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Posted on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

Official says canceling Ann Arbor women's amateur golf championship saved city $4,000

By Pete Cunningham


Four-time Ann Arbor women's amateur golf champion Sarah Hoffman won't have the opportunity to win a fifth straight city title this summer.

Jeffrey Smith | file

Canceling the Ann Arbor city women’s golf amateur championship was not a fun decision, but it was responsible one, according to Doug Kelly, director of golf for the city of Ann Arbor.

Kelly decided to cancel the annual tournament last Friday because only four women had registered. Last year the tournament drew 21 participants, and Kelly said the lowest he was willing to go was 18 - which would be sent off as six threesomes. When it became evident that number would not be reached, Kelly decided to pull the plug on the tournament, which was scheduled for July 27 and 28 at Leslie Park Golf Course.

“Ultimately, I have a fiscal responsibility to the city,” Kelly said. “I have to keep several hours blocked off for the tournament and that’s $176 per tee-time and on Saturdays and Sundays we normally fill them.”

Kelly said blocking off the tee-times with that low of a participation rate would have cost the city approximately $4,000.

“With only four people signed up for the tournament a week out, we needed to release the tee-times to the public,” Kelly said.

Kelly said last year’s tournament drew 21 golfers compared to 33, 24, 27 and 35 in the four years previous. He said 50-60 percent of golfers are normally registered a week ahead of time.

One of the women registered for this year’s tournament was former Grand Valley State All-America Sarah Hoffman, who has won the past four tournaments and was hoping to make it five straight.

“It kind of stinks, I was looking forward for a chance to defend my title,” said Hoffman. “It’s a really fun tournament and I was looking forward to it. It’s too bad.”

Hoffman said if the tournament is rescheduled, she’ll try to make it. Kelly said there’s no plan to reschedule the tournament later in the summer, but that he wouldn’t be opposed if there’s enough interest.

The tournament - which was first held in 1927 - is traditionally played near the end of June, but Leslie Park wasn't in tournament condition because of the Traver Creek Project. The streambank stabilization project was conducted on the portion of Traver Creek that goes through the golf course. The ceremonial opening of Leslie Park didn't take place until the weekend the tournament is normally held and Kelly said the course wasn't ready for tournament play at the time.

Kelly said the date change lost the tournament regulars right out of the gate.

“I had been talking to several of the normal ladies and they were apologetic because they had a bike trip planned,” Kelly said. “It was a scheduling conflict.”

Some, including Saline High School boys golf coach Debbie Williams-Hoak, have said the tournament wasn’t marketed well enough.

“The men’s we never seem to (have a problem),” said Kelly in response to the criticism. Last weekend’s men’s championship drew 111 golfers. “We posted on websites, there were movie-sized posters in the clubhouse here, Miles of Golf, Travis Pointe and other clubs around town and Miles of Golf sent an email blast.

“I’m not sure what more we could do, but I’m open to ideas.”

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

I still don't understand why the city is in the golf tournament business. Really, why should taxpayers be buying tee times for a golf tournament? It is bad enough that we lose millions of dollars by owning and operating a golf course.

E Claire

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

I can think of a lot of things we pay for that are much more senseless than golf courses. Ever try to get a Sat tee time at Leslie? That course is always full and brings people into AA, who may stay for dinner/drinks after. Golf gets people outside and moving.

Pete Cunningham

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

The golfers in the tournament still pay a fee to be in the tournament. Its just that tournament play is typically slower and a cushion has to be given before and after.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

What other event with 4 participants would people be crying about because it was cancelled?


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

Money always talks


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 12:20 a.m.

How about we eliminate the position of Director of Golf for the City of Ann Arbor. How much does that job pay?


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

Excellent question.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 3:05 a.m.

That's the spirit!


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

i have seen posters at Miles and Leslie. i think they got the same marketing as the men. Just was not enough to hold it. Maybe next year people will sign up sooner and get more players

Usual Suspect

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

Sorry, Ladies. Public art is more important.

E Claire

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

You sure about that Nicholas?

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

The public art benefits far more people, for a far longer period of time.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:51 a.m.

If it was important to the ladies more than 4 would have signed up!


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 6:58 p.m.

A more accurate headline would have been... Ann Arbor women's amateur golf championship cancelled due to low registration. The headline makes it look like the city was too cheap.

Pete Cunningham

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

This is a follow up story to the original cancellation story, which had a headline akin to what you are suggesting. The article is linked to in the opening graph of this story.

Linda Peck

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 6:58 p.m.

I agree with SemperFi, why couldn't the men's and women's events be advertised together? It seems odd that this was canceled, even for the $4000, which is a pittance compared to many other expenditures for parks and recreation.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

"With only four people signed up for the tournament a week out," WHAT is so complicated about no interest? This would have been a colossal waste of money! Did you sign up?


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:02 a.m.

Sometimes people make stuff harder then it should be.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

Huh, seems like they could have just kept a few tee times open and still had it. Do you have to pay to be in either of these tournaments? If not, I'm signing up next year.

Pete Cunningham

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

For a serious tourney with serious players you have to block off several spots ahead and behind so as to not disrupt the tournament or the other golfers on the course.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

I hope that the four ladies who registered for the tournament go out on their own and crown the champion. Why can't both mens & womens tourneys be advertised together? Same sanctioning body, same course, same format, different weekends.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:05 a.m.

Why not play both together. If the ladies group is small, how long would they take to play. They could play one-two holes back----oh oh, I see a big problem--who goes first, lol Ladies go first but then most come to see the guys play.