MICHIGAN OPEN, JUNE 29-JULY 2
by Kelly Hill
Kal and Ann Kohn are volunteers. Their friends are volunteers. Their friends' friends are volunteers. And none of them even root for the University of Tennessee. Instead, they root for the Michigan Open and the players that compete in it each year.
For each of the first 16 years that the Open has been played at Grand Traverse Resort, the Kohns have recruited the almost 100 volunteers that are necessary to make the tournament one of the best state opens in the nation. "We have not had any problem getting enough volunteers but some of them have left the Traverse City area now and are moving to warmer climates," said Ann Kohn, a retired Traverse City High School employee. "We have had very loyal support from a lot of people."
Two people offering the Kohns and every other Michigan Open volunteer most loyal support are Michigan PGA Executive Director Ken Devine and Grand Traverse Resort Director of Golf Mike Meindertsma. Perhaps that is because Devine and Meindertsma know there would be no Michigan Open without the Kohns and their volunteers.
"We couldn't pull it off without them," said Devine. "That golf course (The Bear) can be brutal for losing golf balls and the volunteers go out there gladly and search. They do everything really," Devine said. "They work on the leader boards, they call in scores to the press tent, they work as marshalls and spotters and they even transport players.
"They are invaluable. We could not do it without them," Devine added. "Without them, the Michigan Open would be just another golf tournament."
With volunteers stationed on every tee and every green and along several fairways at The Bear, and with some volunteers unable to work all four days of the 72-hole tournament, almost 100 volunteers are needed to service the Open.
"Our volunteers are an integral part of the success of the Michigan Open year in and year out," Meindertsma said. "Our core volunteer staff has been with us for years. The number of volunteers we need depends on how many days people can work, because most of them can't work all four days.
"These volunteers," Meindertsma continued, "bring a sense of experience and professionalism to the tournament that makes this state open a terrific experience for the players. Our volunteers are critical -- and they do a great job."
NAME: Kal and Ann Kohn
BACKGROUND: Kal is a retired Michigan Bell supervisor and Ann is retired from Traverse City High School.
VOLUNTEER ROLES: Recruiting almost 100 volunteers each year. Also oversee volunteer force from volunteer command post.
YEARS OF SERVICE: 16.
SPECIAL MEMORIES: "One day they had so many rain delays that they played until 8:45 (p.m.)," Ann said, "but still had to start play early the next day to finish one round. Also, when the course was very new, there was so much water on it that they had to ferry players across the fairway on No. 4."
FAVORITE PLAYERS: Brad Dean, but, "They are all very nice players."
NAME: Don and Jeri Day.
BACKGROUND: Don is a retired Michigan Bell engineer. Jeri Day is the retired office manager of the Traverse Bay Woolen Co.
VOLUNTEER ROLES: Several - Press tent attendants; scorers on 18th green; marshalls; spotters at sixth green and sixth tee.
YEARS OF SERVICE: 12.
SPECIAL MEMORIES: "I remember an amateur from Bay City," Don said. "The first day he was the low amateur and the second day the roof fell in. He was playing with Buddy Whitten and Buddy said that in 30 years of golf he had never seen some of the things that happened to that guy." Don also remembers one player posting an 11 on one hole after at least three bunker shots and "putting for a long time."
FAVORITE PLAYERS: Buddy Whitten and Jack Seltzer.
NAME: Jack McGovern
BACKGROUND: Retired dentist.
VOLUNTEER ROLE: Marshall.
YEARS OF SERVICE: 16.
SPECIAL MEMORIES: Not Brent Veenstra's hole-in-one. "The one thing I remember is was when I was working on the 18th tee. I always watch shots coming down to the par-3 17th and in all the time I've worked there, there has been one hole-in-one. Brent Veenstra got it and when he did I
happened to be looking the other way."
FAVORITE PLAYERS: John Traub, Randy Erskine, Bill Enders and Scott Hebert.
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