Ray Bolo – Bolo was the head professional at Western Golf and Country Club in the Detroit area for 37 years, teaching the game, building it through junior golf and making time to play at a high level, too. Bolo, retired and living in South Carolina, was a four-time Michigan PGA Seniors champion, scored an international senior professional division win in Scotland’s International Four Ball Tournament in 1983, and was also part of a winning pro-am team in the celebrated AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 1983.
Ben Davis – A graduate of Detroit Northern High School, Ben distinguished himself as a player and instructor at a time few African-Americans were encouraged to participate in golf. His years of devotion to the game and his playing ability made him a role model. Davis was the first black golf professional given membership in the Michigan Section of the PGA and won the 1974 Michigan PGA Seniors title. He began teaching in 1936 at the Pine Crest Driving Range in Ferndale and few golf professionals anywhere have given more lessons than Davis.
Ray Maguire – “From the time I was in knee pants, I knew what I wanted to be and what I was going to be – a golf pro,” said Maguire. His knee pants start was as a 10 year old caddie at Oakland Hills. “They said I was too young and too small initially but I got a job the next year.” Maguire eventually served as an assistant professional at Oakland Hills and then spent three decades as head professional at Birmingham Country Club. Maguire was a quintessential professional, teaching, running tournaments, always on hand. Maguire did not chase the pro circuit but he made national news during the 1949 US Open Qualifying Event at Plum Hollow where he aced the 205-yard fifth hole with a 2-iron shot and then holed out again on the 164-yard 14th with a 4 iron.
Larry Mancour – You’ve heard of sneaky long players. Larry Mancour is sneaky good, quietly winning championships, quietly teaching from juniors on up, quietly beginning and coaching a high school team at Alanson in northern Michigan, quietly designing courses including award-winning Dunmaglas at Charlevoix and Chestnut Valley at Harbor Springs and quietly rescuing the Buick Open.
Mancour came up the old-fashioned way, caddying at 11-years-old and then working five years on the greens crew at Atlas Valley, mowing fairways and greens and raking bunkers. He moved to California after two years at Flint Junior College and worked as the night waterman at Castlewood Country Club so he could practice and play during the day. He turned pro, taught at Golden Gate Fields driving range with Tony Lema, played on the PGA Tour and built nine holes at Lake Tahoe CC where he spent four years as the professional and teacher. He also won the Arizona Open while playing western events and returned to hometown Flint to play the 1967 Buick Open. That hooked him to stay in Michigan. Mancour built and then managed Grand Blanc Golf Club for three years and it was there, with Buick dealer Vern Parsell, he started the Little Buick Open in 1969 after General Motors surprisingly dropped sponsorship of one of golf’s biggest and most popular events. Billy Casper, Julius Boros, Jack Burke, Tony Lema and Tom Weiskopf, winners of 11 major championships, had won the Buick.
Mancour moved from Grand Blanc to the Flint Elks, his home for 20 years, and more local dealers joined him to keep the Buick name alive with the Little Buick Open. “It was funny watching these Tour guys playing next to a cornfield,” Mancour said of his Elks layout. Finally GM’s Goodwrench Division signed on for the Buick-Goodwrench Open in 1977 and it was played and won by South African Bobby Cole at the Flint Elks. Peter Oosterhuis, now a familiar voice on golf telecasts, tied for third. The tournament returned to Warwick Hills in 1978 with Mancour credited for the restoration. For all of his work in his hometown, building courses, staging tournaments and supporting juniors, Mancour was named to the Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame.
As a player Mancour won numerous state tournaments including the Michigan PGA, the Senior PGA and Senior Open. He played in six National PGA Championships, six National PGA Senior Championships and 14 Club Professional Championships. He was twice Michigan Player of the Year and twice Golf Professional of the Year. He won the Quarter Century Championship and the Senior Championship of the PGA Winter Series in Florida. He went to England and finished eighth in the 1992 British Senior Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
For all that, Mancour said one of his proudest achievements was seeing seven of his former “Bag Boys” follow him to become PGA Head Professionals.
Jeff Roth – Jeff Roth has won 15 Michigan PGA sanctioned major championships, which ties him for the all-time lead with Al Watrous. Below is a partial list of Jeff’s accomplishments:
GAM Junior Champion 1973
Michigan All-State High School Team 1974, 1975
Michigan Open Champion 1998, 2004
Michigan PGA Champion 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003
Michigan PGA Senior Championship 2008, 2009
Michigan PGA Match Play 2006, 2007
Michigan PGA Tournament of Champions 1995, 1996, 1999, 2008, 2012
Yamaha Golf Classic Champion 1987, 1988
Qualified 5 times National PGA Championship
Fuller Cup Team 18 times
PGA Cup Team 3 times
Jeff is the Michigan’s Section PGA leader in career money won and cumulative Player of the Year Points. Jeff has won 25 PGA sanctioned events over his career. As a golf professional beginning in 1979, he has almost 50 victories to his credit. His 54 hole, no bogey 67-65-66 total of 198 in the 2001 Michigan PGA, for a 9 shot victory, stands out as a career highlight. Winning the last point in the 1996 PGA Cup Matches to win the Cup for the United States Team was possibly his greatest golf moment. Jeff won the last 4 holes to come from 2 down with 4 to play for the winning point at Gleneagles in Scotland.
Jack Seltzer – Jack Seltzer watched on television when Arnold Palmer won the 1964 Masters Tournament. “That’s when I took up golf,” Seltzer said.
Seltzer turned 13 a month before and he lived five blocks from the Swartz Creek municipal golf course. The neighborhood kids played golf and took Seltzer to the course.
“They had a range and the kids showed me how to hold the club and swing. I was hooked from Day 1. Growing up in Flint was great. It was said Flint had the biggest junior golf program in the country. If you were under 16 or over 60 you could play for 60 cents all day. I ripped them off, 54 holes a day,” Seltzer said, laughing. “It wasn’t long before I was better than the kids who taught me. I made the varsity at Southwestern High School as a sophomore and won the state championship that year. Eighty guys went out for the team and you had to play.”
“I cut 10 lawns on Saturdays and Sundays, $4 a yard. Forty bucks. I was a millionaire!”
Seltzer won the Flint Junior Golf Association Championship and the Junior College Championship in 1971 and 1972 and turned professional in 1973.
Seltzer’s winning touch got even better as a pro. He won all of the state’s major titles, the PGA, the Match Play and the Open where his ace on the watery ninth hole at the Bear at Grand Traverse Resort became ESPN’s Shot of the Day. It was thanks to a small white deposit by a sea gull at the back of the green.
Usually on the final round the hole was cut toward the front. The cup positions are marked the night before with a white dot. But the person who cut the hole that morning mistook the sea gull’s drop for the dot. Seltzer finished at six-under-par, the first player to break par for the championship on the Bear and the local television station sent it national.
Seltzer’s performance in the final round of the PGA Cup series against Great Britain & Ireland, the club pros’ Ryder Cup, wasn’t as much a crowd pleaser. In the closing singles he met John Chillas at Muirfield, Scotland. Chillas was unbeaten in three team matches. He lived nearby and a crowd of 300 to 400 was at the tee. “We hit our tee shots and I looked back and they were all following us. I hit a 7-iron to10 feet on the first hole and only one person applauded – my wife, Pam. I made the putt, was 1-up and won 5 and 4,” Seltzer said.
Seltzer has continued to win as a senior but his focus is on teaching. It began at home with his son, John Jr. who now is head pro at Polo Fields G&CC. Dad has taught 38 high school youngsters who made All-State, one Miss Golf Michigan and 11 Dream Team players. Currently he’s working with the Elite Junior Program at the Kendall Academy in Ypsilanti. “The kids are sponges. It’s great to work with them.”
Rick Smith – In 1996, then Michigan Governor John Engler named Rick Smith Michigan’s ‘Golf Ambassador’. Engler commended Smith, a world renowned, highly respected and multi-talented golf professional, for his passion and commitment to the sport of golf, golf instruction and his constant efforts to promote the game in the state. Sixteen years ago Engler did a great job recognizing Smith’s career achievements and contributions to the game of golf and the state of Michigan. Smith has and is still making an indelible mark in golf in both Michigan and around the world.
As a golf professional and instructor, Smith has risen to become the state’s most acclaimed and nationally recognized figure. In the last 20 years, Golf Digest magazine has regularly ranked Smith among its Top 10 teachers in America. During this time, Golf Digest has consistently ranked Smith top golf instructor in the state. Additionally, Smith has been honored three times by the Michigan PGA Section as its Teacher of the Year.
Rick Smith is recognized as one of the top sounding boards for advice by professional golfers. His students, who have won a combined seven major championships and countless PGA Tour victories have included some of the most celebrated names in golf, such as Phil Mickelson, Lee Janzen, Rocco Mediate, Greg Norman and golfer of the century Jack Nicklaus.
As a course designer, Smith has also garnered national and state honors. His Arcadia Bluffs design resulted in Michigan’s most celebrated public and resort course, ranked by Golf Digest as No. 10 in its America’s ‘Greatest Public Golf Courses for America’ list and No. 1 in Michigan. Smith’s other notable designs are Wuskowhan Players Club, the Oakland University Golf Course and a trio of courses at Treetops Resorts including Threetops that gained fame when Smith hosted a nationally televised prime-time skins event on ESPN.
The affable and always upbeat Smith exudes class and charisma – he has established himself as a national media personality and communicator. From co-hosting the first two seasons of the now iconic Big Break series on the Golf Channel, to his teaching tips series on television and video, to his guest interviews on networks at major championships and PGA Tour events, Rick Smith remains a tireless advocate and ambassador for golf and for the state of Michigan.
Buddy Whitten – Whitten was born in Florida and went to school in Mississippi but after Army duty in Vietnam he worked his way to Michigan and an illustrious career in both state and national golf. Whitten played 20 years in the Club Professional Championship and won in 1979. He followed that with a 4-1 record in helping the United States to a 15-6 victory over Great Britain & Ireland in the PGA Cup Matches at Oak Tree in Edmond, Ok. Whitten’s CPC victory earned him a year on the PGA Tour and he also qualified and played on the Champions Tour after hitting his 50th birthday. The Blythefield CC professional was dominant in state golf in the 1970’s and 80’s, earning Player of the Year honors five times from 1977 to 1990. Whitten was a two-time winner of the Michigan Open, and the PGA stroke and match play championships.