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Native American Cup approaches

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COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – The start of the Native American Cup is rapidly approaching, and golfers are tuning up their games in anticipation. The dates are Aug. 4 – 6 at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, just six miles northeast of Traverse City.

Henry Boulley, board chairman for the event, provided some updated information. “Eight teams have now signed up in the tribal division. That’s up from four last year and we had only expected about six this year. We might still get more but we’re content with eight if the other tribal teams don’t come through. Two new teams this year include Seneca Nation of New York and Team Oklahoma.

“The division for corporate-sponsored teams now has 10 teams that have committed, and I think we’re going to ultimately end up with 12, which is nice. What is really nice is that we’ll be awarding four scholarships and be giving away between six and eight thousand dollars in scholarships this year,” he commented. Scholarships are awarded to American Indian students who will be entering college in the fall.

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is the Midwest’s largest full-service, year-round resort and conference destination. Its three courses – The Bear, The Wolverine, and Spruce Run – provide 54 holes of championship golf, and NAC will use all three. Boulley commented, “The singles matches are always on The Bear.”

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Designed by Jack Nicklaus, The Bear is the facility’s best-known golf course. It’s considered one of the toughest golf courses in the state with tiered greens and terraced fairways, deep roughs and deep bunkers, four lakes and 10 holes with water hazards. The Bear plays to 7,065 yards from the championship tees.

The state-of-the-art clubhouse serves as hub for all three courses and is within walking distance of the Hotel and Tower which opened in 1999. The fleet of 225 golf carts comes with canopies, windshields and ball waters. The resort dates to 1980 and has hosted the prestigious Michigan Open annually since 1981.

Boulley commented that Cheryl Tooshkenig Mitchell, Potawatomi, is scheduled to be the headliner at the NAC. Mitchell is a native of Ontario, Canada, but now resides in Pontiac, Mich. She turned pro in 2005 and is currently playing on the Duramed Futures Tour. She recently made it to the second round of the U.S. Women’s Open and said, “The experience is the best learning tool of all.”

Mitchell has had the opportunity to play with golfers from around the world and feels her game is right where she wants it. Her ultimate goal is to become the initial First Nations woman to play on the Ladies Professional Golf Tour. Earlier this spring she played in a tournament at the Talking Stick Golf Course in Scottsdale, Ariz., shooting 72 – 70 over two rounds and winning by a whopping 28 strokes.

“We’re pulling for her when she’s on the Futures Tour,” Boulley said. “Cheryl is a great role model to our Native youth.”