The Michigan Golf Hall of Fame will formally induct four new members on Sunday, June 8 in ceremonies at Ferris State University. In late 2013, the Michigan Golf Foundation and the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame accepted an invitation to establish its new and permanent home at Ferris in Big Rapids.
Becky Iverson, Tom Werkmeister, Paul Rieke and Vartan Kupelian were selected based on nominations and a voting process by the Hall of Fame Committee and past Hall of Fame inductees.
Iverson, raised in Gladstone, won the 1995 Friendly’s Classic Title on the LPGA Tour, where she recorded a career-best 63 during the second round with nine birdies and tied for second in the 2000 Women’s British Open. She had LPGA Tour career earnings of more than $1.5 million and won six times while playing on three mini-tours, including the Central Florida Challenge Tour where she was player of the year in 1993.
She is currently the director of golf at The Bridges Golf Course in Madison, Wis., and is recognized for leading a junior program emphasizing life lessons as well as golf skills. In 2013, she started playing on the LPGA Legends Tour.
“It’s such an honor to be elected to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame. There’s something very special about Michigan and its golf history. I feel fortunate to be part of that rich history,” Iverson said. “I’m also indebted to so many people who have gone before me, who worked so hard to create opportunities for not only me but women golfers in general.”
Werkmeister, a Kentwood resident, made Michigan golf history last summer when he became the first amateur in 38 years to win the Michigan Open Championship. He also won the 2013 Michigan Mid-Amateur for the fifth time in the last six years, an unprecedented feat. In addition, he made history in the Grand Rapids area as the first to ever win the four local “Grand Slam” events.
Werkmeister, a three-time Golf Association of Michigan Player of the Year, now runs his own Internet sales business. His wife, Leslie, is known across the state as a constant gallery member and occasional caddie.
“It never entered my mind, until recently, that I could be in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, and ever since I was elected it has been great to receive all the congratulations from my friends and peers. It’s a unique experience now when I go to a tournament or club and people say the nicest things about me being a part of the hall of fame,” Werkmeister said. “I’m so honored and so excited for that day.”
Rieke, of Okemos, has co-authored five books in the area of soils and plant nutrition, published 32 journal articles and more than 400 non-technical papers, taught more than 5,000 students and worked with countless others on extension and research projects. He served six years as leader of the Michigan State University Turfgrass Team, served the International Turfgrass Society, the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation, The United States Golf Association Turfgrass and Environmental Research Committees, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the Professional Golf Association Tour Agronomy Advisory Committee and the Golf Association of Michigan Green Committee.
He has been a professor emeritus at MSU since 1999 and is generally regarded throughout the world as the authority on turfgrass soils and nutrition. He is credited by his peers for the international development and advancement of turfgrass science.
“I’m humbled and absolutely delighted about being inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame,” Rieke said. “I’m thankful for the hall of fame for recognizing my non-playing contributions.”
Kupelian, a Farmington Hills resident, was the third Detroit golf writer to be elected president of the Golf Writers Association of America. He has authored three books on golf, including one on Tiger Woods. This year, his book on Oakland Hills Country Club will be published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the prestigious club in 2016.
Kupelian is now part of a weekly radio show in the Detroit market, writes a weekly column for PGATOUR.com as Champion Tour insider and works as a lead writer for Masters.com during the Masters Tournament each year at Augusta National Golf Club. In addition, he is a senior correspondent for Global Golf Post, a member of the Board of Governors of the Golf Association of Michigan and chairman of the organizations communications committee.
“To be inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame is a seminal honor,” said Kupelian. “To have it happen at Ferris State University during a welcoming ceremony for the new home of the hall of fame certainly amplifies the occasion for me.”
The induction of Iverson, Werkmeister, Rieke and Kupelian brings hall of fame membership to 105. In November, Ferris was announced as the new location for the hall’s collection of plaques, portraits and memorabilia that commemorate its members. 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 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.
Registration will start at 9:30 a.m. with a complimentary golf instruction clinic at 10 a.m., shotgun start at 11 a.m. and welcoming ceremony and cocktail reception at 4 p.m. Dinner at the Holiday Inn will be at 5 p.m. and the induction ceremony will immediately follow.
Golf attire is acceptable for the dinner and induction ceremony. Event fees are $175 per person or $50 not including golf and $30 for those under the age of 21. The ticket deadline is May 23.
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.