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Niles’ Ecker to play in Michigan Women’s Amateur

Published 10:15pm Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ST. CLAIR — Britney Hamilton (Lake Orion / The Moors) will return to the 94th Michigan Women’s Amateur to defend her 2009 title.

The Michigan Women’s Amateur kicks off Monday at St. Clair River Country Club in St. Clair with two days (36 holes) of stroke play to determine the field of 32 golfers for match play. Match play rounds are played July 28-30.

Niles’ Elizabeth Ecker will be among the competitors.

Stephanie Bacon should be a hometown crowd favorite as she hails from St. Clair and is a member at St. Clair River CC.  Bacon graduated from St. Clair High School this spring. Hometown golfer Gayle Spinazze (St. Clair / Marysville GC) is also playing in the tournament for the first time.

Sibling rivalry could come into play when Shana, Ashley and Meagan Bauer (Grand Blanc) who all played for the University of Michigan last season,  take to the links.

“For years now we’ve all played in many of the same tournaments and on the same team,” said Ashley Bauer. “But most of those tournaments aren’t match play so I think it puts a different perspective on the Women’s Am. Knowing that we might end up facing each other at some point in the tournament would make for a really fun and competitive match.  We can’t control how the bracket shapes up and hopefully we would meet each other later rather than sooner, but that’s a long ways down the road and we’ve all have to play some really good golf to get to that point.”

Ashley was captain for the Wolverines this season and says it is easy to fall into that role when she is playing with her sisters too.

Not to mention that as the oldest Bauer, it just seems natural to take charge. But most of the time, the three sisters help each other and function as equals on the golf course.

“I think out of habit, I always have the older sister mentality and tried to help them as much as I can just from my experiences, although they don’t always listen.” said Bauer.  ” But on the course and in practice, all of us try to help each other out with different shots and strategies that we are better at.”

The Bauers don’t have the market cornered on sibling competition however. Emmie and Hannah Pietila (Brighton / Huntmore GC); Christine and Amy Meier (Rochester Hills / Cherry Creek); and Catherine and Jacqueline Benscoter (Metamora / Carl’s Golfland) are also competing.

Former champions Joan Garety (Ada / Egypt Valley) and Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll (Haslett / MSU Women’s Golf Coach) will also be competing this year. Garety won the tournament in 1997 at Black River and in 1982 at Tam O’Shanter. Slobodnik-Stoll was the champion in 1996 and 1998 at Egypt Valley and Boyne’s Alpine course respectively.

St. Clair Country Club was originally designed by Donald Ross with the addition of several new holes designed by Jerry Mathews  in recent years and should provide a challenge for the competitors. Play begins at 8 a.m. each day; spectators are welcome and there is no charge for admission.

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