Past Ann Arbor Amateur Champions
by Susan Bairley
While it may be only the second time in its 86-year history that the Michigan Amateur Championship will be held in Ann Arbor, several Ann Arbor golfers previously have brought home significant pieces of the tournament by winning championship titles.
Among them are the late Carlton Wells and John Malloy, both three-time title winners, and well-known golf architect William Newcomb, who won the championship in 1967.
While champions of the past 85 contests have come from many cities throughout the state -- including 23 titles to Detroit golfers, only 13 players have won the tournament more than once. However, those 13 collectively hold nearly half_42_of the tournament's titles. Only one, Chuck Kocsis of Detroit (and later, Royal Oak) won the title six times. Glenn Johnson of Grosse Ile won the championship five times. James Standish Jr. of Detroit and Pete Green of Franklin each earned the title four times, and five players were three-time winners -- including Wells and Malloy. Another four, including Dan Pohl, are two-time champions.
Wells won the championship in 1922, 1923 and 1925, and Malloy won in three consecutive years, 1927-29. Years later, both were inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame -- Wells and his putter in 1987, and Malloy in the 1990s.
Lifelong Ann Arbor resident Howard Wikel is a member of Golf Association of Michigan's Board of Governors and chairman of this year's event. He remembers Wells and Malloy well, having golfed "hundreds of times" with both.
"My father was one of the original members at Ann Arbor Golf and Outing, and Johnny (Malloy) was the pro there for years (1930-1967). Carlton Wells was an English professor at U-M," Wikel said.
"Carlton played exactly by the rules. If you and he were about 100 yards from the green, he'd pace it to see if he was 101 yards (and should hit first). But he was fun to golf with," Wikel said. "John also was a fine golfer."
Malloy was the first golfer to win the state amateur championship three consecutive years, and in 1927, while competing in the National Amateur Championship in Minneapolis, he carded a 72 in a practice round, two strokes ahead of the legendary Bobby Jones. He finished his qualifying round one stroke behind Jones.
Bill Newcomb "came out of retirement" to win the tourney in 1967. "I won the Indiana Open in 1962 and as a USGA quarterfinalist, I played in The Masters in 1963. After that, I got married, had a child and went back to graduate school," he said.
Newcomb worked as a golf architect under Pete Dye, but in 1967 when he decided to establish his own firm in Michigan, he knew some name recognition would give him a jump start. So he entered the Michigan Amateur competition and won.
"It was great. It was just like I planned," Newcomb said with a chuckle. And actually, his plan really did work. "Within 48 hours, I got a call from Everett Kircher to talk with me about designing what is now Boyne Mountain's Alpine Course," he said.
Newcomb added he's proud to be among Michigan's Amateur Champions and wishes there were even more opportunities to showcase the excellent caliber of amateur golf in Michigan.
Wikel said he's pleased to see the championship in Ann Arbor and feels the city now is prime location for the tournament.
"Since Art Hills did the renovation of the University of Michigan Golf Course and the clubhouse is newly refurbished, I think the entire organization is just better prepared to handle an event like this," he said. "And really, the overall growth of Ann Arbor and its facilities, has made hosting an event like this more comfortable," he added, noting that another major tournament is headed for the city in 1998 -- the USGA Women's National Amateur Championship, which will be at Barton Hills Country Club.
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