Golf: Champs tee it up at Boyne Mountain
Lee Houtteman (left) of the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa in Acme is presented the Walter Burkemo Trophy by Stephen Kircher, president of Boyne's Eastern Operations, after Houtteman won the Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain last year. The annual tournament begins Monday, July 30, at Boyne Mountain. (News-Review file photo / July 26, 2012)
The 21st annual Tournament of Champions begins Monday, July 30, at Boyne Mountain's Alpine Course as many former champions including defending champion Lee Houtteman of Grand Traverse Resort will play for a purse of $50,000.
The winner also takes home the Walter Burkemo Trophy, the traditional green jacket and an honorary lifetime membership to Country Club of Boyne. The event uses different strategic tee positions to allow the elite field of men, women, juniors and seniors to compete for one title.
The 54-hole event is scheduled to conclude on Wednesday, Aug. 1.
Houtteman, 51, defeated Andrew Ruthkoski of Muskegon and Jeff Cuzzort of Grosse Ile in a playoff last year, becoming just the third senior to capture the prestigious title.
A teaching professional at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, Houtteman stuck a gap wedge from 87 yards to within a foot of the hole then tapped in for birdie to win in 2011. Ruthkoski and Cuzzort missed their potential tieing birdie putts.
The rest of the tee sheet at the tournament reads like a Michigan golf history or hall of fame list.
Among the other former T of C winners in the field are six-time Michigan Open champion Scott Hebert of Grand Traverse Resort (2009), Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member and Champions Tour player JR Roth (2008, 1999, 1996, 1995), former Champions Tour player Agim Bardha of Birmingham (1994), two-time Michigan PGA Player of the Year Tom Harding of Kendall Academy of Golf in Ypsilanti (1997) and Mike Erickson, the head golf professional at Bloomfield Hills Country Club, who won the Tournament of Champions in 1993.
Other notable players in the field include recent Michigan Senior Open champion Ron Buermann of the Country Club of Jackson, who also played in the Senior PGA Championship earlier this summer; 2011 Michigan Open champion Randy Hutchison of Traverse City, who finished in a tie for 45th in the PGA Tour's recent John Deere Classic; Bill Mory of Meridian Sun Golf Club in Haslett, who recently played in the U.S. Senior Open; Brian Cairns of Fox Hills Learning Center in Plymouth, who later this summer will play in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, S.C.; and former Michigan State golfer Natalie Brehm of Mount Pleasant, the 2010 Michigan Amateur champion.
Area players in the field include Brian O'Neill of Boyne Resorts, Kyle Roman of Hidden River Golf & Casting Club, Larry Mancour of Oden and a recent Michigan Golf Hall of Fame inductee, and Barry Redmond of the Boyne Golf Academy.
The equalizer for the diverse field is three sets of tees on the Alpine. The forward tees play to 5,900 yards and are used by men ages 70-over and all women. The middle tees measure to 6,500 yards and are played by men 50-over and any male with high school eligibility remaining. The back tees are used by all men ages 49-under and measure to 6,900 yards.
Play begins at 8 a.m. Monday, July 30, and the final tee time of the day is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. The field will be cut to the low 70 and ties after Tuesday's second round.
A tie for first place will be decided as it was last year by a sudden death playoff immediately following the completion of the final round.
Tee times and a live leaderboard for the tournament will be made available at www.michiganpgagolf.com.