REDFORD – Western Golf & Country Club is ready for the golfers who will compete starting Monday in the 102nd Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship.
“The golf course has been great all year, and is great leading into this big event,” said Brandon DiPaola, the head golf professional complimenting the first-year superintendent Michael Montney.
Fire destroyed the clubhouse at Western on June 1, but a large pavilion style building has been erected in the courtyard of the clubhouse, and the building that houses the pro shop and snack shop at the course across from the main clubhouse was not damaged.
“We have an amazing golf course and we are doing everything we can to make things go as normal as they can,” DiPaola said. “There was never a thought of canceling anything, even our club events. We just kept on playing. We had our Men’s Invitational two weeks after the fire. Our membership is excited about hosting the tournament.”
Ken Hartmann, senior director of rules and competitions for the GAM, said the club put to rest any concerns he had in the days immediately following the fire.
“The pavilion that the club put up is great and full service, and the golf course and everything across from the courtyard there was not damaged,” he said. “It’s all going according to plan. It’s a great golf course, and Western is excited to host the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship.”
Western’s timeless Donald Ross-designed course will test the top women golfers in the state Monday through Friday. The field will play two rounds of stroke play to determine a low 32 scorers to fill out the match play bracket. Round of 32 matches will be on Wednesday with Sweet 16 and quarterfinal rounds on Thursday and semifinals and the final match on Friday.
This will be the third time the state championship has been played at Western, but the first since 1963. The club also hosted the 1930 Michigan Women’s Amateur just three years after the course opened to play in 1927.
Defending champion Aya Johnson of Muskegon, a University of Wisconsin golfer, heads the field. She beat Katelyn Chipman in last year’s final, and Chipman, a Grand Valley State University golfer, is returning as well.
Kerrigan Parks of Flushing, the 2017 GAM Women’s Champion, and Anna Kramer of Spring Lake, the 2016 GAM Women’s Champion, are also in the field.
Elayna Bowser, who played this week in the U.S. Women’s Amateur in Tennessee, is playing. Allyson Geer, the 2016 and 2017 champion, elected not to enter. She also was playing in the U.S. Women’s Amateur after recently getting married.
Those in the field will be taking on what DiPaola called a shotmaker’s course.
“The fairways are narrow, it has small undulating greens and puts a priority on accuracy and the short game as well,” he said. “It has character, too, and will be great for match play. Our club championship is always match play, and always comes down to the last few holes.”
Western can name drop with the best golf clubs in its history. In April of 1927, the course’s first year, golf legend Walter Hagen, then the reigning British Open champion, played the reigning U.S. Open champion Johnny Farrell in an exhibition match at Western. Hagen won. Gene Sarazen is another golf legend who played a match at the club as well. In 1956 the club hosted the Motor City Open won by Bob Rosburg. In 1960 Western hosted the Western Golf Association’s Western Open, which at time was regarded as one of the major championships on the PGA Tour. Stan Leonard beat Art Wall in a playoff.
As for the women champions in Western history, that 1930 Michigan Women’s Amateur was won by Vi Hanley, a world traveler, writer and later a University of Michigan physical education teacher. She also won in 1924 and ’27 at other sites.
The 1963 Michigan Women’s Amateur winner at Western was Sally Sharp-Werner, a four-time winner between 1956 and ’63 and the state’s dominant woman player in the 1950s. She beat legend Patti Shook-Boice in ’63 in the final match.
Mara Mizzoni-Craver is the current women’s club champion at Western and holds the course record of 5-under 67. The 36-year-old working mother and former Oakland University golfer is playing in the state championship, her first appearance since college days. She said hosting the Amateur has generated a lot of excitement at the club, and that she expects a great reaction from the field of golfers.
“It’s not easy here, but while it is challenging it is also fun and it a classic course that the members believe still plays the way Donald Ross would have wanted it to play,” she said.
The public is welcome to attend free of charge. Find tee times and bracket information at gam.org.
Note media: Work space will be available for those wishing to cover the championship, and Greg Johnson, the media coordinator; will provide a press release and action photos each day of the championship. He can be reached at 616-560-8995 or firstname.lastname@example.org through the week.
Attached: An action shot of Aya Johnson of Muskegon from last year’s championship at Saginaw Country Club.
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 as well as staff, provides membership to 60,000 golfers and more than 470 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 gam.org.