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Golf warms the fire on frigid day

December 16, 2010
By Dennis Grall

ESCANABA - The snow is swirling, the temperatures are plummeting, spring is still four months away, but golf is on the agenda today.

First off, Nik Ahola of Gladstone is getting a great opportunity to compete in a prestigious golf tournament.

A redshirt sophomore on the Florida Gulf Coast University team in Fort Myers, he is playing in the Dixie Amateur this weekend at Heron Bay Golf Club in Coral Gables, Fla. Only players on NCAA Division 1 golf rosters or with a 1-handicap or better are invited to the event, which ran from 1924-53 and continuously since 1963.

Highly regarded Dr. Jim Suttie is the school's golf coach. Among his pupils are PGA stars Paul Azinger, Loren Roberts and Mark Wilson. An up-and-comer is FGCU alum Derek Lamely, who won a tour event in 2010.

Baseball is also a rising sport at FGCU, which became Division 1 in 2009. A friend of Ahola's is Chris Sale, a former No. 1 draft pick now pitching with the Chicago White Sox.

Carrying Ahola's bag will be Matt Argall of Gladstone.

- Sara Brown will likely not be making a return trip to Sweetgrass Golf Club when the LPGA Futures tournament makes its first appearance in June.

Brown, on hand for the tourney announcement last month, tied for 14th at qualifying school Sunday to earn her LPGA Tour card for 2011. The former Michigan State University standout shot 72-73-72-71-74 and her 362 total was just eight shots behind medalist Aree Song of Seoul, South Korea.

Brown earned $1,657 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach.

Last month she helped five teammates beat six men in Big Break Dominican Republic, a Golf Channel event that is still airing. The vivacious and exuberant Brown, who earned $5,000 in that event, will be missed at Sweetgrass.

The 20 LPGA qualifiers come from eight countries.

- Golf professional Mike Husby has a new position, general manager and director of golf at LochenHeath Golf Club near Traverse City.

Husby was head professional at Wild Bluff Golf Course when the Brimley layout hosted the Canadian Open and Michelle Wie in 2003. He was also the architect for the second nine expansions at Manistique and Newberry golf courses and also designed Marsh Ridge in Gaylord.

Husby, a 36-year PGA professional, has been GM-golf director at Candlestone Golf and Resort in Belding the past five years.

LochenHeath had a huge opening 10 years ago as a private, upscale residential golf development but experienced several difficult years and was not open the past two years. Former NBA standout Dan Majerle, a Traverse City native, was among the early investors.

It was purchased in November by a group of investors from Traverse City, and Husby began restoring the course before the sale was completed.

Casey VanDamme of Perkins, now an assistant golf coach at the University of Tennessee, was golf pro at LochenHeath in 2008.

- Getting away from golf for football, if that's what you call that fiasco in Ford Field Sunday, fans of Detroit and Green Bay should be embarrassed by the performance of their favorite team. That was pathetically ugly.

If someone was visiting Mars Sunday, they would have figured the Green Bay-Detroit game was played outdoors in the blizzard while New England-Chicago, which was played in a blizzard, would have been indoors.

At least no one had to sit at the Frozen Tundra to watch that debacle.



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