Longtime golf coach Jim Whitmer makes MIGCA Hall of Fame

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 10:00 am on Monday, April 01, 2013

Former Central Montcalm and Greenville golf coach Jim Whitmer, middle, was elected to the MIGCA Hall of Fame in March. Pictured with him is MIGCA executive director Gregg Kirchen and current Central Montcalm boys and girls golf coach Gary Buchholz. Buchholz was named the girls Division 3 Regional Coach of the Year.

Former Central Montcalm and Greenville golf coach Jim Whitmer has a long resume of success.

Whitmer coached golf at Central Montcalm from 1972 until 2001 when he retired. After that, he spent another five years coaching the Greenville boys golf team. He coached both boys and girls at Central Montcalm, as well as football, basketball and track.

Over the years, Whitmer’s teams won 220 dual matches, won 13 invitational championships and placed in the top four 50 times. His teams won five conference championships, two regional championships and played in the MHSAA state finals four times.

For those accomplishments, plus his contributions to the game of golf, Whitmer was inducted into the Michigan Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame earlier this month.

The honor was a shock to Whitmer.

“I was stunned. Absolutely stunned,” Whitmer said. “I felt quite honored. I knew I was nominated, but you never know if you will be elected or not, but you always hope.”

Whitmer was the 1996 boys Regional Coach of the Year and The Daily News Coach of the Year. He was girls Regional Coach of the Year in 1999 and girls Division 3 State Coach of the Year in 2001.

“I’ve always been a coach, starting in 1972,” Whitmer said. “I always thought golf was the ultimate competition. You are totally in charge of what happens yourself. I always enjoyed that aspect of it and I always enjoyed the kids. I’m just a gym rat and like coaching.”

In addition to the success on the course, Whitmer contributed heavily to the game of golf. That includes starting a girls golf league in mid Michigan long before the increase in popularity of girls golf.

“The growth has been remarkable. In fact, that is one of the things I’m most proud of,” Whitmer said. “In the early 1990s, there were very few girls golf teams in the central Michigan area. Most girls, if they played, had to play on the boys teams. John Kearney and I developed the Mid Michigan Women’s Golf League.

“We introduced girls golf to many schools in the area,” Whitmer said. “Greenville, Alma, St. Louis and Lakeview were some of the schools that joined. There was about eight schools that joined. We were proud of that and felt like we helped to expand girls golf in the area.”

Whitmer also assisted in hosting local tournaments and ran junior golf programs at North Kent Golf Course.

Whitmer still loves the game of golf. He plays often, although he is anxiously waiting for the weather to break to hit the links this spring.

“I play with two groups, one of them the Great Lakes Senior,” Whitmer said. “That group includes about 700 guys and we play all over the west side of the state. I’m chewing on my golf clubs I’m so ready.”

Other honorees on March 10 went to Richard Laurant (Greenville) for assistant/JV Coach of the Year, Doug Anderson (Belding) for boys District Division 2 Coach of the Year and Gary Buchholz (Central Montcalm) for boys Regional Division 3 Coach of the Year.

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