BIG RAPIDS – The Michigan Golf Hall of Fame (MGHOF) has presented just three Special Awards in its history, and the fourth will be presented in June to the Golf Association of Michigan.
“The GAM is celebrating its centennial in 2019, and it’s dedicated service to golf and golfers in Michigan over those years has been outstanding and deserves both celebration and our Special Award,” Greg Johnson, chairman of the MGHOF said.
“Our board voted unanimously to honor the GAM as part of our induction ceremonies this year. Previously, Special Awards have been presented to the Buick Open (PGA Tour event) for its history, the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation for its fundraising impact and Oakland Hills Country Club in recognition of its centennial year. The GAM stands with those organizations who have made major impacts in Michigan golf.”
The award will be presented on Sunday, June 2, at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Club, home of the new Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center which will soon house the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.
The GAM will share the stage with the 2019 Hall of Fame class of four, which will bring the number of inductees to 127.
The class includes the late George Bayer, a former Detroit Golf Club head professional and PGA Tour player, Ron Beurmann, head professional at Country Club of Jackson, Bernie Friedrich, senior vice-president of golf operations and resort sales for Boyne Resorts, and Al Mengert, a former Oakland Hills Country Club head professional.
The GAM was founded in May of 1919 when 28 men representing 14 golf clubs attended an organizational meeting at Detroit Golf Club and formed the Detroit District Golf Association, the forerunner to the GAM. The association currently serves 60,000 female and male golfers and 470 golf clubs in Michigan.
GAM services include providing member golfers with the GAM/USGA Handicap Index system via the United State Golf Association’s GHIN System, the USGA Course and Slope ratings for courses in Michigan, a broad tournament structure that serves golfers of various capabilities and ages in tournaments and state championships, USGA national championship qualifying opportunities as well as popular playing opportunities on exclusive golf courses via GAM Golf Days, administration and education in the Rules of Golf, connection to the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation and Michigan State University extension services, special member benefits and discounts like Swing & Save, golf travel opportunities and the GAM Foundation that presents charitable work and funding via Youth on Course.
As for the inductees on June 2, Bayer, who died in 2003 in California at the age of 77, was once one of golf’s longest drivers and won four times on the PGA Tour between 1957 and 1960. He was the head golf professional at Detroit Golf Club for 12 years (1972-1983). Prior to becoming a golf professional at age 29, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Bayer was an All-American college football tackle and end for the University of Washington and was drafted and played briefly in the NFL. The native of Bremerton, Wash., was also a veteran of the U.S. Navy. While working at Detroit Golf Club he was the winner of the 1973 Michigan Open Championship.
Beurmann, 58, has been the head professional at CC of Jackson for 26 years, and one of the Michigan PGA Section’s top golfers. He won the Michigan PGA Professional Championship in 2010, and the Michigan PGA Match Play Championship in 1998, and has also won a Michigan PGA Senior Championship (2013) and two Michigan Senior Open Championship titles in (2012, ’13). He was the Michigan PGA Player of the Year in 2004, the Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 2014 and twice has been the Michigan PGA Merchandiser of the Year (1998, 2008). He has also mentored caddies, including 25 who became Evans Scholars.
Friedrich, 66, has worked for Boyne Resorts for 44 years and currently oversees a staff of over 200 employees in agronomy, course and golf shop operations for 12 golf courses, including 10 at three resorts in Michigan and one course each at resorts in Maine and Montana. He is a two-time Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year (1998, 2001), a four-time Michigan PGA Resort Merchandizer of the Year and has served in various capacities with The First Tee of Northern Michigan, the Michigan Golf Course Association and the Michigan PGA Section. He is also co-founder and a leader of the annual Harbor Cup golf event, which has raised over $400,000 for charitable food projects in Northern Michigan.
Mengert, 89 and a resident of Carefree, Ariz., was a club professional who also played on the PGA Tour. He worked at many notable clubs, including Oakland Hills Country Club as head professional from 1976 to ’86. He won the 1976 and 1980 Michigan PGA Professional Championships, three Michigan Senior PGA Professional titles (1980, ’83, ‘86) and two Michigan Senior Open titles (’83 and ’85) as well as several other PGA section titles from around the country. He was a top-ranked amateur when he lost in the final match of the 1952 U.S. Amateur to Jack Westland. He worked as a club professional for steady income, yet played in 27 Grand Slam major championships, including nine U.S Opens and eight Masters Tournaments. he U.S. Air Force veteran was also the host professional at Oakland Hills for the 1979 PGA Championship, the 1981 U.S. Senior Open and the 1985 U.S. Open.
The MGHOF is a heralded collection of portraits, plaques and memorabilia that currently commemorates 123 members, including Walter Hagen, Chuck Kocsis, Horton Smith and more current notables Dave and Mike Hill, Dan Pohl, Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins. The collection will soon be housed and displayed in the new Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center at Ferris State University’s Katke facility. The late Ken Janke Sr. is co-founder and a member of the MGHOF.
The MGHOF is administered by the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Committee, which is funded through the non-profit Michigan Golf Foundation (501(c) (3) since 1996) and includes 18 people representing a cross-section of the state’s golf associations as well as golf media. The MGHOF committee conducts an annual election to recognize the achievements of competitive Michigan golfers, but also accomplishments of individuals who have contributed to the growth of the game.