GAM PLAYERS OF THE DECADE: Tom Werkmeister, Christine Meier, Randy Lewis and Julie Massa
FARMINGTON HILLS – Tom Werkmeister of Grand Rapids and Christine Meier of Rochester Hills dominated as amateurs during the last decade and then turned professional. They have been named the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) Players of the Decade.
Randy Lewis of Alma and Julie Massa of Holt demonstrated as seniors that golf is the game of a lifetime, and that elite play can remain a part of it. They have been named the GAM Senior Players of the Decade.
“We charted the GAM Honor Roll numbers for the decade in determining this,” Ken Hartmann, the GAM senior director of competitions said. “The cream rises to the top. All of them are exceptional golfers and people.”
Werkmeister, a Detroit native, has been a five-time GAM Player of the Year and in the last decade won the 2017 Michigan Amateur Championship, his second, the 2016 GAM Championship, led GAM’s Michigan team to the 2016 USGA State Team Championship as national co-medalist, won four of his record six GAM Mid-Amateur Championships and in 2013 was the first amateur to win the Michigan Open Championship in 38 years.
He won 10 state championships after the age of 35 and turned professional in 2018 at the age of 50 to pursue a PGA Tour Champions career. The 52-year-old Werkmeister said Player of the Decade was among his goals, and he even worked the honor roll numbers to see if he had a chance.
“It was actually a huge goal of mine because I came so close in the last decade,” he said. “I didn’t play in a lot of events in the early 2000s so that meant I missed out on getting that one. I started this decade playing in a lot more events and I had success. Trust me, this was a goal and I’m very excited and very honored to win. The GAM has been great for me and my golf career. I’m a professional now and I miss the people I played against and the tournaments I got to play in as an amateur. I have great memories though and this adds to them.”
Meier, a Rochester Hills native who in 2020 will be an assistant professional at Bloomfield Hills Country Club, won the 2011 and 2013 Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship to highlight the last decade, but also qualified for the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open Championship and in 2013 made it to match play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
The 2009 GAM Women’s Champion was a GAM Player of the Year once and runner-up in three seasons. She turned professional after playing for Michigan State University and played primarily on the LPGA’s Symetra Tour until taking on an assistant professional position in the summer of 2019 at Country Club of Detroit.
The 28-year-old golfer has worked this winter and early spring as an assistant professional at The Club at Mediterra in Naples, Fla. She said she was completely surprised to be named the Player of the Decade.
“I don’t know where the time has gone, but in some ways it feels like my amateur golf was a long time ago,” she said. “The GAM was a huge part of my amateur career and winning the two amateurs is really special. I’m really very proud of what I’ve done in golf. Professional golf is a tough thing because sometimes you lose sight of everything else you’ve accomplished. Half of one percent of golfers have not done the things I’ve done, so looking back on it, it’s really cool that this has happened. It’s another thing that helps me see everything I’ve accomplished.”
Lewis, 62, didn’t start earning Honor Roll points as a senior (age 55 for male amateurs) until 2012 but achieved remarkably in 2011 when he won U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at the age of 54, the oldest to ever achieve the feat. It earned him an invitation to the 2012 Masters Tournament. In the decade he was a four-time Senior Player of the Year, won the 2014 and 2017 Senior Match Play Championships and in 2017 won the senior division of the GAM Mid-Amateur.
The GAM Player of the Decade for the 1990s, Lewis has won two Michigan Amateur Championships, a GAM Championship and a GAM Mid-Amateur title among other titles. He has also competed in 26 USGA national championships.
“It’s kind of cool to do it as a senior after I was the Player of the Decade in the 1990s,” he said. “I’m a little surprised because the last few years I’ve been injured a lot and that limited my schedule. I have concentrated on the USGA championships and played in like 15 of them in the last decade so I’m sure that helped. This is very nice. It is great to still be able to continue to compete through the different phases of my career. The GAM has meant a lot to me, and this means I’ve played at fairly high level for a long time.”
For the last five years of the decade, essentially since she turned age 50 and became a senior woman golfer, Massa has been the GAM Women’s Senior Player of the Year.
In the decade she won the 2013 GAM Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, the 2017 GAM Women’s Senior Championship, the 2017 and 2018 Michigan Women’s Senior Amateur Championships and in 2019 won both the GAM Tournament of Champions and the GAM Senior Tournament of Champions.
A former Oregon Women’s Amateur Champion, the 56-year-old Massa has won 14 times in GAM championships in her career and played in 20 USGA national championships. She said she had not thought about being Player of the Decade and is greatly surprised.
“I’m sure it was close in figuring out this because there are so many great senior women golfers that I play against each year,” she said. “Everyone is so competitive, and such great players who love to compete. I really have to be on top of my game to win. Everybody is great, so nice, but they are all trying to do the same thing I am. I keep playing because I still want to be competitive and still want to work on my game and see where it takes me. I enjoy playing competitive golf, the GAM tournaments are great for us and I’m so honored to win this.”
via Greg Johnson