Pictured: GAM volunteer Marvin Piccard uses laser technology
to measure at Indian Trails Golf Course.
GRAND RAPIDS – Mark
Bultema of Cedar Springs, Brian VanGeest of Grand Rapids and Marvin Piccard of
Sparta, Golf Association of Michigan volunteers specializing in golf course
measuring and rating, braved cold spring winds to do their duty recently at
Indian Trails Golf Course.
Indian Trails has
been renovated as part of a project that changed the golf course significantly
and added a state-of-the-art learning center.
The GAM volunteers and a group of golf course
regulars who volunteered bundled up on a windy day and did the first phase of a
process to measure the renovated layout.
It wasn’t just
another measuring day though for Bultema, who has been course rating for the
GAM for 20 years, VanGeest, who has been a volunteer for eight years, and
Piccard, who has been involved for five years.
Indian Trails, an 89-year-old
city-owned public daily fee course, was a homecoming for the three Grand Rapids
“For each of us
Indian Trails was the first golf course each of us played our first paid round
on,” Bultema said. “We realized that when we started planning to do this.”
VanGeest used to
ride his bike from his boyhood home.
“Hey, when we were
kids and for a long time this was the place where you went to learn to play
golf if you lived in Grand Rapids,” he said.
Piccard said he was
pleased to be part of the measurement crew for the “new” Indian Trails.
“A lot of history here for us, and a lot of
golfers in Grand Rapids,” he said.
Bultema said it was
great to see the site adapting to serve the golf community.
“I know this place
means a lot to Grand Rapids golf,” he said. “A lot of new golfers are yet to
come with the changes they have made.”
The $2.76 million project
involved the creation of five new holes and renovation of two existing holes
into an approximately 5,500-yard 18-hole course minus any par 5 holes, as well
as the new practice center with five practice greens and three bunker
course architect Chris Wilczynski did the design work on the 90-acre site.
Lance Climie, the
general manager, believes the course will continue to produce golfers who play
their first paid round just like it did with the three GAM volunteers.
“We will have an
association with the First Tee Chapter of West Michigan, which we think is a
natural, and all the Grand Rapids Recreation Department golf programs will be
here now,” Climie said. “The Grand Rapids Public Schools have committed
transportation expenses to bring students here, too, as part of their programs.”
Climie also expects
to join the Golf Association of Michigan Foundation’s Kids On Course
initiative, in which the host courses are subsidized the remainder of green
fees when they charge youth golfers just $5 to play.
“We never had the
facilities to be a teaching facility, and we are adding two PGA teaching
professionals to the staff for that,” he said. “Plus, the redesign is very nice
and the golfers who play here on a regular basis are going to really like it.
We have a great superintendent in Craig Kooienga, who makes sure the greens
stay great, and we will certainly benefit from being involved with the Golf
Association of Michigan and pass those things on to our golfers.”
Climie, who has a
long history in golf management including at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc,
former home of the Buick Open, said watching the GAM measure the course was a
new experience for him.
“It was very
interesting,” he said. “You see the science that goes into it.”
The GAM is licensed
by the United States Golf Association to measure and rate courses in the state
in accordance with the USGA Course Rating System. Indian Hills, like all
others, was measured with laser technology to ensure accuracy, and course
obstacles were assessed relative to USGA standards. After a second day of work
later in March the course will have official USGA Course & Slope Ratings
from each of three tee positions, which then make it possible for golfers to
determine their GAM/USGA Handicap Index for the course.
The GAM, founded in
1919, is the governing body for amateur golf in the state. Measuring and Rating
courses for various reasons is just one of the many services performed by GAM
volunteers and staff.