1. Jack Nicklaus, the legend, was the special guest for the GAM Centennial Celebration and GAM Foundation fundraiser at Oakland Hills Country Club in June. The event was presented on Monday of the Michigan Amateur week, which Oakland Hills hosted Tuesday through Saturday on the North Course. Nicklaus asked to go visit with the golfers practicing for the championship and visited with several groups of players on the course and in the practice areas. It thrilled the competitors. Ben Smith of Novi, the eventual winner, was part of a group that met with the champion. He later called it a highlight of an incredible week. “To meet Jack Nicklaus – that was incredible,” he said.
2. Elayna Bowser of Dearborn won the Michigan Women’s Amateur in her last amateur tournament. Bowser battled through the week at Spring Lake Country Club and then had to play Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll of Haslett, the Michigan State women’s golf coach who also happens to be the winningest golfer in GAM history. Bowser won 4 and 3 and said a persistent butterfly that swirled around her and her caddie/father Brett as she lined up to putt on No. 14 in the title match made her think of her late mother Karen, who passed away when she was 14-years-old in the summer of 2011 from Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). “Did you see that butterfly? I was like, wait, I have a putt to win the match and this butterfly won’t go away,” she said. “I started thinking it’s a sign. I mean I knew she was definitely there watching every hole this week. It felt good, knowing that.”
3. Traverse City’s Anika Dy, just 17 but a veteran and winner of many GAM tournaments, had home-course advantage and more importantly a sizzling putter on the back nine and beat pros and amateurs alike in winning the 26th Michigan PGA Open Championship at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville. A Crystal Mountain cart lot attendant who grew up playing the Mountain Ridge Course , Dy shot a final 4-under 68 with a 4-under 32 on the back nine to win. She was just the second amateur to win the open championship that draws professionals and amateurs from across the country, and she was the youngest to ever win. Dy, a three-time Division 1 high school state champion and Michigan’s unprecedented three-time Miss Golf, is now at the University of Michigan and playing on the women’s golf team.
4. Muskegon’s Mitchell White didn’t play a lot of golf in the summer of 2019. He had an internship with a digital marketing firm in Muskegon setting up his closing studies at Grand Valley State University and working for a fifth consecutive summer on the bag room staff at Muskegon Country Club. “I didn’t plan on winning this,” he said after shooting a closing 5-under 67 to win the 98th GAM Championship at the club where he works. “It was surreal how everything lined up for me,” he said. “I had only played in two tournaments. I didn’t think it could happen, but I played my practice round and it was like – I have some things going here.” White, who has used up his golf eligibility at Grand Valley, won the GAM Championship for a second time.
5. Michigan State golfer Yurika Tanida led the Public Team to a win over the Private Team in the 28th Women’s Atlas Trophy Matches at Gull Lake View Golf Club and Resort’s Stoatin Brea course, and she did it by setting a record. Tanida, a sophomore at MSU, topped Oakland University golfer Veronica Haque of the Private Team 7 and 6. She shot a 6-under 30 on the front nine in building her lead, and then after the match was over at No. 12 she played on to see if she could set a course record. She did, shooting 8-under 63. The previous best score by a woman on the two-year-old course was a 3-under 68. The native of Japan’s previous personal best was a 67. “I made a lot of friends, and today my short game was on and I was feeling good,” she said. “No bogeys, and I made a lot of 6-foot to 10-foot putts.”