BOYNE FALLS – When the Tournament of Champions was launched 25 years ago with juniors, seniors, professionals and amateurs of both sexes all playing for one title from different tee positions, it was one of the most unique golf tournaments in Michigan or any of the other states for that matter.
It remains unique, though copied by some, and clearly successful. The silver anniversary Tournament of Champions starts Monday at Boyne Mountain Resort.
A field of 111 golfers, including all the categories and even members of the same families, will play the three-day, 54-hole stroke play championship on two courses. The Monday round and Wednesday’s final round are on the classic Alpine course, and Tuesdays round is on The Monument course.
A fourth set of tee positions was added this year in response to player feedback for women 50-and-over. A 36-hole cut to the low 60 scorers and ties follows the second round, and the tournament is sanctioned and administered by the Michigan PGA. A purse of $55,000 will be paid to the professionals in the field based on finish.
“I didn’t think when we started that it would go this long, but it is 25 years and it doesn’t look like it is going anyplace soon,” said Bernie Friedrich, Boyne Resort’s senior vice president of golf operations.
“Without reinventing, the tournament has worked and continues to have great participation. There are many great events, but for the players in the Tournament of Champions, it’s an annual tradition – they enjoy the camaraderie, the competition and being in Northern Michigan. We always look forward to this event and are excited to have all the players join us for our 25th year.”
Barrett Kelpin, a professional from Kalamazoo and the defending champion, heads a list of eight past TOC winners in this year’s field.
The other past champs playing are Agim Bardha of Birmingham (1994), who was the first senior winner, Indianapolis teaching professional John DalCorobbo (1998), who finished tied for seventh earlier this year in the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Tom Harding of Kendall Academy in Ypsilanti (1997), Scott Hebert of Traverse City Golf & Country Club (2009), Lee Houtteman of Manitou Passage Golf Club (2011), five-time winner Jeff Roth of San Juan Country Club in New Mexico (1995, ’96, ’99, 2008, ’12) and two-time champion Andy Ruthkoski of Muskegon (2013, 2014).
The only woman to win the TOC, Stacy Snider in 2003, is not entered. The head women’s golf coach at Western Michigan University had back surgery last year.
Suzy Green-Roebuck, the recent Michigan Women’s Open champion at age 49, a former LPGA player and the top female finisher in the tournament several times over the years, is in the field, as is former LPGA standout Elaine Crosby of Jackson.
Kelpin, Wes Gates of Novi, Willie Mack III of Grand Blanc, Otto Black of Pinckney and Jennifer Elsholz of Grand Rapids are among the young mini-tour pros in the field.
Top PGA Section member professionals like Brian Cairns of Fox Hills Learning Center, who is the reigning national PGA Senior Player of the Year, Bob Ackerman of West Bloomfield, Ron Beurmann of CC of Jackson and Dave Kendall of Kendall Academy in Ypsilanti are also playing.
Successful college golfers and amateurs of all ages like Evan Bowser of Dearborn and Oakland University, Julie Guckian of Linden and Grand Valley State University, Mitchell White of Muskegon and Grand Valley State, senior Donna Benford of Linden and senior Mike Tungate of East Lansing are also in the unique competition mix.
Jeff and Steve Cuzzort of Grosse Ile, Jack Seltzer of Linden and John Seltzer of Blythefield in Grand Rapids, Frank McAuliffe of Kendall Academy and Frank IV of Ann Arbor, Bill and Chris Mory of Meridian Sun Golf Club in Haslett and Jodi and Nick Berklich of Indianwood Golf & Country Club are among the family combinations in the tournament.
Kelpin earned $10,000 for his win last year and donned the traditional green jacket befitting Michigan’s version of a Masters Tournament.
Boyne Mountain Resort has been a favorite Midwest destination since 1948. The family-owned, four-season resort has earned Certificates of Excellence from TripAdvisor, and has been recognized by Conde Nast Traveler readers as being among the top 50 Best Places to Ski and Stay in North America. The waterpark is listed among Budget Travel’s Top 10 Indoor facilities and the resort is a readers’ choice favorite of Spa Magazine. Boyne Mountain is home to The Alpine and The Monument golf courses, as well as 60 runs on 415 skiable acres. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, Solace Spa, Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark, Zipline Adventures, disc golf facilities, lift-serviced mountain biking, beach activities, kids programs, lodging, meeting and wedding facilities as well as real-estate are offered at the resort. Find out more at www.BOYNE.com, www.boynemountain.com, www.facebook.com/boynemountain or call 866-759-1472.
Gallery is welcome. Parking and admission are free.
Via Greg Johnson