As the birthplace of the Professional Golf Management academic program, Ferris State University is already well respected in the golf industry. That well-earned reputation was just one of the reasons it was selected as the future home of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.
For more than a year, hall of fame staff searched for a permanent location to display its collection of plaques, portraits and memorabilia commemorating its 101 members, a roster that includes such notables as Elaine Crosby, Walter Hagen, Dave and Mike Hill, Chuck Kocsis, Meg Mallon, Horton Smith, Rick Smith and Al Watrous. As part of that search, the state’s golf community responded with proposals to partner with the Michigan Golf Foundation, a nonprofit corporation with a mission to preserve the legacy of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.
After careful study of the submitted proposals, the Michigan Golf Foundation focused on a plan presented by Ferris. The foundation saw Ferris’ proposal as an ideal collaborative opportunity that was mutually beneficial.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for both organizations," said Fritz Balmer, president of the Michigan Golf Foundation and chair of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Committee. "What better place to exhibit the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame portraits, plaques and memorabilia, in an interactive manner, than at Ferris State University, the birthplace of the Professional Golf Management curriculum. Putting the students in touch with golf history and the people who made that history is a perfect fit. We are extremely fortunate."
Praise for the new partnership was echoed by university officials. Fritz Erickson, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, saluted the teaching and learning opportunities this collaborative effort will create.
"We are delighted to host the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame at Ferris State University," Erickson said. "The Michigan Golf Hall of Fame will provide an exceptional teaching and learning opportunity for our PGM students and visitors to our campus.
"We look forward to using the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame to help us celebrate the golf industry and inspire our students who are passionately pursuing careers in this important industry for our state," he added.
Bob McMasters, a past foundation president, made establishing a home for the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame a top priority during his leadership. Along with late founder Ken Janke, McMasters helped transition the hall of fame from its original home, at Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion, to its most recent location, in Troy.
"It is wonderful news that the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame has found a permanent home at Ferris State University," McMasters said. "Ferris has the resources and contacts to ensure a sustainable and successful future for the hall of fame."
Dan Pohl, a Mount Pleasant native, is one of the state’s most successful competitive golfers. He was elected to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 2004 and is among the inductees who are excited about a new home.
"With its long association with the game, Ferris is an ideal home for the hall of fame," Pohl said. "I'm very pleased to learn of this exciting news."
Aaron Waltz, director of Ferris' PGM program, appreciates what this opportunity means for the university’s golf management students.
"I am extremely excited about the relocation of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame to Ferris State University," said Waltz, director of a program that was the first of its kind sanctioned by the Professional Golfers’ Association of America in 1975. "This not only allows the hall of fame to have a new home, but gives all of the Ferris PGA Golf Management students the opportunity to understand the rich history and tradition of excellent golf in Michigan."
Janke, with the support of Indianwood owner Stan Aldridge, started the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 1982. The hall’s first class included Hagen, a legendary showman golfer; Kocsis, Michigan's own version of Bobby Jones; and Watrous, who was runner-up to Jones in the 1926 British Open.
The Michigan Hall of Fame Committee, a subset of the Michigan Golf Foundation, includes 17 members representing a cross-section of the major golf organizations and media, and conducts an annual election for the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame. The Hall recognizes the achievements of competitive Michigan players, but also those of individuals who have contributed to the growth of the game.