Gary McCord steals the show to kick off the 100th Michigan Amateur at Boyne Highlands Resort
HARBOR SPRINGS, Mich. – Today kicked off the 100th edition of The Michigan Amateur at the Heather Course at Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs. This is a special week for the Golf Association of Michigan. And Boyne, Michigan’s largest course operator, rolled out the red carpet for the affair.
But as good as the golf is sure to be all week by Michigan’s top young guns (and some older ones), it was the general debauchery of Gary McCord, the sharp-tongued CBS announcer, that people who attended the special kickoff event yesterday will remember.
McCord did a clinic Monday afternoon and was the special guest speaker at a spectacular Champions Dinner later that evening. While players were preparing with practice rounds on The Heather Course at Boyne Highlands, a special outing was held on the Arthur Hills course. I hadn’t played the Hills in at least 3-4 years, so I couldn’t remember how good of a course it really was. It’s as fun as any in northern Michigan.
The green surrounds are tricky. Some are shaved. Others are carpeted with thick rough. Most greens are table-top, elevated plateaus that are hard to hit. The elevated 13th tee – which crashes downhill – might be the most scenic in the state (see below).
True to form, McCord did more talking than hitting shots at his clinic after golf. He dove into a lot of heavy swing theory without taking too many swings himself. McCord – more famous for his mouth and his mustache than his game – went 22 years on the PGA Tour without a single win. Most people know him more as the announcer who was booted from The Masters for life than his handful of Champions Tour wins. He knows where his bread is buttered.
After the golf clinic, McCord and defending champion Joey Garber, a Petoskey High product fresh off an NCAA appearance with the University of Michigan golf team, held an intimate press conference. Garber mentioned that he’s hitting his irons better than ever and doesn’t feel pressure to defend. He’s happy to be able to play in front of so many family and friends this week.
Then McCord held court on all topics, ranging from Rory McIlroy’s historic U.S. Open win to Tiger’s troubles. McCord wouldn’t touch the subject of Tiger too in depth because he repeatedly noted that “Tiger is keeping track” of all those who criticize or doubt him.
As only Boyne can, the Champions Dinner was a classy reception of several hundred people. Everybody was dressed up in jackets, and ties and the food was excellent. WJR Radio’s Steve Courtney was a riot as the emcee. As soon as he got up on stage, he pulled out his wireless phone and said “Did anybody just get a text from former Senator Wiener?”
The gloves were off at that point. After guests met the past champions in attendance and had dinner, McCord knocked them dead with his tales of the “muni” where he grew up in southern California. His risque stories of illegal aliens, Uzis, bookies, gambling, a stay in jail and general unruliness with his friends named “Fairway Louie” and “20/20″ (a blind guy) were off the hook. He ended the night with a story that he said “couldn’t leave the room.” I won’t break the code of brotherhood McCord made us swear by, but it involves David Feherty and ashes. You can take it from there.
The four-day tournament, which ends Saturday after three days of match play, kicked off with a ceremony this morning that included Michigan Am. legends Bud Stevens, Glenn Johnson and Peter Green. Whatever happens this week on the course and the iconic 18th finishing hole (see below), it is sure to be a special one for the players, volunteers and fans. Another celebration like this probably won’t be held for another century. I hope I don’t have to wait another 100 years to hear more of McCord’s juicy golf stories.
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