Hitting the Links

GVL / Bo Anderson

PGA Tour Pro Mike Sullivan at the Meadows.

Bo Anderson

GVL / Bo Anderson PGA Tour Pro Mike Sullivan at the Meadows.

Brady Fredericksen

Growing up, Mike Sullivan’s first love was the on the ice.

A hockey player in his youth, the new Director of Instruction of the Kendall Academy at The Meadows golf club actually didn’t pick up the game he now teaches until the 10th grade.

Despite his frozen roots, Sullivan, 51, has since taken to golf and proven that even a once self-proclaimed “hack” can mold their game and become an instructor.

“There’s time’s when (golf) appears to be frustrating to people, but it doesn’t need to be,” Sullivan said. “Golf is about fun, you can do it your entire life. What you can learn through instruction is a huge eye opener to take that frustration out of the game.”

The Ferris State University graduate brings a degree in professional golf management along with 37 years of playing experience to the position. Although his focus is primarily with patrons of The Meadows, Sullivan also boasts a relationship with current GVSU men’s golf coach Don Underwood.

“I’ve gotten to know (Mike) better since he’s been here, but I have known Mike for quite a while and think he’ll do a wonderful job,” Underwood said. “This has been a place where people come to learn the game of golf, practice the game of golf and come on the course and enjoy the game of golf — I think Mike will help continue that.”

In terms of the course itself, The Meadows ranks as the No. 22 college golf course in the nation, according to the magazine Links, and has hosted a combined seven men’s and women’s NCAA Division II Championships.

Prior to his arrival at The Meadows earlier this month, Sullivan worked at both Island Hills Golf Club in Centreville, Mich., and worked as a part of the Kendall Academy at Gull Lake View Golf Club in Augusta, Mich.

That Kendall Academy works as an organization designed for golf instruction. This will be Sullivan’s second go-around with the Kendall Academy and that, along with The Meadows’ reputation, was a big reason for his career move.

“Through the years we’ve had a long history of the top instructional groups coming into our facilities to teach out of,” Underwood said. “The organization Mike represents has kind of emerged as the top teaching organization in the state for sure, so they’ve got some wonderful people teaching.”

It’s also about the people for Sullivan. The chance to work with patrons of the course and current GVSU students, helping to get that career-best score or perfect putt, is something exciting for him.

“It’s the youth in you … to watch somebody at that age make that first accomplishment in golf — whatever it might be — just to see that excitement in somebody is what’s rewarding about it,” Sullivan said. “It’s a game that you can just do forever.”

Sullivan and The Meadows are close to having everything up and running for the upcoming summer season with hopes of being ready around April 10, and Sullivan is ready to get on the course.

“We really want to grow the program,” Sullivan said. “Hopefully, we are able to get enough interest that people are coming from the Grand Rapids’ surrounding area to create programs other than just private instruction. Hopefully we’re able to grow the numbers, which will then just attract more people to The Meadows so they can enjoy the golf course across the street.”

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