Playing the final three holes of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational at the Midland Country Club is a daunting task.
Rubbing elbows with former LPGA Tour superstar Suzanne Pettersen and PGA Tour legend Corey Pavin while playing the par-3 18th? Another daunting task.
Special Olympics athletes from across Michigan had the opportunity to do both — and made the most of it.
Athletes played a three-hole, three-person scramble covering the par-4 16th, the par-4 17th and the par-3 18th. On the 18th tee, Pavin — currently on the PGA Champions Tour and a Dow ambassador — offered tips to the players, met with the players and their caddies, and looked on as the athletes hit their tee shots on the intimidating closing hole.
Fans around the golf course applauded the players as they hit each shot heading down the closing stretch for the LPGA Tour stars before taking group photos on the 18th green as the final group putted out.
Midland’s Adam White — a former Midland High football player and golfer before graduating in 2017 — said he loved the time on the course.
White said he hit his second shot from the right rough — by the cart path near the clubhouse — over the water surrounding the 18th green and knocked in the following putt for his team.
“I hit a great shot right here (on 18),” White said. “I had a lot of fun. … (Pavin and Pettersen) were both nice. It was a lot of fun.”
White’s father, Paul, said he was grateful to Dow for the chance to see his son shine on one of the biggest stages in professional golf.
“The whole experience was incredible,” Paul said. “It’s great for Dow to bring in an event like this and allow the opportunity to meet someone like Suzanne Pettersen and Corey Pavin. We would never have an opportunity to meet someone like that and interact with them (otherwise). It was just incredible.
“We’re so grateful we could represent Special Olympics and be here today. What an incredible experience.”
Pavin said he was proud to be a Dow ambassador and glad to have the opportunity to meet Special Olympics athletes and provide an avenue to include everyone and give the athletes an experience of a lifetime.
“It’s always awesome to be part of anything that helps people in any way,” Pavin said. “Special Olympics is special. It’s named appropriately. It embodies part of what Dow does, and they want to have events like this to support the community and support anyone they can.”
The strength of the community and the support of the tournament have been widely praised by the LPGA players. Pavin said he has been impressed with the GLBI and enjoyed hearing from the Special Olympics athletes.
“It’s always fun to meet people and talk to them and hear what they have to say about the tournament,” Pavin said. “Everything everyone says about the tournament is so positive. It’s such a strong community here — not just Midland, but the whole area. It’s nice to meet people and get to talk to them. That’s who’s being helped here. People gain a lot from what Dow does as a corporation.”