Results of 2017 Belvedere Hickory Open

Lefty from Missouri tames renovated Belvedere course

June 19 – Charlevoix, Mich.

Bill “Ernie” Ernst from Neenah, Wisc., did his best, but could not overcome a first round four-shot deficit thrown up by lefty Zach Kratofil of St. Louis, Mo. The strapping young man from Missouri mixed towering drives with accurate approaches and deft putting to take the 2017 Open division by two strokes, 151 to Ernst’s 153.

“I was happy with my play, but Zach is just a solid player,” Ernst said. “If I had been able to push him earlier maybe I could have caught him, but five strokes over the final nine holes was just too much to make up.”

Kratofil was unavailable for comment following the round, but host pro Marty Joy echoed Ernst’s thoughts. “Zach was relentless. Ernie gave him a challenge through most of the round. By the time we made the turn, it was clear that Fred [Muller, pro at Crystal Downs in Frankfurt, Mich.] and I were playing for third and fourth.”

Other than the competition between top players, most players were keen to seen the renovations done to the course following the chance discovery of architect William Watson’s original plans. These were found during the renovation of a house in Charlevoix. They had lain in a corner of an office, untouched, these many decades after the course was built in 1925. The new “tweaks” were put in place over the past fall.

All the greens have been enlarged as a newly mown collar around the circumference of each attests. That, says Joy, will allow for additional pin placements on several greens when grass in the expanded areas grows in. As well, extra bunkers were laid here and there around the course. It was still the Belvedere with generous fairways and some very tricky greens, but with an overall sense that “something” had been done, if subtly and without an overbearing hand.

The Chicago Club again hosted the Thursday evening soireé. Founded in 1881, this venerable association of old and historic vacation homes have been in the same families for many years. The grand clubhouse with its long veranda overlooks a spacious lawn and tennis courts with Lake Charlevoix in the distance. A beautiful spot for a refreshing glass, delicious food, and good company.

Gloomy weather threatened, but for a brief shower on Saturday morning, stayed out of the area. One of the highlights of the 2017 Belvedere Hickory Open was a strong field of seven ladies, perhaps the strongest field in the country. We ardently wish for more women players of their grace and elegance to enter hickory golf tournaments around the land.

From the first tee shot off that high bluff to the last putt on the rippling 18th green, the grand old course was a treat. With good friends in accompaniment and through laughs, tears, and a smattering of strong language, golf in the traditional way was king for the weekend.

As always, our hosts at the Belvedere Club were gracious and friendly, showing why this hickory open among the many contested in the land, far and away sets a standard of enjoyment combined with golfing challenges that cannot be topped.

Chuck McMullin won the Super Senior division with 156.
(Chuck, by the way, was tapped no less than twice for interviews on hickory golf at the Belvedere Hickory Open. Click here for the first. Click here for the second.)

Charles Mitchell the Super Senior net with 134.

Howard Vogel was the Senior winner with 160

John Cova that Senior net winner with 142.

Zach Kratofil the Open winner at 151.

Ernie Ernst the Open net winner at 141.

For the ladies, Kate Tomkinson won the division with 185.

Sue Hays took the Ladies net title with 145.

Click here for a PDF of the entire results.

The final foursome at the 2017 Belvedere Hickory Open. Ernie Ernst (2014 BHO champion), left, Fred Muller (2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011 BHO champ), Marty Joy (2012 and 2013 BHO champ), and Zach Kratofil, the 2017 Belvedere Hickory Open champion. In their midst is an early sand tee “caddy”, complete with water bucket.

Steve Braun, current president of the Golf Association of Michigan, did the honors as the official “announcer” on the first tee.

Kate Tomlinson, Mary Jean Esselman, and Donna Kuhn were part of the strong Ladies Division.

Sue Hays and Kris Ellington on the first tee.

Typical of the entire field was this trio of handsome and beaming gentlemen. Doug Kuhn, left, Ross Hays, and Hugh Cameron.