Text: Greg Johnson
When Everett Kircher, founder of Boyne Resorts, and Glenn Johnson, Michigan Golf Hall of Fame legend, came up with the idea of the Kircher Cup Boyne Country Invitational in the early 1970s, it was a way to draw more golfers up north to play at Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs, Michigan on Labor Day Weekend.
Now, as the 44th annual Kircher Cup Boyne Invitational returns Friday, Aug. 31 through Sunday, Sept. 2; it will follow what has become another tradition: the Golf Association of Michigan’s Mid-Amateur Championship, or Mid-Am, which is also played at the Harbor Springs resort on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018 and Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018.
The Kircher Cup expects 65 or more teams to have signed up by the weekend tournament, which this year will be played on the Heather, Arthur Hills, and Moor courses at Boyne Highlands Resort.
“Having the Mid-Am and the Kircher Cup back-to-back does allow the tournaments to feed off each other some,” said Dan Turcott, events professional for Boyne. “They work well together. After the Mid-Am guys have played two days of individual competition, I think they find it kind of nice to have a partner to back you up when you have a bad hole.”
Turcott also noted the resort emphasizes the Kircher Cup as a family-friendly invitational, not just a men’s invitational. In fact, Chelsea Collura of Riverview, one of the top women golfers in the state and a recent semifinalist quarterfinalist in the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship, played in the championship division last year, albeit from a different designated tee.
“We would love to have more women golfers play,” Turcott said. “The Kircher Cup is for the whole family. A lot of our golfers bring their spouses and family members and make an entire Labor Day weekend out of it. We have events for the family, including a great family cookout, a golf outing for spouses who don’t want to be in the competition, several things aimed at the family like we present year-round at our resorts.”
Turcott also said especially in 1974 when the Kircher Cup was created, the Labor Day Weekend did not draw many golfers to the courses at the Boyne resorts.
“A lot of families were up north, but doing family things instead of golf and maybe cleaning out their cabins or cottages,” Turcott said. “[Kircher] and [Johnson] came up with the tournament, and it brought golfers and the golfers started bringing their families. We’ve gone a step farther and really encouraged it as a family weekend, and the golfers seem pleased with that.”
The legacy behind the initial tournament launch continues to this day with Steven Kircher, Everett’s son and the President of Boyne Resorts, competing in the tournament on a regular basis—and winning in the past; the Country Club of Boyne dedicated as the Glenn H. Johnson Scoreboard nearly five years ago—which lists some of his golf accomplishments like the Michigan Amateur championships five times; and the Mid-Amateur, in fact, awards the champion of its tournament the day before the Kircher Cup starts with the Glenn Johnson Trophy.
“It’s a last competitive event for golfers in the summer, including a lot of the best golfers in the state and just the many, many golfers who play at our resorts, as well as a celebration of Labor Day Weekend all rolled into one week,” Turcott said.
The Kircher Cup has been moved up a day to allow visiting golfers a chance to get home on Labor Day and make it easier for golfers to bring the family to the multi-faceted resort. In turn, the Mid-Amateur has moved to the Wednesday and Thursday slot because several of the players in that field traditionally stay for the weekend to compete in the two-person best-ball Kircher Cup as well.
Boyne Highlands, the No. 1 choice in the 2015 Top Ten Favorite U.S. Golf Resorts for Value by GOLF.com, has long featured The Heather, a Robert Trent Jones course that has been listed by Golf Digest among America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.
The Heather was Boyne’s first golf course, and Jones created a classic that features wide tree-lined fairways, sculpted bunkers and challenging water hazards. The Mid-Am field is very familiar with The Heather. It hosted the 100th Michigan Amateur in 2011.
The Arthur Hills course is the newest of the four courses at the resort. Arthur Hills, who also designed Bay Harbor’s 27 holes near Petoskey, did the design and it has also won numerous awards.
The Moor was the second course built at Boyne Highlands and challenges golfers with numerous doglegs and water hazards. It, too, has a championship pedigree as host of past Mid-Amateurs; the American Junior Golf Association, or AJGA, annual visit; the Kircher Cup; and Harbor Cup tournaments.