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Michigan Golf Hall of Fame to Induct Four New Members
Rick Smith, Larry Mancour and Jack Seltzer, all PGA professionals, and Grand Rapids senior amateur Jack Van Ess, who vowed to his parents that he never would play on Sunday, will be inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame on May 20, 2012, at Michigan State's University Club.
The Michigan Golf Foundation will also present a special award to MIchigan State University's Turf Team from the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences for its outstanding work in improving the quality of golf course turf statewide and internationally.
The multi-talented Smith worked as an assistant professional in Lakeland, Fla., and taught collegian Lee Janzen, who went on to win two U.S. Open titles, and also taught PGA Tour players Rocco Mediate and Billy Andrade. A good player himself, but more interested in teaching, Smith, 54, has worked with Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, Jack's son Gary, Matt Kuchar and John Daly.
Smith returned to his native Michigan in 1986. As the new golf director at Sylvan (now Treetops) Resort in Gaylord and, after overseeing the opening of its Robert Trent Jones course, Smith talked owner Harry Melling into hiring Tom Fazio to do a second course. Then Melling gave Smith the go-ahead to build a unique par-3 layout. It became Threetops, the site of the Par 3 Shootout on ESPN that featured the greatest players in the game, including Lee Trevino, who made a $1 million ace in 2007.
With those successes Melling, who joked he'd end up having a course for every day of the week, had Smith design two 18-hole courses and Treetops became a nationally recognized resort. Smith furthered that along by developing and hosting Golf Channel's Big Break golf show. His work at Arcadia Bluffs was also widely hailed.
Flint native Mancour, 77, is also multitalented. He taught with Tony Lema at Golden Gate Fields driving range in California, built the second nine holes at Lake Tahoe Country Club, won the Arizona Open and played the PGA Tour.
Mancour returned to Michigan to play in the Buick Open. He stayed, and built Grand Blanc Golf Club, then added nine holes at the Flint Elks where he was the professional for 20 years. He rescued the Buick Open when General Motors dropped the tournament. With local Buick dealers, Mancour started the Little Buick Open in 1969. It drew players and fans and led to the rebirth of the Buick in 1977.
Mancour started as a caddie at 11 and never forgot junior golfers. He hosted the American Junior Golf Association's first tournament in Michigan in 1985. Mancour also designed nationally-recognized Dunmaglas Golf Club in Charlevoix and Chestnut Valley in Harbor Springs.
Mancour was named Michigan Player of the Year twice as well as the Golf Professional of the Year, winner of the Michigan PGA, Senior PGA, Senior Open, Northern Michigan PGA champion, winner of seven team championships, National PGA Quarter Century and Senior championships in the PGA Winter Series in Florida.
Jack Seltzer, 60, is another Flint native who started young in golf. He won the Class A high school championship in 1967 while at Flint Southwestern and was Flint Junior champion in 1969, junior college champion in 1971 and '72 and has won all three major state championships - the Open, the Match Play and the PGA.
He played on the 1983 PGA Cup team against Great Britain and Ireland at Muirfield, Scotland, and won his singles match. Seltzer won all four Michigan PGA team championships in 1978, each with a different partner. He's been four-time State Pro-Am champion, three-time Pro-Pro and twice Senior-Junior champion.
The best shot of Seltzer's career came in the final round on the ninth hole of the Bear in the 1987 Michigan Open. The ninth is all carry over water and Seltzer aced the hole. A television camera caught it and the video went national as Seltzer rolled on to win.
A longtime club professional in Hillsdale, Seltzer also spent time in South Florida in Stuart and was South Florida PGA Player of the Year in 1984, South Florida PGA champion in 1983 and Dixie Section champion in 2008. He currently is at the Kendall Academy and, over his years of teaching, he's had 32 high school all-state players, 11 Michigan Dream Team players and one Miss Golf Michigan.
Jack Van Ess is the most unusual of all 98 members of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame; he didn't play on Sunday and consequently only played tournaments that ended on Saturday. He led the Western Michigan Amateur five times going into Sunday and then withdrew.
Nevertheless, Van Ess, 84, has had a sterling career. He's won the State Senior Open and Senior Amateur, the only player to make that double. He won the Dale Morey Society of Seniors event in South Carolina and World Super Seniors 80 and over in North Carolina. He won the club championship at Green Ridge CC, which morphed into Egypt Valley, 10 times over four decades.
Van Ess played in the U.S. Amateur in California, the North and South Amateur at Pinehurst, the Western Amateur at Point O'Woods, the Senior Amateur in Texas and Senior Open in Minnesota. Van Ess ended Dan Pohl's Michigan Amateur defense in 1976 when he beat the Mt. Pleasant bomber, 3 and 2, in the second round. Pohl did win the Amateur again in 1977 and then turned professional and is also a Hall of Fame member.
The special award to MSU's Turf Team marks the second time the Michigan Golf Foundation has recognized an important contribution to golf in the state. The Buick Open was honored in 2008 for its half-century of bringing the game's best players to Michigan.
For more information on this year's induction ceremony, contact Loretta at [email protected] or 248-719-0650.
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