EAST LANSING - The newest foursome in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame -- champions all -- took time to champion the game during induction ceremonies Sunday at Michigan State's Forest Akers Golf Club.
Rick Smith, Gaylord's internationally celebrated golf course designer and instructor, highly regarded Flint area PGA professionals Larry Mancour and Jack Seltzer and Grand Rapids amateur legend Jack Van Ess bring the number of inductees to 98 in the Hall of Fame currently located in Troy.
Friends, family and golf supporters filled The Henry Center for the induction dinner following a golf outing. The Michigan State University Turf Team received a Special Award from the Michigan Golf Foundation for its outstanding work in improving the quality of golf course turf statewide and internationally.
Smith, introduced by George Blaha, the voice of MSU football and Detroit Pistons basketball, noted that Michigan is third among U.S. states in the number of golf courses constructed, but No. 1 in golf spirit. "I'm really proud of that," the Coldwater native said. "I'm so honored to be included."
Mancour, introduced by Hall of Fame golf writer Jack Berry, said Michigan golf and golfers have been good to him and those he loves. "We have lived in the best place in the world at the best time and been involved in the best game," he said.
Seltzer, introduced by Hall of Fame golfer Lynn Janson, called his induction the greatest day in his golf life. "I fell in love with golf playing 54-holes a day as a kid in Flint, and I still feel it's the greatest game in the world for getting to know people," he said. "Michigan has a lot of great golf people."
Van Ess, introduced by former Golf Association of Michigan president John O'Donovan, said there is great pride in representing his community and family as a golfer. He encouraged the audience to play golf in part to make friendships. "Next time you meet a couple of people at the first tee, remember you might be meeting your best friend," he said.
Smith also talked in his speech about his love of teaching the game, working with notable players like Phil Mickelson, and his current design work in China. He was lauded by Blaha for his golf ideas -- the Par 3 Shootout on ESPN, as well as the "Big Break" concept for the Golf Channel.
Mancour, who has worked at many facets of the game including course design, and Seltzer, currently part of the rich Kendall Golf Academy stable of teachers, each noted their history with Flint's highly-regarded junior golf program.
Both went on to win major state championships, compete nationally and internationally and now are passing on their knowledge.
Seltzer will compete in the PGA Professional National Championship later this summer with his son John, who is also a PGA pro. They will be the first father-son combination to ever play in the storied tournament.
Van Ess, soon to be 85, was lauded for honoring his father's request that he not play on Sundays because of religious reasons, but also for the golf he accomplished the other six days, including national senior titles.
The plaques of the new foursome and donated memorabilia join the collection currently housed in the Hall of Fame at the Troy Officentre, 320 East Big Beaver Rd., Suite 160, building B. The facility is available by appointment and the space is donated by the Osprey Group.
Find out more about the Hall of Fame at www.michigan-golf-foundation.com
. The Michigan Golf Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax deductible.