GROSSE POINTE FARMS – The Country Club of Detroit is hosting and five Michigan golfers are playing in the 66th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship that starts Saturday, Aug.28, and continues through Thursday, Sept. 2.
Golf fans are welcome at no charge for the championship which will include Michigan golfers Chris Chocola of Harbor Springs, Tom (Walter) Gieselman of Commerce Township, Jerry Gunthorpe of Ovid, Rick Herpich of Orchard Lake, and Mark Eriksen of Clarkston.
The global pandemic and a Tennessee tornado in April 2020 resulted in the 66th U.S. Senior Amateur being played at the Country Club of Detroit a year later than originally planned. The Grosse Pointe Farms classic golf course and original Golf Association of Michigan member was slated to host the Senior Amateur a year ago, but the 2020 championship was canceled in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Disappointment in Detroit was quelled, however, when the previously announced 2021 site for the championship – The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn. – suffered significant tornado damage last April and notified the United States Golf Association that it would not be fully recovered in time to host the national championship.
The USGA made changes: The 2021 championship is at Country Club of Detroit, and The Honors Course will host the 2024 championship, which will be the 69th edition of the championship.
The Senior Amateur has been held in Michigan twice previously; in 1984 at Birmingham Country Club where Robert Rawlins won, and in 1991 at Crystal Downs Country Club in Frankfort where Bill Bosshard won.
“The Country Club of Detroit is excited to continue our long tradition of supporting amateur golf by proudly hosting the 2021 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship,” said George J. Baer III, club president.
“As the location where Arnold Palmer launched his historic career by winning the 1954 U.S. Amateur, the Country Club of Detroit holds a unique place in golf history, and we look forward to continuing this great tradition.”
The five Michigan golfers earned their spots in the starting field of 156 players 55-years-old or older through qualifiers held at 49 sites across the country in July and August. Chocola, Gieselman, Herpich and Gunthorpe qualified at Oakland Hills Country Club (North course), and Eriksen got in as an alternate from Oakland Hills. They were part of a record 2,565 entries, which eclipsed the previous record of 2,498 set in 2005.
Country Club of Detroit, which has hosted the Michigan Amateur Championship six times including the 2018 Michigan Amateur Championship won by Beau Breault, was founded in 1897 and is located 14 miles northeast of downtown Detroit.
It was designed by British golf architects Harry Colt and Charles Hugh Alison and most recently restored by Michigan-based architect Tom Doak in 2011.
In addition to Palmer’s victory that he called the turning point in his golf career and propelled him to a storied career that included seven major professional titles, the U.S. Amateur was also contested at CC of Detroit in 1915. Robert A. Gardner claimed the second of his two championships.
The U.S. Senior Amateur was first played in 1955. Greg Reynolds of Grand Blanc, and Tom Draper of Royal Oak, two members of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, are among the past champions of the U.S. Senior Amateur. Reynolds won in 2002 and was runner-up in 2004, and Draper won in 1971.
In the most recent Senior Amateur played in 2019, Bob Royak, of Alpharetta, Ga., holed a 5-foot par putt on the 18th hole to defeat Roger Newsom, 1 up, in the final match at Old Chatham Golf Club in Durham, N.C.
The field will play 36 holes of stroke play Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 28, 29). The low 64 scorers will qualify for match play which starts with the round of 64 on Monday (Aug. 30). The rounds of 32 and 16 are scheduled for Tuesday (Aug. 31), the quarterfinals and semifinals for Wednesday (Sept. 1) and the 18-hole championship match for Thursday (Sept. 2).