Iverson inducted into Michigan Golf Hall of Fame

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – Becky Iverson, an LPGA Tour winner from Gladstone, won on the LPGA Tour and never lost a Solheim Cup match, but she said her best moments of golf were not during her professional career.

“The best moments will always be playing with my family in Michigan,” she said.

Iverson, history-making amateur golfer Tom Werkmeister, pioneer turfgrass educator Paul Rieke and journalist Vartan Kupelian were inducted Sunday in ceremonies at Ferris State University.

“We’re all citizens of the same nation, the golf nation,” said Kupelian, a native of Armenia. “We meet on the tee, shake hands and we become friends for the next few hours.”

Rieke said golf is blessed to have many of his former students working in Michigan and producing the turf for golf courses.

“Soil is a wonderful resource,” he said. “Don’t take it for granted.”

Werkmeister said the game has blessed him with talent, friends and wonderful honors.

“It’s a game I love, and sometimes hate, but I’m so fortunate and so humbled to be part of this,” he said.

Iverson was introduced by Hall of Fame member Sara Wold, Kupelian was introduced by his daughter Lisa, Rieke was introduced by colleague Joseph Vargas, Jr., and Werkmeister was introduced by former Grand Rapids Press golf writer Greg Johnson. Radio personality Michael Patrick Shiels was master of ceremonies.

Ferris, as part of the program, officially welcomed the Hall of Fame to campus and showed specifications of a new facility that is planned to house the school’s prominent Professional Golf Management Program as well as be the new home of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

The induction of Iverson, Werkmeister, Rieke and Kupelian brings Hall of Fame membership to 105. In November it was announced that Ferris State University had been selected as the new location of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame and its collection of plaques, portraits and memorabilia that commemorate its members.

Iverson, born in Escanaba and raised in Gladstone, played for 14 years on the LPGA Tour, was named to the U.S. Solheim Cup Team in 2000, won the 1987 Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship and played collegiate golf at Michigan State University where she was an Academic All-American in 1987-88.

Her playing career highlights include winning the 1995 Friendly’s Classic Title on the LPGA Tour, where she recorded a career-best 63 during the second round with nine birdies, and a tie for second in the 2000 Women’s British Open. She had LPGA Tour career earnings of more than $1.5 million, and also won six times while playing on three mini-tours, including the Central Florida Challenge Tour where she was Player of the Year in 1993.

Iverson, 46, started golf at eight years of age and credits her parents, George Clifton and Vickie Layton, as the individuals who have most influenced her career. She is the mother of one daughter, Emma, who was born in 2003.

Currently, she is the director of golf at The Bridges Golf Course in Madison, Wis., and recognized for leading a junior program emphasizing life lessons as well as golf skills. In 2013 she became eligible for and started playing on The LPGA Legends Tour.

Werkmeister, a Kentwood resident who was born in Warren, made Michigan golf history last summer when he became the first amateur in 38 years to win the Michigan Open Championship. His 2009 Michigan Amateur title along with the Open title placed him with Chuck Kocsis, Randy Erskine and Lynn Janson in an elite club of Michigan Golf Hall of Fame members who have won the two state titles.

Werkmeister also won the 2013 Michigan Mid-Amateur for the fifth time in the last six years, an unprecedented feat in the 31 years of the championship. In addition, he made history in the Grand Rapids area by being the first to ever win the four local “Grand Slam” events, and was qualifying medalist in the Michigan Amateur before falling to eventual champion Andrew Chapman in Match Play.

Rieke, a Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University since 1999 and affiliated with the university since 1960, is generally regarded throughout the nation and world as the authority on turfgrass soils and nutrition and credited by his peers in the international development and advancement of turfgrass science.

He has co-authored five books in the area of soils and plant nutrition, published 32 journal articles and over 400 non-technical papers, taught over 5,000 students, worked with countless others on extension and research projects, served six years as leader of the MSU Turfgrass Team, served the International Turfgrass Society, the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation, the USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Committees, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the PGA Tour Agronomy Advisory Committee and the Golf Association of Michigan Green Committee.

Rieke, 79, is a resident of Okemos and among his many awards are distinguished service awards from the Golf Association of Michigan and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

Kupelian was the third Detroit golf writer to be elected President of the Golf Writers Association of America, an international organization of 950 members. He also joins join Jack Berry and John Walter in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

He followed Berry as the golf writer at the Detroit News in 1994 after working for several years on a bevy of beats. He covered his first major golf championship in 1973 when Johnny Miller won at Oakmont.

Kupelian, a graduate of Highland Park High School and Wayne State University, has authored three books on golf, including one on Tiger Woods, the most recent “100-year History of Red Run Golf Club” and “Chuck Kocsis, Michigan’s Golfer of the 20th Century,” which he wrote pro-bono with proceeds going to the Michigan Golf Foundation. This year his book on Oakland Hills Country Club will be published to commemorate the 100thanniversary of the prestigious club in 2016.

Currently, the 67-year-old Farmington Hills resident is part of a weekly radio show in the Detroit market, writes a weekly column for PGATOUR.com as Champions Tour insider, works as a lead writer for Masters.com during the Masters Tournament each year at Augusta National Golf Club, is a senior correspondent for Global Golf Post, and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Golf Association of Michigan and chairman of the GAM communications committee.