A Storied History & Colorful Legacy

Posted In: Sports, Local Sports,   From Issue 792   By: Robert E Martin

19th June, 2014     0

Beginning back in 1955, The Saginaw District Golf Association’s annual District Invitational Tournament has been held each year at different golf courses throughout Saginaw County for over half a century. Thanks in large part to the vision of former Saginaw News Sports Editor Joe Hart, and the equally tireless effort, passion, and long-time commitment of my late father, Fred Martin, Jr., who served as Chairman of the tournament until his passing in 2004, this tournament has evolved into the premier amateur golf event in Saginaw County. 

It’s intent and purpose is centered upon the objective of identifying the very best amateur golfer in Saginaw County.

This year the 60th Anniversary Tournament will be held at Maple Hill Golf Club, Friday, Saturday & Sunday, June 20-21-22. This landmark anniversary year will also feature significant changes, with an Open Division and a Legends Division.

The Open Division remains for players under the age of 50 and the Legends Division has been added to replace the Senior Division for players age 50 or older by the first day of the Tournament.  The final field of golfers will consist of 72 players: 48 in the Open Division and 24 in the Legends Division.

Both the Open & Legends Divisions are 3-day, 54-hole events that are played concurrently.

Since the initial tournament, 32 different players have earned the distinction of District Champion, with Bill Strong, Sr., being the first in a long line of talented & gifted players.

Ron Stelter is the Dean of Participants, having played in every District Tournament since its inception. In the years from 1956 to 1979 Ron Stelter and Stan Murphy owned the District, accounting for wins in 15 of the 24 tournaments. Ron’s 10 victories likely will stand as a record for many years to come. Stan’s 5 victories put him second on the list of multiple champions, followed by Danny Hughes with 4 victories.

At  the 2012 Tournament, Matt Pumford also won his fourth District Crown with an excellent 3 under par 210.  Craig Barber  has secured 3 championships. Mike Anderson, Tom Doozan, Terry Franz, Mike Humphrey, Nick Pumford and Walk Van Sickle are two-time winners.

Introduced in 1994, the Senior Division has seen 10 different champions. Dave Bewley and Mike Humphrey have each won three Senior titles. Danny Hughes, Mike Skrocki and Mike Stelter have each won twice. Last year Alan Pumford recorded a 1 over par 143 and secured his Second title, having also won both the District Open and Senior Championships in 2011.
2014 Exempt Players
To be exempt from qualifying a player must meet certain exemption criteria in addition to other eligibility requirements, including residency and amateur status.  The Open Division will have a maximum of 24 exempt players.  The Legends Division will have a maximum of 12 exempt players.

If a player is eligible for exemption in the Open Division and is 50 years of age or older, he may elect to play in the Open Division or the Legends Division, but not both.  If the player elects to play in the Open Division, he is eligible for the Fred Martin, Jr. Trophy as well as the Joe Hart Trophy.

Open Division exemptions will go in the order listed to:
       A.  all Past Open Champions (lifetime);
       B.  the 21 Club Champion from the previous year, if otherwise eligible;
       C.  the prior year Senior Champion (1 year exemption);
       D.  the Top 10 finishers (including ties) in the Open Division from the preceding year;
       E.  The remainder of the 24 exempt positions will go to players with the most Top 20 finishes in Open Division play in the past 3 years. 
Legends Division

Rules & Procedures of the S.D.G.A.
USGA Rules apply during Saginaw District Golf Association sanctioned Qualifying and Tournament play. In addition, the following local rules and procedures are in effect for Tournament and Qualifying play as indicated. They have been determined and modified over the years of Saginaw District play to ensure fair and equitable competition.
Division Determination
The Tournament will consist of two Divisions, the Open Division and the Legends Division.  Players 50 years of age or older as of the first day of the Tournament are automatically entered in the Legends Division, unless they are eligible to play, and elect to play, in the Open Division by virtue of exemption or successful qualification.  Both the Open and Legends Division Tournaments will be 3 day, 3 round events, played concurrently, with each field being cut for the final day of competition.

Eligibility/Residency/Amateur Status
Players may be male or female and must be residents of Saginaw County and have USGA amateur status. A college student from another county is considered a resident if he lives in the county year around. A college student is not considered a resident if he lives in the county during the school year and then lives outside the county during the time school is not in session.



 New Changes in Effect

After surveying past district participants in late 2012, the SDGA Committee fashioned together changes that based upon invited comments are intended to improve the tournament. According to SDGA Committee Chair Burris Smith, these comments together with conversations with participants over the years prompted the new tournament format, which is outlined below.
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This new format reflects general agreement that the over and under 50-years of age divisions should be separate, but held concurrently; and that golfers over the age of 50 should have the opportunity to compete for both the Open and Senior championships.  Both tournaments will be 3 days events, but the divisions should play from different sets of tees.

These changes will be in effect beginning in 2014 and the Tournament will consist of two divisions, The Open Division and The Legends Division. Players 50 years of age or older are automatically entered in the Legends Division, unless they are eligible to play and elect to play in the Open Division by virtue of exemption or successful qualification.

The Open field is limited to 48 players and will be cut to low 24 and ties; and anyone within 10 shots of the lead for the final day of competition.  Players 50 years of age or older can elect to play in the Open Division if they meet qualification requirements.  The Open Division Champion will receive the Joe Hart Trophy sponsored by The Saginaw News and will be recognized as the District Champion.

The low scoring player 50 years of age or over playing in the Open Division will receive the Fred Martin, Jr. Trophy that will be sponsored by Review Magazine, and will be recognized as the Senior Champion. If no Open Division player over the age of 50 makes the cut, the 2 round totals will determine the Senior Champion, with ties decided by playoff.

Riding carts may not be used by Open Division players and exceptions will require a written medically verified disability. There will be 24 exempt players in the Open Division and if a player is eligible for exemption in the Open Division and is 50 years of age or older, he may elect to play in the Open Division or the Legends Division, but not both. If the player elects to play in the Open Division, he is eligible for both the Fred Martin, Jr. Trophy and the Joe Hart Trophy.

The Legends Division field is limited to 24 players who are 50 years of age or older as of the first day of the Tournament. Such players are automatically entered in this division unless they are eligible to play and elect to play in the Open Division by virtue of exemption or successful qualification. The field will be cut to low 12 and ties and anyone within 10 shots of the lead for the final day of competition. The Legends Division Champion will receive the Ron Stelter Trophy and is recognized as the Legends Champion.  Legends Division players may use riding carts and the course will play fro tees targeted not to exceed 6300 yards.

It gives me an immense sense of pleasure to sponsorthe Fred Martin, Jr. Senior Division Trophy through the auspices of my publication, Review Magazine.  And it also affords a special symmetry.

My father was a remarkable man for many reasons and he held an intense passion for celebrating all the characteristics and values that the game of golf represents: precision, discipline, sportsmanship, and the simple indelible joy that is derived from completing an excellent round. 

But what he truly loved about the game was that it didn’t discriminate in terms of testing one’s levels of accomplishment. Through this sponsorship and the continuation of this pivotal tournament, those values can be carried forward throughout the community; and in the process, touch future generations for years to come.

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