Spinal Column: August is the time to play, watch golf in Oakland County, beyond

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

With the arrival of August comes the time to celebrate one of American’s favorite pastimes. August is National Golf Month.

Golf in Michigan is special. We are home to more than 800 public golf courses and the fourth-highest number of courses in the nation. Time and again, we are considered one of the top states for playing the game.

This is no doubt due in large part to Michigan’s incredible natural resources — our woods and streams, hills and valleys, and of course our Great Lakes and sand dunes — which have helped create beautiful and award-winning golf courses throughout the state.

You can participate in National Golf Month in several ways. You may want to plan a golf trip with your friends. You could spend a week or more touring just one area of the state, playing the game.

I also encourage you to get out and play golf with your family. This may mean that you, or your kids, or your entire family, will first need to take lessons. It is remarkable what some instruction by a pro can do for your golf game. And the memories you make walking the golf course with your family will last a lifetime.

One of the premier golf courses in the nation is located right here in Oakland County: Oakland Hills Country Club. Oakland Hills, which turns 100 this year, has a rich and significant history.

The club’s first head professional was legendary golfer Walter Hagen, who was a five-time PGA Champion. The South Course at Oakland Hills is known as “The Monster” and has hosted 16 Major Championships. Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Gary Player — among the best to ever play the game — have all won on the South Course.

Like many of my fellow residents of Oakland County, I am delighted that the United States Golf Association has selected Oakland Hills Country Club as the site of the 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship, which will run beginning next week, from Monday, Aug. 15 through Sunday, Aug. 21.

The U.S. Amateur Championship, like similar major national sporting events, can produce considerable economic investment for the areas surrounding it. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission had been permitted to issue up to 40 special liquor licenses for certain sporting events. These special liquor licenses help ensure the success both of the events themselves and the myriad other tourism and promotional activities that accompany them.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Amateur Championship was not on the list of events for which the MLCC could issue a license. That is why I sponsored Senate Bill 901, now Public Act 180 of 2016. This law adds the U.S. Amateur Championship to this list.

SB 901 received overwhelming support in both the Senate and the House. My colleagues and I recognize the significance economic impact of the U.S. Amateur Championship to Oakland County and Southeast Michigan.

Take some time to watch the U.S. Amateur Championship next week. And take some time during National Golf Month to head outdoors and enjoy this wonderful game.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.