Golf News

Michigan region loses last major golf tournament

Michigan region loses last major golf tournament

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — When the final putt dropped in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at the Golf Club of Harbor Shores on May 26 — ironically, the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and won by England’s Richard Bland — there might have been a few tears running down cheeks of golfers and golf fans in the Michigan and Indiana region known as Michiana.

You can count mine among them. Tears are already welling in my eyes as I write.

On and off since 1963 — with some breaks in between — driving any compass point in Michiana into southwestern Michigan’s glorious fruit belt to watch this grand game has been a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

Watching future greats play in the Western Amateur at Point O’Woods Golf & Country Club near Millburg and then seeing many of them return many years later to compete in the Senior PGA at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor — two great courses in Berrien County separated by a little under eight miles — have provided wonderful bookends to almost a half-century of golf memories.

It doesn’t matter whether the trip lasted 42 miles from South Bend via M-140 and then down Territorial Road into Millburg and a short jaunt north up Roslin Road to Point O’Woods, the tree-lined design of noted architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. that was home to 41 Western Amateur championships, 38 in a row beginning in 1971.

The same is also true of the 40-mile drive from South Bend via the St. Joseph Valley Parkway (U.S. 31) through acres and acres of farmlands to Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor. Situated on reclaimed Whirlpool Corporation properties through which the Paw Paw River meanders and with three holes built along the dunes of Lake Michigan, this Jack Nicklaus design hosted its sixth and final Senior PGA May 23-26. Whirlpool, parent of Kitchenaid, announced they would not continue their sponsorship of the event.

Now, our future golfing springs and summers will never be the same. To paraphrase “Caddyshack” greenskeeper Carl Spackler (actor Bill Murray): “Au Revoir, Golfers.”

My first visit to Point O’Woods occurred during the “Sweet Sixteen” weekend of the 1975 tournament when another assigned staffer at the Niles Daily Star could not work. The winner was the late Andy Bean, a 6-foot-4 recent Florida graduate who, we all learned, once bit the cover off a golf ball after three-putting during a college match against Jay Haas.

Bean, who beat Randy Simmons 1 up for the Western title, enjoyed a memorable PGA…


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