BATH, MI (June 2, 2008) – The Michigan Open is moving. The 2009 and 2010 Michigan Opens, conducted by the Michigan Section of the PGA will be played at historic Orchard Lake Country Club in Orchard Lake, Michigan.
One of Michigan’s longest running events; the Michigan Open began in 1916 and was won by Leo Diegel who also played in the inaugural Ryder Cup Match and Masters.
In recent years, The Michigan Open has been synonymous with Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme, Michigan. The Resort has hosted the event for the past 27 years and watched it’s prize purse and prestige grow along with the northern Michigan golf boom of the 1980’s and 90’s. The tournament has been played on the The Bear, a Jack Nicklaus designed course since 1985. An expanded field allowed the use of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa’s, Wolverine Course, designed by Gary Player, the past two years.
“I’ve seen the past 20 of the 28 years Grand Traverse Resort and Spa has been host to the Michigan Open, and it has been a wonderful experience” said Tom McGee, the resort’s Director of Golf Operations. “We’ve seen many changes through the years and have watched the Michigan Open grow into what has become a multi-course four-day event. The Resort’s staff has always been very proud to host this event and showcase our incredible courses, conditions and service to the very best players in Michigan. We’ve enjoyed working with the Michigan PGA, the devoted volunteer corps, the media and everyone else involved with this golf championship. I am confident the Michigan Open will continue to be a successful event and we wish the Michigan PGA and all future sites the very best.”
“The Michigan PGA is excited to announce that it has reached an agreement with Orchard Lake Country Club to host the 2009 and 2010 Michigan Open Championships presented by Lincoln Mercury,” Michigan PGA Executive Director Kevin Helm said. Orchard Lake CC hosted the Michigan Open in 1944. That event was won by Sam Byrd, a PGA Tour player who also played professional baseball for the New York Yankees.
Helm added, “This move will certainly make it more convenient for a large number of Professionals and amateurs to participate. “The Detroit area provides a greater number of players the opportunity to play more affordably and to be closer to home and work. These elements along with an outstanding golf course should really generate a lot of interest and excitement for the Michigan Open.”
Golfers will face an entirely different golf course than what they’ve tried to conquer on The Bear. Orchard Lake CC is a classic golf course designed by the famous British Architectural firm of Colt and Alison and opened in 1927. Colt was also involved in other classics including The Country Club of Detroit and Pine Valley in Philadelphia, PA to name just a few.
“The players won’t find many flat spots that’s for sure,” said Brian Dice, Head Professional at Orchard Lake CC. “The course covers rolling terrain and we are continually complimented on having PGA Tour quality greens.” The course will play close to 7,000 yards and Dice said most players will need to play every club in their bag.
The move is bittersweet for the Michigan PGA. “As excited as we are about this site change for ’09 and ’10, we owe a big thank-you to Grand Traverse Resort and Spa for all they have done to for this great championship. So many factors have contributed to the storied history of the Michigan Open and perhaps none is more significant than the past 28-years at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. ”
Historically, some of golf’s most famous names won The Michigan Open. Walter Hagen, the father of modern professional golf and captain of the first 5 Ryder Cup teams along with being the first professional at Oakland Hills CC won the event in 1921. Al Watraus, another regular at the Masters and two-time Ryder Cup member won five Michigan Opens. Chick Harbert, the 1954 PGA Champion and two-time Ryder Cup Team Member won four Michigan Open titles as did Walter Burkemo, a World War II hero who won his first Michigan Open in 1951 and fourth title in 1970. John Barnum won three titles and is best known for also winning five Michigan PGA Senior titles.
Legendary Michigan amateur player, Chuck Kocsis, who played on three Walker Cup teams, also won three titles. Other future PGA Tour Players to win the James Standish Trophy include Dave Hill a 13 time tour winner and Vardon Cup winner and Horton Smith who won the inaugural Masters, 32 PGA tour events, the Vardon Cup and played on five Ryder Cup Teams, Ed Humenik, and Tom Gillis were also former winners and PGA journeymen. Other multiple winners including Jake Fassezke a Hagen contemporary who played in nine US Opens, Marvin Stahl, Lynn Janson, Randy Erskine, Buddy Whitten, Steve Brady and J. R. Roth.
The player who conquered The Bear is six-time winner Scott Hebert who in 2006 became Head Professional at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. All six of his victories were on The Bear. (His 2006 victory included one round on The Wolverine at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.)
For more information, please visit www.michigan.pga.com.
Kevin Helm-Michigan PGA Executive Director
Resort & Golf Marketing
279 Pray Rd. | Gaylord, MI 49735
Cell/Office: 989-614-0241 | Fax: 989-688-5959