Link to championship page: Atlas Matches
ONAWAY – Black Lake Golf Club, which award-winning golf course architect Rees Jones designed for the UAW Black Lake Conference Center in 2000, will host many of the state’s top amateur golfers on teams from the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) and Michigan Publinx Golf Association (MPGA) squaring off in the 70th Atlas Trophy Matches Saturday and Sunday.
The two 12-man teams will square off in the historic series in four-ball (best-ball), foursomes (alternate shot) and singles matches to determine the winner of the Atlas Trophy.
Black Lake, 18 miles off northbound I-75 at the top of Michigan’s lower peninsula, is one of the 15 golf courses that are part of the Gaylord Golf Mecca cooperative marketing group and a classic design with imaginative bunkering, top-notch conditioning and a get-away-from-it-all feel on each isolated hole. It is less than an hour drive from Gaylord and less than an hour drive from the Mackinac Bridge.
The course has appeared multiple times on Golf Digest’s “100 Greatest Public Courses in America” list and is annually listed among the “Best Courses to Play in Michigan” by various publications. The course is designed to provide a challenge for golfers of all skill levels. Five sets of tee markers are part of most holes. The course plays from 5,058 to 7,030 yards.
“The holes were here, we just had to find them,” Jones said after the course opened in 2000. “We strive for holes blending with the natural terrain. There is nothing artificial or contrived at Black Lake. We were trying to build an old-style, course. You’ll notice we don’t have mounds or moguls. We just have sweeps and natural grades.”
The condition of the course is a point of pride for the UAW, and complementing the big course is The Little Course, a nine-hole par 3 meant to introduce young people to the game as well as sharpen veteran players’ short games. New tee mats were added last year on that facility.
Black Lake also has a practice area with a 350-yard double sided bentgrass tee range, four practice bunkers and four chipping and putting greens, a clubhouse with dining room and lounge, and men’s and women’s locker rooms.
The nearby UAW Conference Center with its many lodging options has been open to the public for the last few years and has been remodeled to include new beds, flat screen televisions and more.
Nick Aune is the general manager, Mike Pearson the head golf professional and Chris Elwell is the superintendent. Learn more about Black Lake at blacklakegolf.com or via gaylordgolfmecca.com.
The GAM Team will look to retain the cup from its 16-8 win over the MPGA Team in 2017 at Oakland University’s R&S Sharf Golf Course. The MPGA held the cup at that time after its 13 ½ - 10 ½ win from 2015 at TPC of Michigan in Dearborn.
The GAM holds a 46-20-3 lead all-time in the series of matches that originated in 1938 as a competition between private club golfers represented by the GAM and public course golfers represented by the MPGA with the trophy honoring Edward Atlas, who then was a GAM Governor as well as a USGA Public Links Committee member and Detroit area public golf official.
Prior to 2010, the competition was conducted annually except for World War II years, and historically, private club players competed against public course players. Beginning in 2011, however, it became a biennial competition between GAM member golfers regardless of their course or club affiliation and members of the MPGA.
The GAM and MPGA each select a captain, who then selects 12 team members by using GAM Honor Roll points, MPGA Honor Roll points and other criteria. The golf is complimentary for the players with the event designed to honor those chosen for the teams.
The GAM is represented this year by Adam Anderson, Michael Anderson, Will Anderson, Jimmy Dales, Peter Farner, Jerry Gunthorpe, Nick Gunthorpe, Cameron Nelson, Shawn Shera, Scott Sparks, Justin Sui and Andrew Tindall.
The MPGA is represented this year by Robert Bedder, Razmig Boghikian, Gavin Depauw, Sean Friel, Scott Jaschuk, Austin Kreger, Ian Martin, Nikolas Senkowski, Andrew Smith, Larry Sterling Jr., Tony Vrana and John Wallace.
Foursomes matches will be played Saturday morning with four-ball matches to follow in the afternoon. Individual matches are played on Sunday. One point is awarded per match with ½ point being given to each team for a halved match. If tied at the end of the competition, the team currently holding the trophy retains it.