Local Sports Journal

SPRING LAKE — Defending champion Britni Gielow is expected to be one of 61 competitors playing Monday in the qualifying round of the 93rd running of the Spring Lake Women’s Golf Invitational.

Gielow, 19, is a former Mona Shores prep star and now a Hope College student. She will play in the first qualifying group starting on the first tee at 8:15 a.m. at Spring Lake Country Club Monday. As the defending champion, Gielow is automatically seeded into the championship flight of the match play tournament.

Among the other players trying for championship flight spots is Michigan State University golfer Jenny Sritragul who is from Thailand. She is coming off an injury during her junior season.

Other notable players include Maureen Whitehead, of Charlevoix, who won the Spring Lake tournament in 2010, and Donna Benford. Benford, 54, from Linden, has won the last two Golf Association of Michigan Women’s Senior Open tournaments.

In last year’s championship match, Gielow rallied to turn back former Michigan State University golfer Joan Garety, of Grand Rapids, 4 and 2.

After the qualifing round Monday, the players will be seeded into flights for the start of match play Tuesday.

The championship flight players are expected to tee off between 8:39 and 9 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. The championship match in that flight is expected to be played Thursday with a starting time in the 9:15-9:30 a.m. range.

The Spring Lake tournament remains a highly regarded event in women’s golf circles. It started as the Spring Lake Women’s Open in 1919 and later changed names to its present Spring Lake Women’s Invitational Tournament. The tournament remains a popular event although the course did not host the event during the World War II years of 1943-1945.

Gielow played college golf at Grand Valley State University last spring, but she has opted to enroll at Hope since then, according to a family member.