s Champion.
ABOUT THE GAM: Founded in 1919, the Golf Association of Michigan is the governing body for amateur golf in the state. As a not-for-profit organization, the GAM’s purpose is to promote, preserve and serve the game of golf. The GAM, served by over 250 dedicated volunteers, provides membership to almost 60,000 golfers and more than 450 Michigan golf courses, conducts over 30 amateur championships, oversees 18 USGA qualifying events, administers the GAM/USGA Handicap System and measures and rates almost 70 courses a year for the USGA. Learn more at www.gam.org.