BY DENNIS CHASE firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Andrew Chapman thought Grand Traverse Resort and Spa golf pro Scott Hebert was "crazy."
"He said, 'Kids help you play better,'" Chapman recalled. "He told me that as soon as the boys were born. I thought he was crazy. But he was absolutely right."
Chapman's wife, Brooke, gave birth to twin boys seven months ago.
Over the weekend, the 33-year-old Chapman celebrated one of his crowning achievements in golf — the Traverse City financial advisor won the 102nd Michigan Amateur at the Muskgeon Country Club.
He edged Mike Ignasiak on the 18th hole of the championship match when he sank a 20-foot birdie putt. It was the only shot of the entire tournament — 147 holes in five days — that Brooke and sons Graeme and Lincoln saw.
"They were in the clubhouse," Chapman said. "We didn't want to take the boys out in case they started fussing during someone's back swing.
"I saw my wife walking down from the clubhouse holding one of the boys, while a woman from Muskegon was walking with her holding the other boy. At Muskegon, the clubhouse is about 100 yards from the 18th green. But I could see them walking down before I hit my putt. That just gave me a little extra boost to get the read right and stroke a good putt. They got to see it go in, and then hear the crowd reaction, which was pretty neat."
Chapman didn't have time to celebrate, though. Ignasiak had a putt for birdie, too.
"Mike had a putt on almost the exact same line inside of me to tie," Chapman said. "It was a bit of a tricky putt because most of the break was early on and then it was very straight after that. I figured he and his caddie had gotten a good look at mine. Quite frankly, I expected he would make it and that we would go to sudden death."
At the time, Ignasiak had seized the momentum, wiping out a two-shot deficit by winning holes 16 and 17.
"First in with a birdie in match play is never a bad spot to be sitting, especially when a guy's got to make a putt to tie you," Chapman said. "That put the pressure back on him. It was a huge momentum switch because he was definitely in the driver's seat up until that point."
Ignasiak's 18-foot putt went just right of the cup, giving Chapman the coveted title.
"It's a big thrill," he said. "It still hasn't hit me the trophy's mine for a year. It's great to be able to share it with the folks up here."
For Chapman, Saturday's triumph capped his amateur comeback. It was a comeback aided by Hebert, who helped Chapman rebuild his game and confidence.
"When I started working my way back into competitive amateur golf in 2009, 2010, I really had a lot of work to do on my game," Chapman, a former golfer at the University of Michigan, confessed.
"It felt like I was starting all over again. Golf has never been like a riding a bike for me. I have to work at it to stay consistent and competitive."
"We've worked on everything — short game, long game, swing mechanics, mental thought processes," Chapman said. "He's really been an invaluable resource for me the last three and a half years.
"I used to do some things in my swings, specifically, that I could get away with when I was younger and playing every day. But sitting in an office most of the week, and playing on weekends, I had to make some changes just to play consistently well without practicing as much. He helped me re-work my game from the ground up. We started from scratch with fundamentals."
Hebert deflects the praise.
"It's easy to work with a guy that is that good to start with," he said.
Hebert said a key was when Chapman became a father.
"It really put an emphasis on his practices," Hebert said, "to focus when he was there, to get his work done so he could go home and spend time with his wife and kids. That balance in life really helps a player. It made him a more focused player."
Chapman agrees, saying "tight" time frames forced him to concentrate more on the task at hand.
Hebert, who is in Oregon this week competing in the PGA Professional National Championship, followed Chapman's Amateur week on the internet.
"That's something special," he said of the title.
En route to winning the crown, Chapman had to beat Tom Werkmeister, who had won the Michigan Open the week prior. He did that in 21 holes, after letting a lead on 18 get away.
"That truly was the key to get through (to the finals)," Hebert said, "to beat arguably the hottest player in Michigan. Then, to bounce back after having trouble on 18, really showed where his head was at on the golf course. "