By Chris Whitten
Three short months ago, a natural excitement was building for spring and the beginning of the golf season. None of us knew how life was about to change. COVID-19 made a dramatic impact on Michiganders.
Now, as regions of the state are in various stages of returning, golf is happy to be at the front of allowable activities. I’m hopeful for the season and pleased to tell Michigan golfers, “Welcome back.”
The GAM is entering “Michigan Am Week” at Boyne Highlands. We’re thrilled to head up north, see friends and conduct the 109th installment of this historic championship.
The GAM planned for many scenarios heading into the season and as things stand today, we are fortunate to offer the majority of our championships and golf days to our members. Our Championship Committee thought critically about our procedures to best mitigate risk at events for players, course staff and GAM volunteers. We felt strongly that we could create environments for competitive golf that promote safety appropriately. After a few weeks of competitions, we have heard positive reviews.
You likely heard that the USGA made the difficult decision to cancel many of their national championships and all qualifying hosted by Allied Golf Associations like the GAM. As partners, we continue to communicate on a national level to pull in best practices from around the country and share what’s happening in Michigan.
In my personal visits to courses, I meet players who are tremendously happy and grateful to be back on the course. We will not take for granted our time with friends and family on our beautiful courses. Each of us loves the game for a list reasons, and I think this season our lists have grown even longer.
One specific example of high demand to return that we’ve seen is in junior golf. Youth on Course set a new record in Michigan for number of rounds played in the month of May. Thanks to generous donors, the GAM Foundation partners with public courses to provide rounds of golf to youth age 6-18 for $5 or less.
I want to thank my colleagues in the Michigan Golf Alliance for their thoughtful approach the past few months as well. As a group, we drew on relationships in Lansing to ask questions, clarify orders, and advocate for a carefully considered return to the course. Most of this work was done quietly behind the scenes, and I can say that the Michigan golf industry has smart, passionate professionals in its corner working to make the game better for all.
This summer let’s all keep the new guidelines in mind, support local courses, and most of all enjoy the game! Make it a great season.