Chet VandenBerg, left, and Bill Zylstra
Six Teams, Including Hall of Famer Bill Zylstra, Advance in GAM Senior/Mid-Am Team Championship
DEARBORN – Chet VandenBerg’s planned partner, Chip Anderson, has an injury and was not going to be able to play in the 13th GAM Senior/Mid-Am Team Championship, so VandenBerg called the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) office to withdraw.
He was told Michigan Golf Hall of Famer Bill Zylstra was looking for a partner.
“I thought no way Bill Zylstra is looking for a partner, so I called, he said, ‘let’s play,’ and we met for the first time on the first tee and had a good day,” VandenBerg said after the duo combined to top the field at Dearborn Country Club Monday.
“I mean, I knew of him, knew his accolades and I know we played in some of the same tournaments back in the day, but I never played with him or against him in anything before. He’s absolutely the most genuine, humble guy and for a guy that’s 71 he definitely still has game.”
Vandenberg, 33 and a Portage resident, and Zylstra from Dearborn Heights, shot a 6-under 65 in the morning four-ball round, and then shot 70 in the foursomes or alternate shot round to post a 135 total, 10 better than the next two teams. Zylstra has been on the overall champion team twice in the tournament’s history. He won the first with partner Tom Katanski in 2010 and repeated in 2011 with Mike Ignasiak.
“I played pretty well, but not out of the gates and Bill was solid all day,” Vandenberg said. “He made a really good par putt on No. 5, our third hole, and after that it sounds crazy to say, but it was a stress-free round. We started out with a lot of pars, but then we made some birdies and had some tap-ins and easy par putts. Then in foursomes we made three birdies and two bogeys and there was really never a time where either of us put the other in a bad position. Like Bill said, we kept the damage to a minimum.”
Dearborn CC along with Flint Golf Club and Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor each hosted one third of the Senior/Mid-Am field over the last two Mondays.
A field of 116 teams, or 232 of Michigan’s top golfers, competed in the opening segment of the popular championship that features a Senior golfer (55-and-over) teamed up with a Mid-Amateur golfer (23-and-over). The teams played four-ball, also known as best-ball, in a morning round, and foursomes, also known as alternate shot, in the afternoon rounds.
In addition to taking home first-place trophies, Vandenberg and Zylstra are among the three winning teams and three runner-up teams from the three sites that earned invitations to the finals of the championship on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at Meadowbrook Country Club in Northville.
The runner-up team moving on to the finals from Dearborn was Tom and Nikolas Senkowski of Rochester, who shot 70 and 75 for 145. They bested the team of John Butterfield of Hillsdale and Samuel Webster of Horton, who also shot 70 and 75, in a scorecard playoff for the finals slot.
Earning the win last week at Flint Golf Club was Gary Rymiszewski of Oxford and Frank Comito of Macomb, who shot 70 and 69 for 139.
Greg Davies of West Bloomfield and Ian Harris of Bloomfield Hills shot 67 and 73 for 140, and Wayne Hamal of Kingsley and Scott Ostby of Empire shot 69 and 71 for 140. Davies and Harris won the finals spot in a scorecard playoff.
Earning the win last week at Travis Pointe was David LeVan of Bloomfield Hills and JJ Modell of Ann Arbor. They shot rounds of 68 and 75 for 143.
Three teams shot 145 and the scorecard playoff winners headed to the finals are Kevin Nelson and Willard Richart of Saline, who shot 71 and 74.
Todd Hoag of Caledonia and Steve Quist of Grand Rapids, who shot 71 and 74, and Greg Housner of Howell and Jay Phillion of Ann Arbor, who shot 69 and 76, were the other two teams at 145.