FARMINGTON HILLS – Laura Bavaird, the Golf Association of Michigan’s director of member relations since April, understands the list of membership benefits from multiple angles.
Over the years she has benefitted from them as a GAM golf member through her family’s golf club (Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club), as an amateur and professional competitor in tournaments, as an employee of a private club in Michigan (TPC Michigan) and currently as an employee of the association.
“You really can’t go wrong by being a GAM member, whether as an individual or through a club, and whether as a tournament player or somebody just out to have fun in the game,” she said in announcing that sign-up and renewal for GAM Membership is open at GAM.org.
“The GAM is here to serve and grow the game, a game that we all love. There are a lot of people who join because they need the handicap service and don’t realize what else they get. The list of benefits is a lot longer than just the necessary GAM/GHIN handicap.”
Bavaird’s background and knowledge in golf is not that of the average person.
She is a former two-time Michigan Women’s Amateur champion (2007, ’08) and played in multiple GAM tournaments as a junior golfer and through her college years. She was a Miss Golf in Michigan as a senior at Grosse Ile High School in 2004, played collegiate golf at Western Michigan University, was a three-time collegiate tournament winner and in 2008 was the Mid-American Conference Sportswoman of the Year.
She turned professional following college and played four years on the Symetra Tour. Her lone professional win was the Canadian PGA Women’s Championship in 2010, and that earned her a slot in her one LPGA tournament in Montreal.
“I gave professional golf four good years, treating it like high school and college, went through the growing pains and learned what it really meant to be a touring professional,” she said. “I’ve always had a passion for business and understanding business and I was able to take my background in golf and shift to the operational side of the game. It was a perfect transformation for me.”
Bavaird started in the assistant golf professional ranks and worked her way up to head golf professional at Lochmere Golf Club in Cary, N.C. As part of a ClubCorp operation, she transferred to TPC Michigan in Dearborn and served as the membership director there until last spring before joining the GAM.
Chris Whitten, executive director of the GAM, calls the 34-year-old Bavaird a homerun-hire for the association and its members.
“Laura is someone I’ve known of for a long time but didn’t have an opportunity to spend time with her until an opening on our team became available,” he said. “As I learned about her background more and more it was clear she was a good fit in every possible way.”
Bavaird is concentrating first on renewals of membership.
“This way there is no disruption to the benefits they receive, and in the spring when they are ready to play again all of their GAM/GHIN handicap index requirements have been taken care of for the year,” she said.
Bavaird was elated to see that despite the pandemic challenges, golf rounds played increased around the country and GAM member clubs have reported a great summer for play and the welcoming of new golfers to public and private facilities.
“We want to make sure any new golfers or people who came back to golf can add even more to their experience by being a GAM member,” she said.
Bavaird looks forward to meeting the people at member clubs and finding ways to build GAM membership in a post-pandemic golf world.
“Getting face-to-face with people at a golf course, I’m really looking forward to that,” she said. “It’s a much better way to share the message of golf in our great state and how a GAM membership ties into that.”
Learn more about GAM membership via the pulldown at GAM.org.
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/12/16/seasoned-player-laura-bavaird-leads-gam-membership-effort/