We’re making history this year: for the first time ever, we have a BMC Champion Golfer of the Year!   Kind of like the Champion Golfer of the Year crowned after each year’s Open, just without the high-pitched English-accented announcement (or monetary stipend, international acclaim, etc.).

Actually, this award is meant to recognize not just one but the many BMC members who have had banner years in 2022.  So below we have six nominees for this prestigious honor.  And while the selection process for an award like this is inherently subjective, rest assured that we have a winner whose credentials you’ll agree are more than deserving.

The nominees and their 2022 achievements:

Michael Kraft:  Michael is our 2022 Club Champion and carries a USGA handicap of plus .7 (note the plus).  Michael plays in Wednesday League and won this year’s Club Championship in a nail biter over Cutter Tyllia (with a USGA index of plus 1.5), both players having finished regulation play in one over, with Mr. Kraft prevailing in  a play-off.

Bill Angel:  Bill is our 2022 Senior Club Champion, and carries a 5.6 USGA handicap.  Bill played great in Thursday league this year and, in the Senior Club Championship, bested runner-up Tim Smith by a single stroke, also finishing, like Mr. Kraft and Mr. Tyllia, at one over.  Earlier in the year Bill shot his age with an even par 72 from the E tees.

Tim Smith, with a USGA handicap of 3,5, is a long-standing regular in Wednesday League and a former Senior Club Champion.  Tim not only placed second in this year’s Senior Club Championship, but also won the gross score competition in our annual Spring Stag, along with teammates John Miller, Mike Kavanaugh and Dave Bell.

Kevin Lawless, a 17.3 handicapper, was one of only two members to make a hole-in-one this year and also took first place in our Tuesday League, along with teammates  Taylor Smith and Bob Malby.

Chris Eckes, a first year member and carrying a USGA index of .5, played well on our 16 Man Team, and  took first place in both Individual Match Play and Best Weekly’s A Flight.

Tom Sampson, with a USGA handicap of 9.0, won the Super Seniors Division of the Club Championship with a remarkable total score of 4 under.  Tom won by a comfy 9 strokes in the gross score competition, on the strength of a sizzling opening round of 68.  That score not only set a new course record from Braemar’s N tees, but by shooting a 68, Tom bested his age (79 years young at the time) by a whopping 11 strokes!

Finally, yours truly, while not eligible for this honor (by virtue of serving as judge and jury– fundamental to our favorite sport being that it’s self-policing) wants to note for the record that I take great pride in winning the Club Championship’s Senior Flight Division at 3 over (a 9-stroke margin in the gross score competition); being leading money winner in Thursday League; and in taking second place in Best Weekly’s B Flight.

And so now, with due regard for all our outstanding nominees, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for: our 2022 BMC  Champion Golfer of the Year is (drum roll):  Tom Sampson!

All our nominees had great years on the golf course, but only Tom set a new course record— and in doing so not only bested his age by 11 strokes but also beat his competition by 9 shots.  So, while a great case can be made for each of our nominees, Mr. Sampson is this year’s pick.

And in case you’re wondering how he did it, Tom credits his long-time swing coach, Joe Gruepner, for much of his success– and is convinced  it was Joe’s putting advice that led to Tom’s 20-footer for eagle on number 8, a pivotal hole on his way to that blistering 68.  Tom also credits fellow member Bob Devereaux (reputedly 97 years old and who regularly shoots his age) as his ongoing golf inspiration.

So, when you head to the Dome this off-season, look for Tom, who expects to be there regularly. And don’t hesitate to congratulate him on his record-setting performance.

Tom Sampson, 2022 BMC Champion Golfer of the Year

Dick Helde
Past BMC President
Editor, The Virtual 19th Hole