99th Michigan Women’s Amateur Begins Monday

Spring Lake Country Club: Perfect Host for 99th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship

SAPRING LAKE – Seven-time Michigan Women’s Amateur Champion Patti Shook Boice doesn’t compete any longer, but the Spring Lake Country Club member plans to be on hand to watch the best golfers in Michigan play next week.

The 99th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship presented by the West Michigan Golf Show starts Monday at Spring Lake, which has a proud history of providing a playing ground for competitive women golfers.

The 104-year-old club West Michigan club has a 94-year-old invitational for women, which is the oldest invitational for women in the state and once had golf legend Babe Zaharias in the field. That makes it the perfect place to host the oldest tournament for women in the state Monday through Friday.

“It says a lot for the membership at Spring Lake that for all these years they have provided their course for women to play great tournaments,” Boice said. “They have always been forward-thinking and willing to do their part for the betterment of the game. I’m thrilled the championship is here this year. It will be exciting to see all the great players.”

Jennifer Elsholz of Grand Rapids, the 2014 champion, is not in the field. The recent University of Toledo graduate is preparing this week for LPGA Tour Qualifying and plans a professional career. The starting field of 80 golfers is still loaded with talent, however.

Emmie Pietila of Brighton, the 2012 champion and a University of Tennessee golfer, is in the field after missing last year’s championship because of illness.

Of last year’s prestigious “Sweet 16” in the 98th championship, nine are in the field, including four of the quarterfinalists – Allyson Geer of Brighton, Hailey Hrynewich of Muskegon, Emmie’s sister Hannah Pietila and Jacqueline Setas of East Lansing.

Geer, 16, was an AJGA All-American last summer. Hrynewich, an Ohio University golfer, was the low amateur in the recent Michigan Women’s Open. Hannah Pietila, also a University of Tennessee golfer and Setas, a Michigan State golfer, are top players in the GAM Honor Roll.

Emma Salata of Ann Arbor and Kaitlyn Watkins, a pair of Western Michigan University golfers, made it to the Sweet 16 last year and are back, as are Saline nurse and former Grand Valley State golfer Sarah Hoffman, Oakland University golfer Danielle Crilley of East Lansing and Michigan State golfer Gabrielle Yurik of Oakland.

Sarah White of Caledonia, last year’s GAM Junior Girls Player of the Year and this year’s Michigan Junior Amateur Champion, is in the field. She is headed to Western Michigan in the fall.

Avery Rochester of Marquette, a Northern Michigan University golfer, and Mariah Massa of Holt, a Michigan State golfer, had recent top five finishes in the GAM Women’s Championship. They are also playing.

Boice, 72 and the daughter of a golf professional Loren Shook, not only won the championship a record seven times, she was runner-up six times. Her first win was in 1967, but she won again in 1971 and ’73 before winning a record four consecutive in ’76, ’77, ’78 and ’79.

She said several of her friends and former competitors have reached out and plan to come watch the action this week, too.

She noted that her trophies at homes show some great names of the past winners. LPGA pioneer Shirley Spork, Meg Mallon, Elaine Crosby, Joan Garety, Mary Jane Anderson and Becky Iverson are all Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members like Boice who have won the Amateur.

She said the golfers this week will find a course that has stood the test of time.

“You have always had to hit the ball fairly straight because of the trees,” she said. “You use all of your clubs because there are tough sand traps, some doglegs. It’s always been a fun course to play, but challenging. It amazes me how far the girls hit the ball these days. They will have to move the tees back. The girls are so talented and they come from great high school and college programs. It’s exciting.”

In addition to its classic country club course, the club features a Spanish style clubhouse that was built in 1926 and is maintained impeccably. The staff of the full-service club is headed by Kevin Green, the general manager. The superintendent is Matt Gaver. Josh Lathwell is the PGA Professional. Visit www.springlakecc.com for more information.

The starting field will play 36 holes of stroke play Monday and Tuesday to determine a low 32 scorers to fill out the match play bracket. Match play will start Wednesday and continue through Friday to determine a champion. As with all GAM events, the public is welcome free of charge.

The GAM, which will conduct the championship, was founded in 1919 as the governing body for amateur golf in the state. As a not-for-profit organization, the GAM’s purpose is to represent, promote, preserve, and serve the best interests of the game. The GAM provides membership to more than 60,000 golfers and more than 400 golf courses while conducting over 40 amateur championships and United States Golf Association (USGA) qualifying events. The tournament director is Ken Hartmann.

For information, the starting field list, tee times and tournament results visit www.gam.org.

via Greg Johnson

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