By Susan Smiley
(FARMINGTON HILLS, MI) – Golf Association of Michigan executive director David Graham announced he will retire effective June 30 of 2019. Graham will retire having been with GAM for 18 years, making him the longest tenured ED in the organization’s history.
He announced his plans to retire at the GAM Annual Meeting of Delegates at University of Michigan Golf Course on May 8.
“Over 17 years ago when I was hired as the executive director I described it as my dream job and, over all these years, it truly has been,” Graham said.
Graham came to the GAM in 2001 when the organization had experienced some financial turmoil. He was able to turn things around despite the 2008 recession and despite a nationwide downturn in golf participation.
“David started with the GAM some 17 years ago when the organization was struggling and deeply in debt,” outgoing GAM president John Barbour said. “The search committee then had the good sense to look outside the golf industry for a business executive with a strong marketing background. Today, the strength of the GAM is a testament to that decision, and to the leadership capabilities David has demonstrated.”
Barbour served as GAM president from May 2017 to May 8, when he passed the torch to Sara Wold. In remarks at the annual meeting, Wold praised Graham as a strong, dedicated leader who accomplished great things for Michigan golf.
“Replacing him will be very difficult, but he has shown us the type of leadership we need,” she said.
During his tenure, Graham has overseen a range of projects including new member benefits such as Swing and Save, the creation of GAM Golf Days, the development of Net Tournaments for the average competitive golfer, the building of many sponsor partnerships, technology upgrades in support of the website GAM.ORG, the implementation of the USGA GHIN Handicap System and Tournament Management software, and establishment of the 501 c 3 GAM Foundation.
The GAM Foundation funds the landmark Youth on Course program which allows young golfers to play for $5 or less at participating courses.
“Our finances are strong, our relationship with our members continues to be strengthened as their numbers continue to grow, and our Foundation is off to a wonderful start, particularly with the launch of the Youth on Course program,” Graham said. “The GAM is truly positioned to serve golf in Michigan and take the game to even greater levels of participation.”
For Barbour, Graham’s management of the GAM’s transition to the GHIN Handicap System is a prime example of his excellence as an ED.
“David and the GAM team successfully demonstrated expertise in many areas to the satisfaction of the USGA, and now the new relationship is much more formalized,” Barbour said. “This new status with the USGA will provide dividends to GAM members for years to come.”
Graham thanked the GAM staff and Board of Governors and complemented them on their hard work over the years. He said he was proud of the GAM’s ability to reach a broad range of Michigan residents, including men, women, juniors, and seniors and, of course, golfers of all abilities.
He stressed the importance of GAM partnerships with groups, including the Michigan Section PGA Professionals, the Michigan Golf Course Superintendents, Michigan Golf Course Owners Association, and the Western Golf Association.
“I have met so many fine people involved with the game of golf and I truly appreciate them all,” Graham said. “It is hard to believe how quickly the time has passed. We have succeeded on many fronts to place the GAM in a very stable situation. I look forward to working with our search committee to identify and hire the next GAM executive director, and I am committed to be available as requested to provide ongoing counsel and support. It has truly been a great adventure.”