BIG RAPIDS – An LPGA Tour winner from the Upper Peninsula, history-making amateur, pioneer turfgrass educator and multi-media journalist have been elected to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.
Becky Iverson, Tom Werkmeister, Paul Rieke and Vartan Kupelian will be inducted June 8 in ceremonies at Ferris State University in Big Rapids.
Rieke, a Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University since 1999 and affiliated with the university since 1960, is generally regarded throughout the nation and world as the authority on turfgrass soils and nutrition and credited by his peers in the international development and advancement of turfgrass science.
He has co-authored five books in the area of soils and plant nutrition, published 32 journal articles and over 400 non-technical papers, taught over 5,000 students, worked with countless others on extension and research projects, served six years as leader of the MSU Turfgrass Team, served the International Turfgrass Society, the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation, the USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Committees, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the PGA Tour Agronomy Advisory Committee and the Golf Association of Michigan Green Committee.
He helped develop the Hancock Turfgrass Research Center at MSU, was involved in the indoor turfgrass project at the Silverdome for the 1994 World Cup and has played a role in securing some $1.2 million in external grants and donations to Michigan State.
Rieke, 79, is a resident of Okemos and among his many awards are distinguished service awards from the Golf Association of Michigan and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
Iverson, born in Escanaba and raised in Gladstone, played for 14 years on the LPGA Tour, was named to the U.S. Solheim Cup Team in 2000, won the 1987 Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship and played collegiate golf at Michigan State University where she was an Academic All-American in 1987-88.
Her playing career highlights include winning the 1995 Friendly’s Classic Title on the LPGA Tour, where she recorded a career-best 63 during the second round with nine birdies, and a tie for second in the 2000 Women’s British Open. She had LPGA Tour career earnings of more than $1.5 million, and also won six times while playing on three mini-tours, including the Central Florida Challenge Tour where she was Player of the Year in 1993.
Iverson, 46, started golf at eight years of age and credits her parents, George Clifton and Vickie Layton, as the individuals who have most influenced her career. She is the mother of one daughter, Emma, who was born in 2003.
Currently, she is the director of golf at The Bridges Golf Course in Madison, Wis., and recognized for leading a junior program emphasizing life lessons as well as golf skills. In 2013, she became eligible for and started playing on The LPGA Legends Tour.
Werkmeister, a Kentwood resident who was born in Warren, made Michigan golf history last summer when he became the first amateur in 38 years to win the Michigan Open Championship. His 2009 Michigan Amateur title along with the Open title placed him with Chuck Kocsis, Randy Erskine and Lynn Janson in an elite club of Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members who have won the two state titles.
Werkmeister also won the 2013 Michigan Mid-Amateur for the fifth time in the last six years, an unprecedented feat in the 31 years of the championship. In addition, he made history in the Grand Rapids area by being the first to ever win the four local “Grand Slam” events, and was qualifying medalist in the Michigan Amateur before falling to eventual champion Andrew Chapman in Match Play.
His 2013 season simply added to an amateur career that includes being three-time Golf Association of Michigan Player of the Year, reaching the Michigan Amateur’s prestigious Sweet 16 six times, qualifying for the U.S. Amateur twice and qualifying for the U.S. Mid-Amateur four times.
Werkmeister, 45, started playing golf at age seven, was a two-time high school All-State player, a Junior College All-American and has been a force on the amateur scene in Michigan for almost 20 years. He currently runs his own internet sales business and his wife Leslie is known across the state as a constant gallery member and sometimes caddie.
Kupelian was the third Detroit golf writer to be elected President of the Golf Writers Association of America, an international organization of 950 members. He also joins join Jack Berry and John Walter in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.
He followed Berry as the golf writer at the Detroit News in 1994 after working for several years on a bevy of beats. He covered his first major golf championship in 1973 when Johnny Miller won at Oakmont.
Kupelian, a graduate of Highland Park High School and Wayne State University, has authored three books on golf, including one on Tiger Woods, the most recent “100-year History of Red Run Golf Club” and “Chuck Kocsis, Michigan’s Golfer of the 20th Century,” which he wrote pro-bono with proceeds going to the Michigan Golf Foundation. This year his book on Oakland Hills Country Club will be published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the prestigious club in 2016.
Currently, the 67-year-old Farmington Hills resident is part of a weekly radio show in the Detroit market, writes a weekly column for PGATOUR.com as Champions Tour insider, works as a lead writer for Masters.com during the Masters Tournament each year at Augusta National Golf Club, is a senior correspondent for Global Golf Post, and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Golf Association of Michigan and chairman of the GAM communications committee.
The induction of Iverson, Werkmeister, Rieke and Kupelian brings Hall of Fame membership to 105. In November it was announced that Ferris State University had been selected as the new location of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame and its collection of plaques, portraits and memorabilia that commemorate its members.
Learn more about the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame at its website — www. michigan-golf-foundation.com. For more information about this year’s induction ceremony, contact Loretta Larkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (248) 719-0650.