100 YEARS: Seven-time Champion Patti Shook Boice ApplaudsPioneers of Women’s Golf
Written By: Greg Johnson
Pictured – Patti Shook Boice, right, is proclaimed champion by her opponent, Joyce Kazmierski, following the 1964 Women’s Collegiate Golf Championship at Forest Akers in East Lansing. They were rivals at the state and national levels.
100 Years, A GAM Special Series: This is the sixth of 10 stories leading up to the 100th Michigan Women’s Amateur, Aug. 8-12, at Spring Meadows Country Club in Linden.
It was 1960 and Patti Shook, who later became Patti Shook Boice, was finally 16, the age where she would be allowed to play in what has become the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship.
It was being held that year at Flint Golf Club where her father Lorin Shook had previously been the head PGA golf professional.
“I had played in the Western Junior and the (U.S.) Junior (Amateur), but this was the first time in our state tournament and I was so excited,” Shook Boice, now 73 and living in Spring Lake, said. “My father had been the pro there. I remembered swimming in the pool when I was very young. I knew all the names of the best players in the state. There really were not many other tournaments to play in for girls or women, and I couldn’t wait. That was special.”
She remembers losing in match play, and Susie LeClair winning the championship, and she remembers the Michigan Women’s Amateur being a must-play tournament on her schedule until significant degenerative back problems forced her to quit playing the game in the late 1980s.
Before she was done playing in the state championship though, she had amassed the most wins by any one golfer, seven between 1967 and 1979, the most runner-up finishes by any one golfer, six (1963, ’65, ’66, ’80, ’81), and what is believed to be the most times as medalist in the stroke play qualifying, six.
“My parents never pressed me to play golf,” she said. “It was what I wanted to do, and they supported me. I laugh, because nowadays the golfers have their swing coach, and then they have their psychologists, trainers and nutritionists, and I had just my Dad who was only interested in my golf swing, and everything else wrapped up in my Mom (Gertrude). She never said a negative word. She always told me I was doing my best.”
Shook Boice went to Valparaiso University in Indiana, which didn’t have a women’s golf team, but as a senior in 1964 she represented the school in what was called the Women’s Collegiate Golf Championship. Ironically, it was held in Michigan that year at Forest Akers on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, and she held off an MSU student, Joyce Kazmierski of Grosse Ile, 2 and 1 in a 36-hole match final.
It was Kazmierski who beat her in the 1966 Michigan Women’s Amateur at Farmington Golf Club, the 50th anniversary tournament of the championship. Kazmierski, a two-time champion in the state championship, went on to a distinguished LPGA career, and is in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame with Shook Boice.
“We didn’t have golf teams growing up, so if you were of any caliber of golf at a higher level, your choice was national tournaments mostly,” Shook Boice said. “That’s where I met all these other girls my age in the tournaments, and it was so much fun to meet them and compete with them. I remember Mrs. Lovell (Margaret, who is also in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame), who was on the board of many of the big national tournaments, taking Nancy Way and I, just two teenagers from Michigan, in her big convertible to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to play in the national (U.S. Junior).”
Shook Boice applauds Lovell, and all the women she calls pioneers of Michigan golf from the Michigan Women’s Golf Association.
“These pioneers of women’s golf did some amazing things in that time in just getting us on the best golf courses in Michigan, the best private clubs like Flint, Red Run, Washtenaw, Jackson, Knollwood, Farmington. They convinced the boards of these clubs, which you know at that time, had to be all men, to support women’s golf by having the state championship on their course. When it was played on a great course, it was incentive for me to practice more. It helped women’s golf grow and I’m so grateful to those who started this championship and carried it on. It’s lasted 100 years. That’s so wonderful.”
Last summer, the 99th Michigan Women’s Amateur was presented at Spring Lake Country Club, a leader in women’s golf in the state and where Shook Boice is a long-time member with her husband Bill Boice and still gathers to play cards with friends. She was the honorary chairperson of the tournament, made a speech at a special dinner early in the week and came out with her friend and former West Michigan golf foe, Carolee Zoerhoff of Grand Rapids, to watch.
She had commented to the GAM’s Michigan Links magazine before the tournament that she thought the Spring Lake course would make the players use all their clubs. She was amazed when she watched the action, however.
“The girls of today hit the ball so far, and so well, I think they mostly used driver and wedge,” she said. “The talent level is so great. The swings are so good. It made me feel so good about women’s golf to watch them. They have teams now starting young, in high school, in college, and I hope they know they owe it to the same women I owed my golf career to – those pioneers who started it and the great women who kept it going.”