The Michigan PGA Hall of Fame was founded in 2011 and exists to recognize and acknowledge those PGA Professionals who have excelled in their profession, achieved remarkable accomplishments, and made significant contributions to the game, the industry, and the Michigan PGA. The inductees are honored at the Presidents’ Dinner each fall.
Due to Covid-19 and the inability to have the annual President’s Dinner and Fall Annual Meeting, the committee has agreed to skip any nominations and induction of a class for 2020.
The Michigan PGA Hall of Fame was founded in 2011 and exists to recognize and acknowledge those PGA Professionals who have excelled in their profession, achieved remarkable accomplishments, and made significant contributions to the game, the industry and the Michigan PGA.
Five new members were inducted into the Michigan PGA Hall of Fame during the 2019 President’s Dinner held Sunday, October 27th at the Country Club of Lansing.
Bob Ackerman, Bob Ackerman Golf
Bob Ackerman, a 37-year PGA Member began his career in the Illinois Section, then the New York Section, and finally in the Michigan Section for over 21 years. Throughout the years, Bob learned not only how to play the game, but how to teach it. He has owned and operated Bob Ackerman Golf since 2001. Bob was inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 2017.
He is a Master Professional, 7-time PGA Player of the Year in four different PGA Sections, winner of three State Opens, six Match Play titles and three Section PGA Championships, the only player in the history of Illinois golf to win the Chicago Open, Illinois Open, Illinois PGA and Match Play, and is a four-time Big Ten Champion.
Ron Beurmann, Country Club of Jackson
Ron Beurmann, a PGA Member for 33 years, has served as Head Golf Professional and Director of Golf at The Country Club of Jackson for the past 29 years. He also worked three years as Head Golf Professional at The Flint Elks Country Club and has mentored over 25 Evans Scholars during his career.
His accomplishments include:
Bernie Friedrich, Boyne Resorts
Bernie Friedrich, a 36-year PGA Member, joined the Boyne Resorts team in 1976 when the resort company had three golf courses. He now oversees the company’s 13 courses and semi-private clubs in Maine, Michigan and Montana.
Bernie Friedrich, a 36-year PGA Member, joined the Boyne Resorts team in 1976 when the resort company had three golf courses. He now oversees the company’s 13 courses and semi-private clubs in Maine, Michigan and Montana as the Senior Vice President of Golf Operations and Resort Sales.
Bernie currently serves as a member of the Michigan Golf Course Owners Association Board of Directors, adidas’ Dassler Board, and the Michigan PGA’s Employment Committee. He is also a past member of America’s Summer Golf Capital’s Board and founding member of The First Tee of Northern Michigan.
Bernie’s accomplishments include:
John Lindert, Country Club of Lansing
John Lindert, a PGA Member for 36 years, has served on the PGA Board of Directors since 2016 and four national PGA Committees:
John was elected PGA of America Secretary at the 2018 PGA Annual Meeting and is the COO/Director of Golf at Country Club of Lansing.
John’s accomplishments include:
Al Mengert, PGA Life Member
Al Mengert, a 62-year PGA Member, turned professional in 1952 and competed on the tour in 27 major championships, including eight Masters. He served as an assistant to former Masters champion Claude Harmon at Winged Foot and worked his way to Director of Golf at 10 famous clubs in America, including Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
While at Oakland Hills, Al hosted the National PGA Championship in 1979, the US Senior Open in 1981, and the US Open in 1985. During his tenure at Oakland Hills, Al won the Michigan PGA Championship—1976, 1980, Michigan Senior Open—1983, 1985, and the Michigan Senior PGA—1980, 1983, 1986.
Al’s contributions to golf are many. Early on in his career, he designed clubs for MacGregor and Spalding. In retirement, Al designed a series of wedges and utility woods for his own golf club company, JAWS. Al was also the founder and developer of Legend Trail Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ, a well-known public course in the area.
Richard M. Stewart
Richard M. Stewart has been a PGA Member since 1979 and is in his 40th season as the Head Golf Professional at Kalamazoo Country Club, the longest tenure in the Section.
Dick served as the Michigan PGA President 1993-1995. His career has included awards such as:
Tom Harding has been a PGA member since 1997 and is in his 13th season as the Senior Instructor at Kendall Academy at Miles of Golf. Harding also served as an Assistant Professional and Teaching Professional at both Meadowbrook Country Club and Egypt Valley Country Club.
John was the Head Golf Professional at Blythefield Country Club in Belmont, Michigan for more than 20 years from 1950 until 1973. He was a dominant player in the Michigan Section and Western Chapter in the 1950’s and 60’s. Barnum holds two unique distinctions in professional golf. He is the only player ever to win his first PGA Tour event, the 1962 Cajun Classic, after reaching the age of 50, and was also the first to win a PGA Tour event using a Ping Putter. Barnum won the Cajun Classic over a strong field and beat runner-up Gay Brewer by six strokes. He was also the runner-up three times in the Senior PGA Championship (1963, 1964 and 1966). He finished tied for 31st in the 1950 United States Open and tied for 16th in the 1958 PGA Championship.
In Michigan, Barnum won the Michigan Open four times, 1950, 1958, 1960 and 1961. He won the Michigan Section PGA Championship in 1957, 1958 and 1961, and was the Section Senior Champion on five occasions. Barnum dominated the Western Chapter Championship during his years at Blythefield.
John Barnum was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1972 and the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 1984.
Steve’s impact on Michigan golf is especially evident from the two honors he has received from the Flint Junior Golf Association and the American Junior Golf Association. The FJGA named a tournament in his honor, the Steve Braun Cup, after Steve served as the executive director for ten years (1975-1985) and dramatically helped grow the association. The AJGA’s National Service Award, the Digger Smith Award, was presented to Steve in 1992 where he worked as the tournament director. Steve received the Special Service Award when he was named to the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
Steve began his PGA golf professional apprenticeship at Dunmaglas Golf Club in Charlevoix which led to the opportunity to become the head professional at Belvedere Country Club for 14 years. In 1994, Steve co-founded the Charlevoix County Junior Golf Association and currently serves as its President. After serving as the Governor of the Golf Association since 2004, he took over as its President in 2016.
Brian was born and raised in Metro Detroit and attended Bishop Foley High School. While in high school, he lettered in wrestling and golf for four years. An accomplished junior golfer, Brian developed his skills playing at Red Run Golf Club. He earned a scholarship and played four years Division II college golf at Barry University in Miami, Florida.
After college, Brian worked in Florida and mentored under Mr. Ed Furgol. Soon after, he returned to Michigan and worked at clubs such as Country Club ofDetroit, Dearborn Country Club and Orchard Lake Country Club. In the late 90’s, Brian played full time achieving conditional status on the currently named Web.Com Tour.
Brian Cairns’ Playing Accomplishments and Awards
Emil Beck, who served the Soo Golf Club in Sault Ste. Marie for five years and Black River Country Club in Port Huron for 25 years, was a founder, national committee chairman and for 11 years director of the PGA Business School, which started as the Dunedin Educational and Professional Training Program. In 1975 he was the national Horton Smith Award winner, served as the Michigan PGA President in 1951-52 and was Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 1962. Beck, a Nebraska native, was also a life member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
Joe Devany, a Grosse Ile golf professional, served two stints as Michigan Section President (1931-32 and 1948-50) and in 1956 was Michigan Section Golf Professional of the Year. In 1957 he became one of the original teachers of the Dunedin Educational and Professional Training Program, which later became the PGA Business School. He was active nationally with the PGA of America as a chairman of national committees, such as the War Program in 1952, the Annual Meeting in 1953 and the Active Services and Veterans Programs in 1954. The Michigan PGA Pro-Assistants Championship Trophy is named the Joe Devany Trophy in his honor.
Wilfrid E. Reid, a world-class golfer and renowned golf course designer from England, visited the United States with golf legends Ted Ray and Harry Vardon in 1914 to play in the U.S. Open Championship, and later emigrated and worked at several golf clubs as a professional, including Country Club of Detroit. He was one of the original members of the PGA of America, served on the National Executive Committee of the PGA of America as vice-president at large, vice-president in 1920 and 1921 and was a member of the organizing committee of the Philadelphia Section of the PGA of America. He was president of the Michigan Section from 1928-30.
Alex Ross, a world class player from England, the third golf professional at Detroit Golf Club and the brother of famed course designer Donald Ross, was the first president of the Michigan Section in 1922. He first came to the U.S. to play in the U.S. Open and in 1907 was the champion at Philadelphia Cricket Club. He went on to have five top 10s in U.S. Open play. He is most famous at Detroit Golf Club for giving Horace Rackham, a charter member of the club, his first golf lesson.
Don Soper, a golf professional who also designed golf courses like Royal Oak Golf Club, which is on Don Soper Drive, was president of the Michigan Section 1961-63, and three times was Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year (1966, ‘76 and ’78). Also in 1978, he was named the PGA of America’s Golf Professional of the Year and is enshrined in the national PGA of America Hall of Fame.
Frank Sprogell, who served as a golf professional and superintendent at several Michigan courses including Meadowbrook and Blythefield, was working as the Head Professional and General Manager at PGA Golf Club in Dunedin, Fla., in 1954 when he organized a group of sales representatives to show merchandise in his parking lot. By 1957 the sale had grown large enough for him to rent a tent. This annual gathering later became the PGA Merchandise Show. He also served golf as president of the Michigan Section from 1941-47 and nationally was secretary of the PGA of America from 1941-46.
Gary Whitener, a caddie at age 11 at Western Country Club, an Evans Scholar at Michigan State University, golf professional at Tam O’Shanter and Knollwood, ran the Livonia municipal courses and the driveway at Whispering Willows is named Gary Whitener Drive. He also was involved in golf course ownership in Plymouth and Monroe. He served the Michigan Section from 1978-89 as a board member, officer and committee chairperson while also serving the PGA of America as a District 5 Director for two years, chairman of the Special Awards Committee, vice-chairman of the Education Committee, at-large member of the Section Affairs Committee and others. He was the Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 1989. A Farmington Hills resident, he passed away unexpectedly in May. He was 77.
Ken Allard became a member of the PGA in 1982. For the past 11 years Ken has been a successful teaching professional at the Detroit Golf Club. Other clubs he has served include The Wyndgate, Birmingham Country Club and Oakland University. During his 32 years as a member of the Michigan PGA Ken has served as President, Vice President and Secretary of the Senior Organization. He was Player of the Year in 1991. Ken has a long history of tremendous playing accomplishments, including:
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.
Dave Kendall was elected to PGA Membership on April 1, 1981. On that very day, he became the Head Professional at Cadillac Country Club. A Graduate of the Professional Golf Management Program at Ferris State University, Dave, along with fellow classmate, Phil Benson, became the first PGA Member Head Professionals from a PGM Program.
Since 1981, Dave has distinguished himself for his service to his PGA Chapter, Section, and PGA of America. He has also been recognized for his playing ability and his contributions to Golf Instruction and Player Development.
Dave’s service to PGA began in 1982 when he was appointed to the Western Chapter Policy Board. His service continues over 30 years later. In between, Dave served the Northern Chapter in every office including 2 terms as President. Over the years, Dave has served the Michigan Section and the Section Board of Directors as a Member of several Section Committees, including a term as Tournament Committee Chairman. Dave became a Section Officer in 2004, the same year the Michigan Section hosted the Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills. During his term as Section President, the Michigan Section hosted the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. From 2008 through 2012, Dave served the PGA of America as a Member of the PGA of America Tournament Committee. His service continues today, as Honorary President of the Michigan PGA Seniors Organization. Dave has been a Member of the Section Board of Directors for 23 years.
As a competitive player Dave has won 2 Northern Chapter Championships, a Chapter Match Play Championship, 3 State Pro-Pros, 2 State Pro-Ams, and qualified for 10 PGA PNC Championships. A late bloomer as a player, since the age of 50, Dave has compiled quite a resume. In 2007, Dave won both the Michigan Senior Open and the Michigan Senior PGA. Since then he has won another Michigan Senior Open, in 2009, and the Senior PGA Match Play Championship, in 2012. He qualified for the Senior PGA PNC 7 times and played in the National PGA Senior Championship in 2011. He has qualified for the Fuller Cup team 6 times, 5 times since age 50.
Dave has been recognized by Ferris State University as recipient of its Norm Bennett Award and Bill Strausbaugh Award, by the Northern Chapter PGA as recipient of the Golf Professional of the Year, Horton Smith Award, and Player of the Year, each twice, by the Michigan PGA as recipient of the Golf Professional of the Year, in 1991 and 2006, Teacher of the Year, in 2000 and 2004, Horton Smith Award, in 2010, and Senior Player of the Year, in 2007.
His greatest source of pride is the Kendall Academy of Golf. Since its founding the Kendall Academy has grown from one Instructor, in 1997, to 9 Instructors at its Miles of Golf location, and relationships with 2 other locations. Since 1997, the Kendall Academy has become very well respected and very highly regarded in Golf Instruction and Player Development. The number of Professional, Amateur, Junior, and High School Championships, All State Awards, All American Awards, Club Championship Awards that have been earned by Kendall Academy Students number in the hundreds. Dave is ranked #2 on Golf Digest’s most recent list of Top Teachers in Michigan and has been ranked since it started its rankings in 2000. Golf Range Magazine has included Dave in its Top 50 Teachers in America from 2003 thru 2013. Dave was inducted into the Jackson, Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
Ronald LaParl was elected to Membership in the PGA of America on June 16, 1945 and elected to the Half Century Club in 1995. Before the age 10, Ron knew he wanted to be a PGA Professional. Without the guidance of a Mother or Father, Ron accomplished his childhood ambition. During his nearly 70 years as a PGA Professional, Ron has been a PGA leader, an outstanding player, an outstanding Teacher, mentor, and a tremendous contributor to his community.
As a PGA leader, Ron served the Western Chapter as President and as a Member of the Polcy Board for many years. Ron served on the Michigan Section Board of Directors for 23 consecutive years and 30 years in all. During that time, Ron served the Michigan Section as a Delegate to the PGA of America Annual Meeting on several occasions. On one occasion, in cooperation with former PGA of America President, Horton Smith, Ron and fellow Delegate, Warren Orlick, presented a Resolution to abolish the Caucasian Only Clause in the PGA of America Constitution, for the first time. Although the Resolution was defeated that year, the discussion was started and the Resolution was presented again, by another Section, and passed the next year. Ron was honored by the Michigan Section as Golf Professional of the Year, in 1969, the Horton Smith Award, in 1980, and Teacher of the Year, in 1989.
As an outstanding player, Ron won the the Western Chapter Championship over one of Michigan’s all time best players, John Barnum. Ron qualified for the National PGA Championship, 3 times, and also qualified for the US Open. In the 1940’s, playing in an exibition at Cadillac Country Club, Ron shot a 63, to win medalist honors against all time greats, Byron Nelson, Chick Harbert, and Marv Stahl.
An outstanding Teacher, Ron has guided the development of many players of all levels, from beginners to outstanding Champions. Most notably, those who competed on Tour. Sharon Miller, Sue Ertl, Randy Erskine, and John Morse are among those who have benefitted from his guidance.
As a mentor, Ron is a Pro’s Pro. He represented the PGA and his beloved Battle Creek Country Club in the most Professional manner, and expected all who were guided by him to do the same. This years fellow Michigan PGA Hall of Fame Nominees, Greg Matthews and Dave Kendall, are among the many who have worked for Ron and benefitted from his example.
Of all of his accomplishments, Ron may be most proud of his contributions to his community. In 1954, Ron was instrumental in starting the Michigan Section VA Tournament. A World War II Veteran himself, Ron organized the VA Championship, that is still contested annually, for the benefit of the patients of the VA Hospital in Battle Creek. He also organized visits by the patients to Battle Creek Country Club, many of whom were very seriously injured in combat. His relationship with his fellow PGA Professionals, and others in the golf business, created the design of a golf course on the grounds of the Hospital and annual contributions of cash, equipment and apparel, at no cost to the patients. Upon retiring, after 35 years as the Head Professional at Battle Ceeek Country Club, Ron started a scholarship fund that has awarded no less than two scholarships a year ever since.
Ray Bolo – Bolo was the head professional at Western Golf and Country Club in the Detroit area for 37 years, teaching the game, building it through junior golf and making time to play at a high level, too. Bolo, retired and living in South Carolina, was a four-time Michigan PGA Seniors champion, scored an international senior professional division win in Scotland’s International Four Ball Tournament in 1983, and was also part of a winning pro-am team in the celebrated AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 1983.
Ben Davis – A graduate of Detroit Northern High School, Ben distinguished himself as a player and instructor at a time few African-Americans were encouraged to participate in golf. His years of devotion to the game and his playing ability made him a role model. Davis was the first black golf professional given membership in the Michigan Section of the PGA and won the 1974 Michigan PGA Seniors title. He began teaching in 1936 at the Pine Crest Driving Range in Ferndale and few golf professionals anywhere have given more lessons than Davis.
Ray Maguire – “From the time I was in knee pants, I knew what I wanted to be and what I was going to be – a golf pro,” said Maguire. His knee pants start was as a 10 year old caddie at Oakland Hills. “They said I was too young and too small initially but I got a job the next year.” Maguire eventually served as an assistant professional at Oakland Hills and then spent three decades as head professional at Birmingham Country Club. Maguire was a quintessential professional, teaching, running tournaments, always on hand. Maguire did not chase the pro circuit but he made national news during the 1949 US Open Qualifying Event at Plum Hollow where he aced the 205-yard fifth hole with a 2-iron shot and then holed out again on the 164-yard 14th with a 4 iron.
Larry Mancour – You’ve heard of sneaky long players. Larry Mancour is sneaky good, quietly winning championships, quietly teaching from juniors on up, quietly beginning and coaching a high school team at Alanson in northern Michigan, quietly designing courses including award-winning Dunmaglas at Charlevoix and Chestnut Valley at Harbor Springs and quietly rescuing the Buick Open.
Mancour came up the old-fashioned way, caddying at 11-years-old and then working five years on the greens crew at Atlas Valley, mowing fairways and greens and raking bunkers. He moved to California after two years at Flint Junior College and worked as the night waterman at Castlewood Country Club so he could practice and play during the day. He turned pro, taught at Golden Gate Fields driving range with Tony Lema, played on the PGA Tour and built nine holes at Lake Tahoe CC where he spent four years as the professional and teacher. He also won the Arizona Open while playing western events and returned to hometown Flint to play the 1967 Buick Open. That hooked him to stay in Michigan. Mancour built and then managed Grand Blanc Golf Club for three years and it was there, with Buick dealer Vern Parsell, he started the Little Buick Open in 1969 after General Motors surprisingly dropped sponsorship of one of golf’s biggest and most popular events. Billy Casper, Julius Boros, Jack Burke, Tony Lema and Tom Weiskopf, winners of 11 major championships, had won the Buick.
Mancour moved from Grand Blanc to the Flint Elks, his home for 20 years, and more local dealers joined him to keep the Buick name alive with the Little Buick Open. “It was funny watching these Tour guys playing next to a cornfield,” Mancour said of his Elks layout. Finally GM’s Goodwrench Division signed on for the Buick-Goodwrench Open in 1977 and it was played and won by South African Bobby Cole at the Flint Elks. Peter Oosterhuis, now a familiar voice on golf telecasts, tied for third. The tournament returned to Warwick Hills in 1978 with Mancour credited for the restoration. For all of his work in his hometown, building courses, staging tournaments and supporting juniors, Mancour was named to the Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame.
As a player Mancour won numerous state tournaments including the Michigan PGA, the Senior PGA and Senior Open. He played in six National PGA Championships, six National PGA Senior Championships and 14 Club Professional Championships. He was twice Michigan Player of the Year and twice Golf Professional of the Year. He won the Quarter Century Championship and the Senior Championship of the PGA Winter Series in Florida. He went to England and finished eighth in the 1992 British Senior Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
For all that, Mancour said one of his proudest achievements was seeing seven of his former “Bag Boys” follow him to become PGA Head Professionals.
Jeff Roth – Jeff Roth has won 15 Michigan PGA sanctioned major championships, which ties him for the all-time lead with Al Watrous. Below is a partial list of Jeff’s accomplishments:
Jeff is the Michigan’s Section PGA leader in career money won and cumulative Player of the Year Points. Jeff has won 25 PGA sanctioned events over his career. As a golf professional beginning in 1979, he has almost 50 victories to his credit. His 54 hole, no bogey 67-65-66 total of 198 in the 2001 Michigan PGA, for a 9 shot victory, stands out as a career highlight. Winning the last point in the 1996 PGA Cup Matches to win the Cup for the United States Team was possibly his greatest golf moment. Jeff won the last 4 holes to come from 2 down with 4 to play for the winning point at Gleneagles in Scotland.
Jack Seltzer – Jack Seltzer watched on television when Arnold Palmer won the 1964 Masters Tournament. “That’s when I took up golf,” Seltzer said.
Seltzer turned 13 a month before and he lived five blocks from the Swartz Creek municipal golf course. The neighborhood kids played golf and took Seltzer to the course.
“They had a range and the kids showed me how to hold the club and swing. I was hooked from Day 1. Growing up in Flint was great. It was said Flint had the biggest junior golf program in the country. If you were under 16 or over 60 you could play for 60 cents all day. I ripped them off, 54 holes a day,” Seltzer said, laughing. “It wasn’t long before I was better than the kids who taught me. I made the varsity at Southwestern High School as a sophomore and won the state championship that year. Eighty guys went out for the team and you had to play.”
“I cut 10 lawns on Saturdays and Sundays, $4 a yard. Forty bucks. I was a millionaire!”
Seltzer won the Flint Junior Golf Association Championship and the Junior College Championship in 1971 and 1972 and turned professional in 1973.
Seltzer’s winning touch got even better as a pro. He won all of the state’s major titles, the PGA, the Match Play and the Open where his ace on the watery ninth hole at the Bear at Grand Traverse Resort became ESPN’s Shot of the Day. It was thanks to a small white deposit by a sea gull at the back of the green.
Usually on the final round the hole was cut toward the front. The cup positions are marked the night before with a white dot. But the person who cut the hole that morning mistook the sea gull’s drop for the dot. Seltzer finished at six-under-par, the first player to break par for the championship on the Bear and the local television station sent it national.
Seltzer’s performance in the final round of the PGA Cup series against Great Britain & Ireland, the club pros’ Ryder Cup, wasn’t as much a crowd pleaser. In the closing singles he met John Chillas at Muirfield, Scotland. Chillas was unbeaten in three team matches. He lived nearby and a crowd of 300 to 400 was at the tee. “We hit our tee shots and I looked back and they were all following us. I hit a 7-iron to 10 feet on the first hole and only one person applauded – my wife, Pam. I made the putt, was 1-up and won 5 and 4,” Seltzer said.
Seltzer has continued to win as a senior but his focus is on teaching. It began at home with his son, John Jr.. Dad has taught 38 high school youngsters who made All-State, one Miss Golf Michigan and 11 Dream Team players. Currently he’s working with the Elite Junior Program at the Kendall Academy in Ypsilanti. “The kids are sponges. It’s great to work with them.”
Rick Smith – In 1996, then Michigan Governor John Engler named Rick Smith Michigan’s ‘Golf Ambassador’. Engler commended Smith, a world renowned, highly respected and multi-talented golf professional, for his passion and commitment to the sport of golf, golf instruction and his constant efforts to promote the game in the state. Sixteen years ago Engler did a great job recognizing Smith’s career achievements and contributions to the game of golf and the state of Michigan. Smith has and is still making an indelible mark in golf in both Michigan and around the world.
As a golf professional and instructor, Smith has risen to become the state’s most acclaimed and nationally recognized figure. In the last 20 years, Golf Digest magazine has regularly ranked Smith among its Top 10 teachers in America. During this time, Golf Digest has consistently ranked Smith top golf instructor in the state. Additionally, Smith has been honored three times by the Michigan PGA Section as its Teacher of the Year.
Rick Smith is recognized as one of the top sounding boards for advice by professional golfers. His students, who have won a combined seven major championships and countless PGA Tour victories have included some of the most celebrated names in golf, such as Phil Mickelson, Lee Janzen, Rocco Mediate, Greg Norman and golfer of the century Jack Nicklaus.
As a course designer, Smith has also garnered national and state honors. His Arcadia Bluffs design resulted in Michigan’s most celebrated public and resort course, ranked by Golf Digest as No. 10 in its America’s ‘Greatest Public Golf Courses for America’ list and No. 1 in Michigan. Smith’s other notable designs are Wuskowhan Players Club, the Oakland University Golf Course and a trio of courses at Treetops Resorts including Threetops that gained fame when Smith hosted a nationally televised prime-time skins event on ESPN.
The affable and always upbeat Smith exudes class and charisma – he has established himself as a national media personality and communicator. From co-hosting the first two seasons of the now iconic Big Break series on the Golf Channel, to his teaching tips series on television and video, to his guest interviews on networks at major championships and PGA Tour events, Rick Smith remains a tireless advocate and ambassador for golf and for the state of Michigan.
Buddy Whitten – Whitten was born in Florida and went to school in Mississippi but after Army duty in Vietnam he worked his way to Michigan and an illustrious career in both state and national golf.
Whitten played 20 years in the Club Professional Championship and won in 1979. He followed that with a 4-1 record in helping the United States to a 15-6 victory over Great Britain & Ireland in the PGA Cup Matches at Oak Tree in Edmond, Ok. Whitten’s CPC victory earned him a year on the PGA Tour and he also qualified and played on the Champions Tour after hitting his 50th birthday.
The Blythefield CC professional was dominant in state golf in the 1970’s and 80’s, earning Player of the Year honors five times from 1977 to 1990. Whitten was a two-time winner of the Michigan Open, and the PGA stroke and match play championships.
Gene Bone – Bone, the former head professional at Bay Pointe Golf Club has been victorious in every event sponsored by the Michigan PGA, including the State Pro-Pro, Pro-Am, and Pro-Assistant. He twice was Michigan Open Champion and Michigan PGA Champion. Bone was named Player of the Year in 1966 and the Golf Professional of the Year in 1976, the first to ever receive both honors in Michigan.
Walter Burkemo – Considered one of the finest match play golfers in history, Burkemo was a three-time finalist in the PGA Championship, winning the title in 1953 and was named to the U.S. Ryder Cup team that year. Burekmo captured the Michigan PGA in 1955 and won the Michigan Open four times.
Jim Dewling – Dewling has spent most of his life in golf from early introduction sweeping floors to twice being elected president of the PGA’s Michigan Section. Dewling learned from two outstanding club professionals, Paul VanLoozen at Edgewood Country Club and Hall of Fame member Ray Maguire at Birmingham Country Club. Edgewood co-owner Ernie Fuller encourage Dewling to enroll in Michigan State University in the hospitality and hotel management curriculum.
Dewling graduated from MSU with a business degree in 1966 and became a PGA member. After seven years at Birmingham Country CLub as an assistant professional, Dewling moved into a field he’s never wavered from – club management. He spent 10 years working for Joe and Steve Slavik at the Great Oaks Country Club in Rochester and from that was the seed of Dewling’s Total Golf Inc. He has owned and/or managed more than 40 properties and co-designed three golf courses.
Randy Erskine – Raised in Battle Creek, Randy came to prominence at the University of Michigan by winning the Big Ten Championship in 1970, and he proceeded to win every major amateur golf tournament in the state including the Amateur, the Michigan Medal Play, and the GAM Championship. After turning professional in 1973, he continued his winning ways in the Michigan PGA, the Michigan Open (5 times), and won Michigan PGA Match Play twice. No one else has won all of these major amateur and professional competitions in Michigan.
Walter Hagen – The Captain of every U.S. Ryder Cup Team from 1927 to 1941, the “Haig” won over 50 titles. He won two U.S. Opens, four British Opens, five PGA Championships, five Western Opens, the French Open, the Canadian Open and the Belgian Open. He was the first professional at Oakland Hills and won the 1921 Michigan Open and Michigan PGA in 1930 and 1931. Considered one of the greatest golfers of all time, Hagen was an original inductee in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Chick Harbert – Known as the longest driver in golf, Harbert was a consistent performer, winning ten PGA Tour events. After twice being a finalist, Chick broke through to win the National PGA Championship in 1954 and was names to two U.S. Ryder Cup Teams. He won five Michigan Open titles (the first as an amateur) and won six Michigan Open PGA Championships. He was named to the PGA Hall of Fame in 1968.
Lynn Janson – The Hastings Country Club Professional won just about everything there is to win in Michigan golf. Lansing native Janson was an All-American at hometown Michigan State University in 1968-70 and won the 1968 Michigan Amateur while in school. After turning professional, Janson went right up the ladder of victories. He won the Assistant Pro Championship in 1974, won four Section championships, three Match Play titles, two Michigan Open and six team championships. He was Player of the Year five times, played in seven National PGA Championships, seven United States Opens and five Buick Opens. Janson also qualified for 12 PGA Club Professional Championships.
Warren Orlick – A Past President of the PGA of America and a member for more than 50 years, Warren was internationally respected as an authority of the Rules of Golf. He was known affectionately as “Mr. Rules”. Orlick served on the Tournament Committees of every major golf tournament for over three decades, including the Masters, the PGA Championship, the US Open, and the Ryder Cup Matches. He was the Head Professional at Tam O’Shanter Country Club in Orchard Lake, for 29 years and was recognized as a mentor to countless aspiring young club professionals.
Horton Smith – While the professional at the Detroit Golf Club, Smith won the 1948 Michigan PGA and 1954 Michigan Open. He served as President of both the National PGA and PGA Seniors. Horton was named to seven U.S. Ryder Cup Teams, and twice was the leading money winner on the PGA Tour. He won 33 professional tournaments in his career including the 1934 and 1936 Masters, along with the 1927 French Open.
John Traub – John Traub made an impressive start in golf, becoming a PGA Member in 1977 and then being named Head Professional at Great Oaks Country Club in 1978. In 1980 he rallied from seventh place to fire a final round 3-under-par 69 and win the National Club Professional Championship. That prestigious title earned Traub a spot in the PGA Cup against Great Britain & Ireland, and a year on the PGA Tour.
In Michigan, the long-drive Traub won the PGA Championship in 1984 and, as a senior, twice won the Michigan PGA Match Play Championship. He won the Michigan PGA Senior, two Pro-Pro, two Senior-Juniors and two Pro-Assistant titles as well. Head Professional at Detroit Golf Club from 1991-2001, Traub later became widely known for his teaching expertise.
Al Watrous – The most titled golfer in Michigan history, Al was winner of six Michigan Opens, nine Michigan PGA Championships, five Michigan PGA Seniors, and three Michigan Pro-Ams. Watrous won the 1922 Canadian Open, played in the 1927 and 1929 U.S. Ryder Cup Teams, won the National PGA Senior Championship in 1950, 1951, and 1957, and won the PGA Quarter Century and the World Senior in 1957. He was Head Professional at Oakland Hills Country Club for 37 years.
Mark Wilson – Mark Wilson celebrated his 25th year as head professional at Watermark Country Club in Grand Rapids in 2006. He has made a reputation as a Rules of Golf official in Michigan second only to the late Mr. Rules, Warren Orlick, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991.
Wilson is chairman of the PGA of America Rules Committee. He has been a rules official at every PGA Championship since 1990, a referee at the last five Ryder Cups, officiated at 11 Masters Tournaments, three British Opens, two United State Opens and one PGA Tours Players Championship. He was Chief Referee at the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Country Club in Kentucky.