DOAK, BRADY, BALMER ELECTED TO THE MICHIGAN GOLF HALL OF FAME
DEXTER, Mich.— The hottest golf course architect in the business, one of the most dominant players in the state who is passing on his knowledge to the wannabes and an executive who rescued the Golf Association of Michigan and patched it back together have been elected to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.
Tom Doak, Steve Brady and Fritz Balmer will be inducted May 19 at the Henry Center at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers West Golf Course.
After college at Cornell, caddying a summer on the Old Course at St. Andrews and then playing and studying Scottish courses for seven months, Doak returned to America, worked for Pete and Alice Dye, settled in northern Michigan where he could play the classic Crystal Downs course by Alister MacKenzie and did his first solo work.
While Doak, 52, lives in Traverse City, he has designed courses in Tasmania, Australia, Mexico, Scotland and 15 states. And he has work in China. He’s the hottest architect in the game with Bucket List courses at Bandon, Ore., (Golf Digest architecture editor calls Pacific Dunes “perhaps the last great meeting of sand and sea on American soil.”), Mullen in the Nebraska sand hills, spectacular Cape Kidnapers in New Zealand, The Renaissance Club in Gullane, Scotland and just-opened Streamsong in Florida, near Lakeland.
Doak’s Michigan courses are High Pointe at Acme, unfortunately closed, Black Forest at Wilderness Valley in Gaylord, and Lost Dunes at Bridgman.
Unlike his mentor Dye, Doak moves little dirt, living up to the “traditionalist” and “classicist” labels that accompany nearly every description of him. He’s also opinionated and his 1996 book The Confidential Guide, published by Sleeping Bear Press, won praise from readers and wry comments by many fellow designers.
Doak said he’s mellowed some over the years and while he remains sought after internationally, he reworked the greens at Country Club of Detroit and then, asked by friend Dave Richards, he designed a practice area with several short greens and bunkering on the campus of Marygrove University. Free.
Steve Brady, 54, has been a dominant player in state play since graduating from Saginaw Valley State University where he made All-American in 1980. He was named to the SVSU Hall of Fame in 2010.
Brady turned pro and played in 10 Buick Opens, played the Ben Hogan (now web.dotcom) Tour, played in two United States Opens and three PGA Championships. Brady always had family support – his wife, Judi, and parents and friends wore BRADY BUNCH shirts and always got gallery support.
Brady became one of the state’s top players at a time when the competition included now current PGA Tour millionaire Tom Gillis, Jeff Roth and Jack Seltzer, both now in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame and sure-to-be member Scott Hebert. He won three Michigan Opens, two PGA Championships, two Michigan Bell Showdowns at Grand Traverse Resort, one Assistant Professional championship and one Shanty Creek title, six Pro-Pro, two Senior-Junior one Pro-Am and one Pro-Assistant, all events sponsored by the Michigan PGA Section.
Brady now is Director of Instruction at Oakland Hills Country Club, his home for 16 years. In addition to teaching club members, Brady gives back to the game. He is volunteer golf coach at Rochester Adams High School, is a CYO basketball and soccer coach, gives numerous free golf clinics and exhibitions to high school and elementary school students and is a volunteer at the Pontiac Soup Kitchen.
Fritz Balmer, 73, began his service to golf in 1975 when, as a member of Spring Meadows Country Club, he became Club Representative to the Golf Association of Michigan, a position he held for nine years. Also in 1975 he began service as a GAM Volunteer Rules Official and he still works that today.
Balmer was appointed a Governor of the GAM in 1986 and chaired the Junior Committee from 1987-1991. He was chairman of the GAM Long Range Planning Committee, member of the Club Relations Committee and somehow managed to find some time to play.
Balmer lettered on the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse golf team in 1966, won the Spring Meadows Club Championship in 1982 and Senior Championship in 1990, 1998 and 2005. Balmer and Fred Tabor paired to win Boyne’s Senior Kircher Cup in 1994.
But Balmer’s primary contribution was in putting the GAM back on solid ground in 2000 when there was a rift among member clubs over handicap service providers and an ill-fated effort to move the headquarters to a golf course site. He was elected GAM president in 2000 and was appointed Interim Executive Director, the association’s paid position. He served as GAM president until 2002 and in 2007 was given the GAM’s Distinguished Service Award.
The induction of Balmer, Brady and Doak brings Hall of Fame membership to 101. Learn more about the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame at its website: http://www.michigan-golf-foundation.com.