CHEBOYGAN – Earl Parsons knows what it takes to win the Northern Michigan Open.
So does his son, Kyle, who triumphed not too long ago.
On Wednesday, with only a few days before the 75th version of the highly-popular local golf tournament is set to begin, the father-son combo was working together out at the Cheboygan Golf & Country Club course, getting things ready for what should be another fun event.
Whether you’re Earl, who won the Championship Flight in 2001, or Kyle, the 2019 champion, it doesn’t really matter. The excitement is always there for a tournament that’s continued to grow every single year.
“It’s such a fun tournament, people have built lots of great relationships with the golfers over the years, so it’s one of these tournaments that you want to get in it, you want to be a part of it, you want to have a chance to win one of the flights, and you get to see a lot of old people that you don’t see year-round,” said Earl, president of the Cheboygan Golf & Country Club. “First of all, (course superintendent) Jeff Mushlock does a great job. Our course is in great shape again this year, our greens, they’re stand-alone here in the north. They’re some of the best greens in the north, and everybody just likes to see old friends.”
As for Kyle, who actually resides in Florida, he always looks forward to making the trip back up north for the huge event – and not just for golf reasons.
“The reason I come up for this tournament is basically camaraderie, seeing people that you see once a year,” said Kyle. “It’s a good time, everybody’s friendly. It’s just a good tournament to be around.”
This year’s Open celebrates 75 years of what’s been a thrilling and entertaining competition that’s featured several local winners, many state-of-Michigan victors, and in last year’s case, a Canadian in Nathan Kraynyk, a current Ferris State University men’s player who won the title by one stroke last August. Kraynyk is expected to defend his championship this weekend, while Cheboygan’s Joe Kosanke (1998, 2004, 2010) and Indian River’s Jon Micoff (2009, 2011, 2017), a pair of three-time winners, are also vying for the title, as well as Cheboygan’s Kasey Hocquard, who won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008, and Justin Brandt, who earned the 2016 title.
Unfortunately, not in the field for this year’s Open, is PJ Maybank III – a Cheboygan native and current University of Oklahoma men’s golf commit – who recently battled an injury he suffered during a tournament played earlier this summer. While Maybank’s now close to 100 percent, he won’t be playing on Saturday and Sunday.
When it comes to winning the Open, the younger Parsons knows what’s required.
“Patience,” Kyle said. “Coming into Sunday, figuring out where you were at, and coming down the stretch is pretty tough in tournament situations.”
The Open has become such a popular event in Cheboygan that all 200 spots for it were filled all the way back in January.
In terms of the event itself, it’s not just the golfers who are enjoying themselves out on a quality course. It's also the spectators who have gotten great views of the excitement down the stretch over the years.
“I think what (Cheboygan Golf & Country Club manager) Olwyn (Hancock) does on the inside, everybody is well taken care of,” Earl Parsons said. “We have a good area to watch. You can watch No. 18, you can watch No. 9, so we have good viewing areas to watch, and there’s just some good players here. Even the lower flights, everybody’s excited to watch them come in.
“You’re coming down that 18th hole, and if you’re in the mix for any of the flights – Championship, any of them – there’s nerves.”
With plenty of locals, as well as a great youth movement being formed in recent years, the Open is as big as ever. And with the Cheboygan Golf & Country Club celebrating the 100th year of its course this weekend, everyone’s expecting another memorable Open.
“We keep getting these younger and younger kids every year, so we hope that they’re all back,” Earl Parsons said. “The weather looks great, so it should be another good tournament. We always try to keep that trophy local, but these young kids are good.
“We just want everyone to have a good time. It brings a lot of money into our community, motel-wise, restaurant-wise. It’s just a great event for the town of Cheboygan.”
As Kyle finished helping his father with the course on Wednesday afternoon, he was asked what it would mean to win another Open title.
His answer was short, sweet and family related.
“It would mean a lot,” Kyle said. “It would mean one-up on the big guy, but we’ll see what we can do and we’ll have fun this weekend.”
Tournament festivities begin on Friday night when the Country Club hosts the annual long drive contest at 5 p.m. On Saturday, the Open will get started with tee times slated for 7 a.m., with play expected to last until around 3 p.m. In addition to the Championship Flight, there will be several other flights in the tournament this weekend.
Northern Michigan Open Past Champions
1938 – Jim Duffina, Mackinac Island
1939 – Bill Stewart, Walloon Lake
1950 – Ed Karcheski, Traverse City
1951 – Ed Karcheski, Traverse City
1952 – Ed Karcheski, Traverse City
1953 – Ed Karcheski, Traverse City
1954 – Ed Karcheski, Traverse City
1955 – Gordon Carlson, Cadillac
1956 – Ed Karcheski, Traverse City
1957 – Jim Romar, Petoskey/Bay View
1958 – Gordon Carlson, Cadillac
1959 – Tal Smith, Fremont, California
1960 – Bill Newton, Ann Arbor
1961 – Mickey McMillen, Midland
1962 – Mickey McMillen, Midland
1963 – Tom Beall, Texas
1964 – Howard Nelson, Cheboygan
1965 – Bob Bolten, Alpena
1966 – Mickey McMillen, Midland
1967 – Mickey McMillen, Midland
1968 – Ben Smith, Detroit & Mullett Lake
1969 – Tom Clark, Ann Arbor
1970 – Larry Mancour, Flint
1971 – Charles Furtaw, Oscoda
1972 – Lynn Janson, East Lansing
1973 – Mike Husby, East Lansing
1974 – Gary Domagalski, East Lansing
1975 – George Zollner, Marshall
1976 – Gary Domagalski, East Lansing
1977 – Barry Dean, St. Johns
1978 – Gary Becker, St. Johns
1979 – Howard Nelson, Cheboygan
1980 – Fred Stabley, Lansing
1981 – Robert Langenberg, Bay City
1982 – Jerry Bush, Petoskey
1983 – Peter Green, Orchard Lake
1984 – Barry Dean, St. Johns
1985 – Jerry Bush, Petoskey
1986 – Brian Lewis, Okemos
1987 – Jim Donahue, East Lansing
1988 – Jack Boman, Lansing
1989 – Chuck Gronda, Cheboygan
1990 – Chuck Gronda, Cheboygan
1991 – John Lindeman, Cheboygan
1992 – Roger Sova, Cheboygan
1993 – Tony Pelligrino, Detroit
1994 – Chuck Gronda, Cheboygan
1995 – Kim Hocquard, Cheboygan
1996 – Mark Sauger, Florida
1997 – Mark Sauger, Florida
1998 – Joe Kosanke, Cheboygan
1999 – Phil Marston, Concord
2000 – Todd Marston, Concord
2001 – Earl Parsons, Cheboygan
2002 – Tony Ingersoll, Cheboygan
2003 – Justin Tulk, Cheboygan
2004 – Joe Kosanke, Cheboygan
2005 – Mark Beuby, Harbor Springs
2006 – Todd Marston, Concord
2007 – Kasey Hocquard, Cheboygan
2008 – Kasey Hocquard, Cheboygan
2009 – Jon Micoff, Indian River
2010 – Joe Kosanke, Cheboygan
2011 – Jon Micoff, Indian
2012 – Brian O'Neill, Harbor Springs
2013 – Brian O'Neill, Harbor Springs
2014 – Rob Lussenhop, Brimley
2015 – Mike Gillette, Florida
2016 – Justin Brandt, Cheboygan
2017 – Jon Micoff, Indian River
2018 – Owen Beyer, DeWitt
2019 – Kyle Parsons, Florida
2020 – Brett Green, Parrington
2021 – Nathan Kraynyk, Canada
This article originally appeared on Cheboygan Daily Tribune: 75th Northern Michigan Open to take place on Saturday, Sunday