One way to see more of Michigan golf? GAM Golf Days

Greg Johnson
·3 min read

Cris and his wife Kriste Vocke own Cedar Creek Golf Club in Battle Creek and they also partner in the ownership at Riverside Golf Club and Banquet Center in Battle Creek where Justin Smith is general manager.

Not only do the Vockes and Smith make available and promote Golf Association of Michigan membership to their golfers, but they take it a step farther and take advantage themselves of one of the most popular GAM member benefits: GAM Golf Days.

“We are ambassadors of the game,” Cris said. “This is my 32nd season at (Cedar Creek) and I feel we should be promoting golf any way we can, so I tell people about the Golf Days, especially the ones who enjoy stroke play and competition with a good group of people.

“The Golf Days are well run and they are on great courses you wouldn’t get a chance to play otherwise, and we are blessed in Michigan to have such fabulous golf courses available through the GAM at more than fair prices.”

This year Cris, 60, and Justin, 28, are signed up with others to take on The Moors Golf Club in Portage, and Wabeek Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, two private clubs with sparkling reputations.

GAM Golf Days are scheduled throughout the summer at private and high-end courses and GAM members get to play on those days for special rates as low as $60. There’s even a special championship tournament day at the end of the season. See GAM.org to learn more.

“We’ve played The Moors before, at least a decade ago, but we’ve never played Wabeek,” Cris said. “We’re looking forward to playing the The Moors again. It was great before, and Wabeek will be a new adventure for us.”

Justin, who grew up in nearby Climax, said before he started taking advantage of Golf Days his golf was essentially limited to playing Cedar Creek where he learned the game and played in high school, and Riverside where he now works.

“I was working and when I did get out to play it was at Cedar or here,” he said. “It’s been fun to try the different courses. If kind of forces me to get out there and see other good golf around the state. We’ve been doing it a while now and I really enjoy it.”

He said he doesn’t push GAM benefits on his golf customers and members, but when asked most often about keeping a handicap index, he directs them to being GAM members and mentions the Golf Days, too.

“It’s easy to tell people about something you know you have enjoyed,” he said.

Cedar Creek opened in 1974 and was designed by Robert Beard, and Vocke purchased it from the original owners in 1989.

“It was under-maintained and a good opportunity for us,” Vocke said. “We fixed it up. Our superintendent Tim Hesselink has been with us 25 years and does an excellent job. We’re a local favorite, very affordable, we have a lot of leagues and a course that everybody can enjoy.”

Riverside was established as a golf course in 1926 and was a private club until 2011 when Vocke was approached by local businessmen who wanted to keep it a golf course.

“The club had gone through some hard times and the last thing Battle Creek needed was to see it shuttered,” he said. “It was in good shape. Bruce and Jerry Matthews, the father-son team, had renovated it about 1990 or so, but it just needed some polishing when we got it. It’s a really nice course and we made it public. It’s done really well and has the banquet center.”

Vocke, who already this spring carded his fifth career hole-in-one, said GAM members and others are welcome to visit the two courses in Battle Creek. Learn more about the two courses at cedargolfclub.com and bcriverside.com. He also said he urges all GAM members to give Golf Days a try.

“Michigan golf is great,” he said. “This is a way to get out and see more of it.”