Boyne Academy Student Earns Michigan Amateur Championship

Michigan Recruit Joey GarberHARBOR SPRINGS – Joey Garber’s drive to become the best amateur golfer in Michigan began at the Boyne Golf Academy 14 years ago when Brian O’Neill, Boyne’s director of golf instruction, reluctantly agreed to give a precocious four-year-old his first lesson.

Since then O’Neill, who is in his 20th year with Boyne, has been developing and nurturing the determination and talent he saw in that four-year-old. On July 26, Garber, 18, of Petoskey, won the 99th Michigan Amateur Championship at the Oakhurst Golf & Country Club.

“He came out to the range with his two older brothers and he was four, not five which is the age limit for taking him (as a student) but the way he looked at me I couldn’t turn him down,” O’Neill said. “Even at that age he would putt and putt for hours. He was always chasing his brothers and his mom and dad who are strong players. You could see he always had the heart of a champion.”

Garber is one of five players to have won the amateur championship at age 18. Only the legendary Chuck Kocsis was younger when he won the championship at age 17.

Although the Boyne Golf Academy offers the latest video techniques for swing instruction, O’Neill said he did little video work with Garber in honing his naturally pure swing. Instead he worked on building the remarkable confidence Garber demonstrated down the stretch as he won the amateur championship.

Before his latest triumph Garber twice was the Michigan Junior Stroke Champion in 2008 and 2009. In 2008 he won the GAM Tournament of Champions.

"There are some coaches who are all business," Garber said. "There are some who are business and fun. Brian’s fun to hang around with. He was my caddie at the U.S. Amateur last year in Oklahoma. He’s a great guy."

Garber will take his golf career to the University of Michigan and its golf team this fall. O’Neill predicts success for Garber in collegiate play and beyond.

“The kid has the confidence to go a long way," O'Neil said. "I think he is the real deal. I couldn’t be happier for him. I consider him like the son I never had.”

Garber is not the only youngster O’Neill and the Boyne Gold Academy have turned into a champion.

PGA professional Andy Ruthkoski of Muskegon, who now competes on the Nationwide Tour, has been working with O’Neill for four years. Ruthkoski qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship at age 17.

Earlier this year O’Neill was honored by the Michigan PGA with its Junior Golf Leader Award. The annual award is given to the PGA member who demonstrates leadership within the junior golf community and who reflects the ideals of those who work with golf.

The Boyne Golf Academy provides a variety of instructional packages including video analysis, adult programs, custom club fitting, private instruction, as well as junior programs including the popular Nike Junior Golf Camps.

Boyne is a collection of mountain and golf resorts, retail stores and real estate opportunities based in Michigan.

Each is a member of the Boyne Resorts family of resorts and attractions and includes Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls; Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs and The Inn at Bay Harbor - A Renaissance Golf Resort in Bay Harbor as well as Bay Harbor Golf Club, Crooked Tree Golf Club, Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, Boyne Country Sports and Boyne Realty.

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