NOPGA Kicks Off 2022 Season on Monday

The Northern Ohio Section of the Professional Golfers Association of America begins its 76th season of competition on Monday, kicking off a schedule that will extend non-stop through the middle of October.

A total of 38 tournaments will be held, highlighted by the Section’s 12 ‘major’ events, including the historic Ohio Open, which will be played for the 101st time. The eminent event of the year will be played June 27-29 over the Westfield Group Country Club’s North and South courses.

Included in the list of ‘majors’ are two junior tournaments.

The Ohio Open, the eminent event of the year, has been won by such notables as Jack Nicklaus (1956 as an amateur), Byron Nelson (1940-43), Tom Weiskopf (1965) and Herman Keiser (1949).

The 2022 season starts Monday (April 11) with a new event. The Spring Thaw Shamble will be played for the first time at Chippewa Golf Club in Doylestown.

The major events include:

The 37th Ohio Senior Open (June 1-2)

The 101st Ohio Open Championship, (June 27-29)

The 37th Senior Professional Championship (August 18-19)

The Second Ladies Professional Championship (August 22-23)

The 72d Professional Championship (August 22-24)

The 52d Assistants Championship (September 6)

The 92d Toledo Open (September 12-13)

The 20th Mitchell-Haskell Tour Championship (September 19-20)

The 26th Ohio Cup Matches (October 4-5)

The 47th Denny Shute Memorial Match Play Championship (October 17-19).

The Ohio Open, the eminent event of the year, has been won by such notables as Jack Nicklaus (1956 as an amateur), Byron Nelson (1940-43), Tom Weiskopf (1965) and Herman Keiser (1949).

The Section does not limit itself to conducting events for its member professionals. The Junior program is robust with 34 events, including eight 9-hole tournaments on the “Futures Tour” (for players 8-years-old and above) and 26 events of either 18 or 36 holes on the “Junior Series” (for more experienced players under the age of 19). It also holds three tournaments for collegiate players.

In all, the Section will conduct 75 events throughout the summer and early fall. In addition to the major events, there will be more than 20 weekly events.

The 47th Junior PGA Section Championship and the 39th Kenny Novak Junior Tour Championship highlight the junior schedule. The Junior PGA Section Championship will be held June 6-7 at Westfield and Portage Country Club. The Kenny Novak Junior Tour Championship will be played July 26-27 at Club Walden.

Here is a summary of the NOPGA’s key events on the 2022 schedule, including highlights from 2021, in chronological order.


June 1-2
Firestone Country Club, Fazio Course, Akron
Reigning champion: Bob Sowards (Dublin)

2021 DETAILS: Sowards, the Director of Instruction at Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club, joined former Canton Brookside Professional and NOPGA Hall-of-Famer Jim Logue as the only men to win three consecutive Senior Open titles when his 36-hole total of 65-68—133 (7-under) gave him a 7-shot victory over three-time champion Rob Moss (Pepper Pike CC, 72-68) and amateurs Dr. Jeff Mallette (North Canton, 72-68) and Michael Kelly (Westerville, 69-71) in a rain-plagued event. Sowards, 52, made just one bogey over the two days and earned $2,500. Former Canton Brookside Director of Golf and NOPGA Hall-of-Famer Gary Robison still holds the record for most Senior Open titles with four (2004, 2010, 2015, 2018).

June 6-7
Westfield Group Country Club, Westfield Center; Portage Country Club, Akron
Reigning champions: Ryan Pamer (Hudson), Madison Reemsnyder (Canton).

2021 DETAILS: At Portage, champions Ryan Pamer (Boys 16-18) and Madison Reemsnyder (Girls 16-18), as well as runnersup Topher Reed (Fairview Park) and Avery Wright (North Canton), advanced to the PGA of America’s Junior Championships at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., as a result of their play. Pamer had rounds of 68-67 for a 5-under 135 and a 2-shot win. Reemsnyder shot 71-69 for a 2-under 140 and a 7-shot victory. The event will be split in 2022 with the first round at Westfield and the finals at Portage.

June 27-29
Westfield Group Country Club North and South Courses, Westfield Center
Reigning champion: Jake McBride (Uniontown).

2021 DETAILS: Ohio’s most prestigious championship returned to a renovated Westfield for the first time in five years and ended dramatically when McBride rolled in a 15-fot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to edge Canal Fulton’s Justin Lower. The historic 100th event was shortened to 36 holes from the customary 54 because of inclement weather. McBride, a North Carolina State graduate, and Lower, a former Division II All-American at Malone University and a two-time Ohio Open winner, finished regulation play tied at 11-under 129. In winning his first professional title, McBride opened with an 8-under 62, the low 18 of the tournament and the second-lowest round ever played in Opens contested at Westfield. Cade Breitenstine, of Green and a member of the Kent State team, and Bryce Haney, of Huber Heights and a member of the Wright State team, shared low amateur honors at 7-under 133. PGA Hall-of-Famers Denny Shute (1929, 1930, 1931, 1950) and Billy Burke (1938, 1939, 1945, 1955) share the record for most Ohio Open championships.

July 26-27
Club Walden
Reigning champions: Michael Lee (Strongsville), Chris Pollak (Aurora), Mary Kelly Mulcahy (Lima), Natalie Kostalnick (Strongsville).

2021 DETAILS: Lee won the Boys 16-19 title with a two-hole playoff victory over Massillon’s Jordan Kish. Pollak shot a 4-under 68 in the final round to prevail by a whopping nine shots in the Boys 11-15 Division. Mulcahy scored a one-shot victory in the Girls 16-19 Division with rounds of 73-72-145. Kostalnick rallied from a 3-shot deficit to a 2-shot victory in the Girls 11-15 Division with rounds of 85-74-159.

August 18-19
Westbrook Country Club, Mansfield
Reigning champion: Gary Rusnak, 1899 Golf Cleveland East

2021 DETAILS: Playing bogey-free golf over 36 holes, Rusnak posted rounds of 66-69 for a 7-under 135 and a two-stroke victory over Rob Moss (Pepper Pike CC, 69-68) at Lakewood Country Club. The event for players 50-and-over moves to Westbrook in 2022. The victory, worth $1,200, was Rusnak’s first in this event and propelled the Painesville native and instructor at 1899 Golf Cleveland East to his first Senior Player-of-the-Year Award. Rusnak, Moss and Mitch Camp (Club Walden, 68-70) and Tom Atchison (Salem CC, 69-71) all qualified for the PGA’s Senior Professional Championship at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

August 22-24
Westfield Country Club, Westfield Center
Reigning champion: Jim Troy, Honma Golf

2021 DETAILS: Troy, territory sales manager for Honma Golf,  extinguished three years of frustrating runnerup finishes in this event when he endured several weather interruptions and rallied from a 3-shot deficit at Beechmont Country Club. Troy’s rounds of 75-68-69 gave him a total of 1-under 212 and a one-shot victory over Cory Kumpf (Canton Brookside, 74-72-67). The event moves to Westfield in 2022. The victory, worth $3,000, qualified Troy to the 55th annual PGA Professional National Championship at the Omni Barton Creek Club in Austin, Texas. It also was a major reason why Troy earned his second straight and third overall Player-of-the-Year Award since 2018. He was joined by Kumpf, Nathan Desens (Inverness CC, 75-70-69), Milton Carswell (Stone Oak CC, 71-71-72) and Gary Rusnak (1899 Golf East, 68-73-73) in qualifying for the national. The 4-under 67 by Kumpf, director of golf at Brookside, was the best round of the tournament and came when he birdied five holes in an eight-hole stretch.

August 22-23
Westfield Group Country Club, Westfield Center
Reigning champion: Mary Suitca, Tannenhauf Golf Club

2021 DETAILS: In the inaugural event at Lakewood Country Club, Suitca fired rounds of 74-73 for a 5-over 147 and a five-shot victory. The event will have a new venue and date in 2022, moving to Westfield to be held in conjunction with the men’s Professional Championship. Suitca, who doubles as the assistant women’s coach at Malone University, entered the final round one shot out of the lead but rallied by shooting even-par on her final nine holes and finishing with 13 pars and two birdies.

September 6
Mayfield Sand Ridge Club
Reigning champion: Michael Balcar, Brandywine Country Club

2021 DETAILS: Balcar, a Toledo native and Cleveland State graduate, might have won the 36-hole tournament at Weymouth when he opened with a 6-under 66 while no one else managed to break 70. Balcar, 28, added a one-over 73 in the second round for a 5-under 139 and a 4-shot victory over Westfield’s Darin de Lelys. Balcar’s 66 was the only round in the 60s over the two days. Both men qualified for the 45th annual National Car Rental Assistant Championship on the PGA Golf Club’s Wannamaker Course in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

September 12-13
Stone Oak Country Club, Holland
Reigning champions: Berend Botha, George, South Africa; Mitch Camp (Club Walden).

2021 DETAILS: Camp won the Senior Division with a birdie on the first playoff hole to edge fellow NOPGA member Gary Rusnak after both had finished regulation play tied at 5-under 137. NOPGA members dominated the leader board in both divisions as Jake Scott (Elyria CC) and New Philadelphia’s Blake Sattler tied for second in the Regular Division behind Botha, a member of the University of Toledo team. In the Seniors, Tony Adcock (Seven Hills) was third, Steve Stone (McDivitt Driving Range) was fourth, Gary Robison (NOPGA HOF) was fifth, Steve Parker (Portage CC) was sixth and Tony Milam (North Coast Jr. Tour) was eighth.

September 19-20
Brookside Country Club, Canton
Reigning champions: Jim Troy (Honma Golf); Steve Parker (Portage Country Club).

2021 DETAILS: Jim Troy and Steve Parker were the only players in either field to break par and went on to win their respective divisions in the 36-hole event that moves to Brookside in 2022 after being contested at The Country Club in 2021. Troy, who would go on to win the NOPGA Player-of-the-Year Award, won the Regular Division with rounds of 69-70 for a 5-under 139 and a 5-stroke victory over Randy Dietz (Windmill Golf Center, 71-73) and Rob Moss (Pepper Pike, 69-75). Parker, who was President of the NOPGA Section, won the Senior Division by three shots – and snapped a two-year run as the tournament runnerup — with rounds of 70-71 for a 3-under 141. Salem Golf Club’s Tom Atchison and Rob Moss, who competed in both divisions, shared second place at 144.

October 4-5
Barrington Golf Club, Aurora
Reigning champion: Southern Ohio PGA

2021 DETAILS: The Southern Ohio Section snapped the NOPGA’s five-year winning streak with an 18-14 victory at the Pinnacle Golf Club in Grove City. With its alternating venue rotation, the Ryder Cup-like event will be played at Barrington Golf Club in 2022. The victory cut the Northern Ohio Section’s lead in the series to 15-9. NOPGA Hall-of-Famer Gary Robison will serve as captain, replacing fellow Hall-of-Famer Gary Trivisonno, who compiled a 3-1 record in his four years as captain. The SOPGA had an 8.5 to 7.5 lead after the four-ball and foursomes competitions and clinched the Cup by winning eight of the 16 singles matches to the NOPGA’s six with one tie and one incompletion when it became mathematically impossible for the North to rally.

October 17-19
Portage Country Club, Akron
Reigning champions: Drew Pierson (Shaker Heights CC), Rob Moss (Pepper Pike CC), Mark Scott Jr. (Canton Brookside).

2021 DETAILS: Named in honor of the native Cleveland who was a match-play marvel, the 2021 edition was the proving ground for Shaker Heights Director of Golf Drew Pierson and Canton Brookside Assistant Professional Mark Scott Jr. Each won their first NOPGA major with Pierson prevailing in the Championship Division and Scott winning the Apprentice Division. NOPGA veteran Rob Moss won the Senior Division for the second time in his distinguished career. All three won three matches, Pierson as an eighth-seed, Scott as the fourth-seed and Moss as the third-seed. Pierson and Scott advanced to the finals by defeating the top-seeded players in their respective divisions. The victory was especially satisfying for Pierson, who underwent microdiscetomy surgery on his back in 2020.

Tim is a Contributing Writer for the Northern Ohio PGA. Award-winning golf writer and sports reporter for the Plain Dealer, now retired. Contributor to the Akron Beacon Journal, Canton Repository, AP, other national publications.