Celebrating A Hundred Years of Fellowship and Friendly Competition

It was October 25th,, 1923 at Detroit Golf Club, day-two of back-to-back blustery days. Yet forty hearty golfers from clubs across Michigan were not about to miss out on something that would prove to be historic, especially since they had already paid their $10 entry fee.

As each player stepped to the first tee, he was required to announce his date of birth and confirm that he was entered in the correct age group-50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, or 70+. In this rainy, windy, individual stroke play championship Bert Hopper, the organization’s first President, visited the infamous ditch on #18 and lost the tournament by one stroke. Late on that second day of the two-day event, J.E. DuBois of Red Run, whose approach putt on the 18th had run through the valley to end up 12-feet past the cup, sank the tricky come-backer for a score of 182 (an admirable number considering the conditions) to claim the State Senior Championship, and in the process launch the Michigan Seniors Golf Association. H.A. Gilmore from Washtenaw, with a handicap of 29, had the lowest net total score of 171.

The Michigan Seniors was founded with nearly 100 members of at least fifty years of age. Bertrand Hopper of Kalamazoo is credited with being the father of the MSGA with an assist from A.V. Lee of the Detroit Golf Club. The motto adopted was:

“Once a senior, always a senior, sometimes venerable, but never aged.”

The original membership numbered one-hundred and the Charter Board of Governors represented twelve clubs: Kalamazoo Country Club, Detroit Golf Club, the Country Club of Detroit, Oakland Hills Country Club, Barton Hills Country Club. Flint Country Club, Washtenaw Country Club, Kent Country Club, Highlands Country Club, Lansing Golf Club, Bay City Country Club, and St Joseph Country Club.

Today, one hundred years after our first event, on October 2, 2023 the Michigan Seniors will once again gather at the Detroit Golf Club for golf, dinner, and to permanently retire the 1923 trophy that now bears so many prominent names from Michigan’s rich golf history.
Also, this October, Al Hibbert (Birmingham Country Club) will step down after fifteen years as Executive Director and pass the gavel to Fred Adams Jr. (Orchard Lake). Poetically, Fred Adams is the son of the late Dr. Fritz Adams (pictured on the cover presiding in his Michigan Seniors tie and blazer). Fritz served as MSGA President in 1985-86, and as its Executive Director from 1987-2001.

So, what comes next? “God willing and the creek don’t rise, another century of “Fellowship and friendly competition on Michigan’s finest courses.” And what could be better than that!

Photo identification: Jim Standish, Jr.-MSGA President in 1949-50, a four-time Michigan Amateur Champion and two-time President of the U.S. Golf Association (pictured top-right, presenting the 1951 U.S. Open trophy to Ben Hogan at Oakland Hills); Tom Draper-winner of the North-South Amateur in 1965 and the U.S. Senior Amateur in 1971 (pictured bottom-right with one of his three Michigan Seniors Championship trophies); Dick McLear- a three-time Michigan Seniors champion (bottom-center); Dr. Fritz Adams, MSGA President 1985-86 and Executive Director 1987-2001. Others unidentified.