Text: Greg Johnson
Jack Nicklaus, golf legend and founder of Nicklaus Design, headlined a Golf Association of Michigan Foundation fundraiser gala at Oakland Hills Country Club in Farmington Hills, Michigan on Monday, June 17, 2019 to help honor the association’s centennial milestone.
The GAM 100 Celebration featured golf for 120 people on the famed South Course, and dinner for roughly 300 individuals. Proceeds benefit the GAM Foundation and its efforts to grow the game through its Youth on Course initiative where young players under 18-years-old have the opportunity to play more than 100 participating Michigan golf courses for about $5 or less.
Nicklaus congratulated the GAM on its centennial and praised it for its efforts with youth golf.
“That’s what this room is all about; getting people on the golf course and serving golf,” Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus, 79-years-old and retired professional golfer, returned to where he won the 1991 U.S. Senior Open on the South Course in a playoff with Chi Chi Rodriguez, and where 30 years earlier he finished fourth in the 1961 U.S. Open as a 21-year-old amateur. Nicklaus met with the state’s media, and took part in a special dinner celebration, which included him chatting with WJR Radio personality Frank Beckman in front of an audience of 300 people who donated to the fundraiser.
Monday was also the final practice day for the 108th Michigan Amateur Championship that Oakland Hills is hosting across the street on the North Course throughout the following five days starting Tuesday, June 18, 2019.
Nicklaus talked on a variety of subjects throughout the day, including his favorite subjects of limiting the flight of the golf ball, making golf cheaper, and getting more young people to play. Nicklaus also said his career had turned in recent years to being part of projects that help people and charities, because of his wife Barbara.
“She supported my golf game for 45 years, so for the last 15 [years] I’ve supported the things she wants to do and she is all about helping people,” Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus also noted that donating his services to Grand Haven Golf Club’s new American Dunes Golf Club was a product of having great respect for Major Dan Rooney’s Folds of Honor program and the fact that Rooney will be honoring that program at the course.
“I’ve supported Dan and Folds of Honor and it’s a beautiful piece of property on natural sand dunes,” Nicklaus said. “Dan wanted a dunes golf course, and that’s what we are going to give him. It should be pretty special.”
Oakland Hills Country Club Photo by Nile Young