August Meekhof wins 101st GAM Championship
August Meekhof (GAM photo)
August Meekhof (GAM photo)

It took some late dramatics and three holes of sudden-death playoff golf before August Meekhof of Eastmanville emerged as the winner of the 101st Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Plum Hollow Country Club Tuesday.

Meekhof, a Michigan State University golfer, made an eagle-3 on the par 5 No. 17 hole in regulation play to take the lead by one shot.

Grant Haefner of West Bloomfield, who was playing in his last amateur tournament before turning professional, then birdied No. 18 with an approach shot to three-feet while Meekhof made a par save following a wayward tee shot and punchout shot from the right of the fairway.

Meekhof shot a final even-par 70 in regulation and Haefner shot 69 for the tie at 7-under 203. On the third extra hole, Meekhof rolled in a 24-foot birdie putt for the win.

“That’s what golf is – playing under pressure so it was a lot fun that we played pretty close coming down the stretch,” Meekhof said. “Grant made a nice birdie on 18 to force extra holes and then we both struggled the first couple playoff holes, but I ended up finishing it pretty good.”

Haefner, who recently finished school at Jacksonville University (Fla.) said he would have loved to leave the amateur ranks with the GAM title, but said he had his chances.

"I got a friend egg in the bunker on the first playoff hole and figured it was over, but August didn’t close the door, and then I had the chance to close the door on the second playoff hole and didn’t do it,” Haefner said. “Then August shut it with that putt on the third hole. To be honest I was pretty happy with the way I hit it all day – just a few putts didn’t fall when I wanted.”

Jimmy Dales of Northville, a University of Wyoming golfer, had or shared the lead a few times through the final round and was playing in the final group with Meekhof and Haefner. He ended up shooting 72 for 207 and third place.

Bradley Smithson of Grand Rapids, another MSU golfer, shot 69 for 208 and fourth.

Three golfers tied for fifth at 209 including Coalter Smith of Grosse Pointe Farms and the University of Wisconsin, who closed with a 72, and Grand Valley State University teammates Charles DeLong of DeWitt, who shot 71, and recent Michigan Amateur Champion Nick Krueger of Spring Lake, who shot 70.

Meekhof set the wheels in motion for the late dramatics when he hit a 7-iron second shot 220 yards to five feet on No. 17. He made the putt for the eagle 3.

“The pressure and playoff, making the eagle when I need it, that was fun and it’s been a fun last couple of days with my (MSU) teammates here and I’m really thankful for my parents coming down,” he said. “It has kind of been a year of almost for me. I’ve been in contention in pretty much every event I’ve played and it’s finally good to actually win.”

He will have his name added to the K.T. Keller Trophy with GAM legends. For the last year, the historic trophy was on display at the Lasch Family Golf Center at Michigan State which is home to the golf teams. James Piot of Canton won possession of it a year ago before winning the U.S. Amateur Championship and launching his professional career.

“James had a couple of nice trophies in there,” Meekhof said. “It’s cool it will be back there this year.”

by Greg Johnson, Golf Association of Michigan

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ABOUT THE GAM Championship

54-hole stroke play championship with qualifying required for those who do not meet exemption criteria. Open to men with handicaps of 5.4 or lower.

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