By the time second round leaders Ariya Jutanugarn and So Yeon Ryu teed off, some sizable crowds had gathered at the Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor. I think organizers are probably pleased at the turnout.
I followed Jutanugarn for several holes and was very much impressed with her power. She doesn’t carry a driver, but still hits the ball an astoundingly long way. She also has power on the approach. She’s one of the few I saw who was able to put backspin on her wedge shots. With that kind of power, it is no wonder she currently is looking for her third win in a row.
Jutanugarn is not he only one with a long game. Earlier in the day, I followed Sadena Parks for three holes, and watched her uncork drives of 300, 300 and 295. This year, Parks has averaged 274 off the tee. At just 5’4″ and very slight of build, the power she gets is amazing.
Give the very high quality of their games, I am puzzled as to why the LPGA Tour is not more popular. These ladies hit it further and more accurately than 90% of weekend golfers. Their short games are stellar, too. In fact, what they do on the course is much more a model for the weekend golfer than the unfathomable games we see on the PGA TOUR.
Remember this: Multiple studies have shown that the average male golfer hits the ball just 200 yards (but THINKS he hits its thirty yards further.)
The LPGA players also could not be friendlier. I saw players occasionally stop to sign autographs mid round — especially for young girls — even though that is more than a bit of an intrusion (this is not to encourage autograph seekers, because interrupting a round for autographs is just wrong, but an acknowledgement of just how aware the players are of their fans). The LPGA players smiled and waved at fans while waiting their turn on tee boxes. And I saw them thanking volunteers all along the way — for opening rope barriers, for silencing fans, opening doors at the clubhouse and for other small services. After a round, I saw a group of players giving signed balls and gloves to the volunteers who carried their score signs.
The ninth green was a very busy place, with sizable crowds gathering on the rises that surround the green. The DTE Energy Military Pavilion was full every time I passed.
On Saturday, an honor guard was present hold the Folds of Honor flag as players putted. Quite a few players took the time to shake the hands of military personnel who were present before they were shuttled off to the somewhat-distant tenth tee.
Folds of Honor is a charitable organization, founded by Major Dan Rooney, that provides scholarships to the families of service members killed or disabled in service to their country. On Patriot Golf Day on Labor Day weekend, golfers are asked to add a little extra to their greens fees by way of a donation at participating courses.
The ninth hole also was the site of an appearance of three “Rosie The Riveters.” Throughout the day, fans looking skyward have seen vintage aircraft from the Yankee Air Museum at nearby Willow Run.
During World War II, Willow Run was the site of the B-24 bomber plant — part of the Arsenal of Democracy that saved the world from fascism. The plant employed Henry Ford’s mass production techniques, and many of the workers were, necessarily, women. Rosie The Riveter has become an historic icon.
An original Rosie The Riveter is in attendance at the tournament, watching from the comfort of an eighteenth hole pavilion.
Ann Arbor townies and art fans need no introduction to Motawi Tileworks. But if you’re visiting from out of town, and want a totally unique piece of memorabilia, or a gift to take back home, Motawi is selling commemorative tournament tiles at their tent just off the putting green.
They’ve also got a poster of the they created.
It’s a really unique piece of memorabilia.
The tileworks also has a nice selection of their other pieces of art for sale.
So why am I being such a cheerleader for the Volvik Championship? It’s simple. I REALLY want it to succeed (and no, I’m not getting paid for this in any way). The Volvik Championship and the LPGA are good for golf in the area, good for the community, good for the charities, and frankly, the tournament has been a lot of fun for me. Volvik and the tournament organizers have put out a really good product, and I hope that it continues for many more years.
Some more photos from Saturday at the Volvik Championship are below: