ADA TOWNSHIP – The 94th Michigan PGA Professional Championship is Monday through Wednesday at Egypt Valley Country Club, and in addition to being a state championship for Michigan golf professionals it serves as the starting point on the road to the PGA Championship of 2016.
Brian Cairns of Fox Hills Learning Center in Plymouth, a three-time Michigan PGA Professional Champion, is playing today with the world’s best golfers in the PGA at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis. His road to playing with the tour stars on television started in the championship Egypt Valley hosts next week.
A field of 132 professionals, including Cairns, will play in the 54-hole $52,000 championship on the Valley and Ridge courses, as well as the two back nines that make up what is called the Championship course at Egypt Valley.
The low nine golfers, besides Cairns and former PGA Professional national champion and Michigan PGA defending champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City Golf & Country Club, who are already qualified, earn spots in the PGA Professional National Championship at Turning Stone Resort in Verona, New York on June 26-29, 2016. The low 20 finishers there move on to next year’s PGA at Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J.
Cairns, who won his Michigan PGA Professional titles in 1996, 2000 and 2013, is one of nine former champions in the field at Egypt Valley, including former Grand Rapids resident and seven-time winner Hebert (2006, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’11, ’12, ‘14), Ron Beurmann of Country Club of Jackson (2010), Grand Rapids resident Joe Pollack of Greg Norman Collection (2004), Tom Harding of Kendall Golf Academy in Ypsilanti (1997), Steve Brady of Oakland Hills Country Club (1993, ’95), Barry Redmond of Boyne Golf Academy (1990), Jack Seltzer of King Par Golf in Flushing (1988) and Randy Erskine, a PGA Life Member from Rochester (1978). Harding and Pollack each have Egypt Valley ties as former assistant professionals at the club.
Egypt Valley, a 36-hole facility designed by Arthur Hills and celebrating its 25th year this summer, will be hosting the championship for the next two years. The field will play the Ridge course Monday, the Valley course Tuesday and the Championship course for the final round after a 36-hole cut to the low 60 scorers and ties.
The PGA Professional Championship dates to 1922 and past champions include Walter Hagen, Chuck Kocsis, Jimmy Demaret, Chick Harbert, Horton Smith, John Barnum, Marvin Stahl, Randy Erskine, Buddy Whitten and former Egypt Valley professional Lynn Janson, all Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members.
Green Ridge of Comstock Park was where the Egypt Valley membership was first established as a club in 1931 with a purchase of the then Masonic Country Club. The Green Ridge site was sold for development in 1990 and the membership moved to the newly purchased site bordered by Egypt Valley Road in Ada Township.
Egypt Valley has a rich tournament history in just 25 years, including being host of a Champions Tour (then Senior PGA Tour) event from 1994 to 2003. Winners at Egypt Valley included Tony Jacklin, David Stockton, Gil Morgan, George Archer, Larry Nelson and Jim Thorpe.
The club also hosted the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, which was won by Jim Liu, most recently a Stanford University golfer, and included in the field current PGA Tour standouts Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
Egypt Valley also hosted the Michigan Amateur Championship in 1994 and will again in 2017. The 1994 Amateur was won by Brian Atkinson of Cassopolis, then a University of Illinois golfer, who beat Egypt Valley member Kurt Hassberger in the championship match. The Michigan Women’s Amateur has been played at the club twice (1996 and 2007). Then EVCC member Stacy Slobodnik (Stoll), who is now the head women’s golf coach at Michigan State University, won in 1996, and Laura Bavaird of Grosse Ile won in 2007.
The Michigan PGA Professional Championship is presented by Club Car, Mercedes-Benz and OMEGA with supporting sponsors Titleist/Footjoy, Nike Golf, TaylorMade-adidas, Ashworth Golf and the PGA Tour. Justin Phillips of the Michigan PGA will be the tournament director.
See www.michiganpgagolf.com for more information, live scoring during the tournament and tee times. Gallery is welcome. Parking and admission are free. More information on Egypt Valley is available at www.egyptvalley.com.