Best seat in the house at the Senior PGA

Don Elferink, Brennan Huddas and Jacob Vandenberg hunker down along the No. 7 fairway Saturday at the Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor. It was the first hole the group decided to sit at because they heard it was the most difficult for players. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

Don Elferink, Brennan Huddas and Jacob Vandenberg hunker down along the No. 7 fairway Saturday at the Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor. It was the first hole the group decided to sit. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON HARBOR — There are several prime spots for spectators to sit and view the Senior PGA Championship at the Golf Club at Harbor Shores.

But there is one spot that many try to visit due to its elevated view of incoming golfers and the Lake Michigan backdrop. That would be the seventh green.

Among the crowd circling the green of hole 7 were Mike and Lynn Lenz. The couple from LaCrosse, Wis., assumed the position at 9 a.m. Saturday, looking down hill for golfers and holding their breath as they putted mere yards away. With one of the best seats in the house, the Lenzes sat quietly, watching golfers while their backs were to Lake Michigan.

“I’ll look behind me every now and then,” Lynn Lenz joked. “When there’s a lag between golfers, you can’t help it. It’s a nice spot to be in.”

Both attended the Senior PGA two years ago in Benton Harbor for the first time, which made them want to come back in 2016. Hole 7 was one of the greens that caught their interest last time. The couple came prepared this year, setting up lawn chairs a few yards from the edge of the green. They decided to splurge on a rental for the week that was within walking distance of the course, especially hole 7.

Tom and Louise Efting positioned themselves further down along the fairway at hole 7 on Saturday. The couple said they were interested in watching Rocco Mediate after the golfer took the lead in the previous two rounds.

Traveling from Middleville, just outside of Grand Rapids, the Eftings decided to stay in St. Joseph for a few days.

The couple decided to walk the majority of the course Friday – except for the holes out by Jean Klock Park. They saved that endeavor for Saturday.

“We went to all the holes yesterday, except for the three out here,” Tom said in reference to holes 7, 8 and 9. “I’m a golfer and I think this is a gorgeous course. I wanted to see the holes by the lake.”

It was also David Vandenberg’s first time at the course, and he brought his son. The first spot the Zeeland resident chose to sit at was hole 7.

Having shown up at 11 a.m., Vandenberg and his group sat along the right side of the fairway, just before the hill peaks where golfers have to hit blind toward the green. Taking the trolley from the No. 1 fairway, Vandenberg and company brought a few PGA Tour seats they bought nearly a decade ago when they first attended the Buick Open in Grand Blanc.

Vandenberg said they heard the seventh was a signature hole. Not just for its landscape, but for its difficulty as well.

“We heard it was tough hole. Of course, any time you get near a dune it tends to get crazy,” he said. “I like the layout of the course, you just have to navigate the terrain.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on May 29, 2016)

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