West Allis, WI (December 21, 2022) – The Wisconsin Section of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (WPGA) announces the 2022 Players of the Year. It was once again an exciting journey to crown this year’s honorees. The road to claim this year’s titles began in April and wrapped up in the late fall. Amazingly each race was up for grabs until the very end of the season.
Once again the Wisconsin PGA awarded titles in three different categories: member, senior and assistant. The member category was open to any Class A PGA professional in the section. The senior field would look to find the top player among Class A WPGA professionals aged 50 and older. Lastly, the assistant race was made up of Class A PGA assistant golf professionals and WPGA associates studying to become PGA members.
Taking home this year’s honors were Michael Crowley on the member and senior side and Josh Grisa in the assistants category.
Member and Senior Player of the Year – Michael Crowley, Morningstar Golfers Club (Waukesha)
Calm, consistent and confident, three words that best described Michael Crowley’s golf game this past year.
Finding the right peace of mind can be the missing piece to excelling on the golf course. Some get lucky and find that in their 20s or 30s, while others it may come along later in life.
For Crowley it happened to coincide with one of the biggest events in his life, getting married in 2020. The Fox Point resident has become new a man on the course over the past few years and it has showed in his results.
“Honestly, it is my wife, I just have a completely different focus and mindset,” Crowley said when reflecting on the difference in his golf game. “My life is way more consistent and predictable, and I think that has bled into my golf game.”
Those results helped deliver him with this year’s Wisconsin PGA Member and Senior Player of the Year honors. Joining Jim Schuman as just the second player to double dip and win both awards in the same season.
Crowley was able to earn 1,161 points in the member race to hold off 2021 Member Player of the Year Mick Smith by 57.5 points. In the senior race he accumulated 1,757.5 points, which was 230 more than Schuman.
Having just celebrated 25 years as a PGA member in July, Crowley is certainly not a newcomer to playing well in Wisconsin PGA events. However, the 52-year-old is also playing a different game than what he used to. The guy who used to grip it and rip it, is now the one that is making more birdies because he is playing from the short grass.
“(John) Freeman used to joke that he’d see me six times a round and he wasn’t even playing in the same group as me, because I was always in a different fairway,” Crowley said. “Now I am hitting a lot more fairways, so I can be more consistent.”
After winning the Wisconsin State Senior Open in 2020 and finishing in a tie for sixteenth at the 2021 (National) Senior PGA Professional Championship the momentum has been building for Crowley to put it all together.
His 2022 season would get off to an up and down start, but the chance to play in the Senior PGA Championship in May would turn out to be just what he needed in the following months.
“It was nice kicking the season off at the Senior PGA Championship,” Crowley said. “Because then walking into our section events I just felt more confident. I could feel my game was at a little different level than it has been in the past.”
That confidence would be on full display from July until October. The Morningstar head PGA professional would go on to finish third at the Wisconsin Senior PGA Professional Championship in mid-July. Then after navigating his way into the finals of the WPGA Match Play Championship in August, he would come up just short and be defeated by Smith by only a 1up margin.
Just one week later he would finish in a tie for twentieth at the Suter Ward Group at Morgan Stanley Wisconsin State Open. The lowest finish by a WPGA senior professional in the 2022 field and the second lowest by a WPGA member.
The months of September and October would produce more solid golf. A tie for third at the WPGA Professional Championship and a tie for seventh at the Hornung’s Classic would help to seal both player of the year titles.
His play at the aforementioned events also helped deliver him berths into the 2023 PGA Professional Championship and 2022 Senior PGA Professional Championship.
“It is the most consistent year I’ve ever had,” Crowley said. “I had opportunities to win events but just didn’t finish them off. The culmination is you really put a good effort into every event you played in. Here is the reward, which is pretty special.”
In Crowley’s eyes this is his second most important golfing accomplishment, just behind the chance to tee it up at the 2022 Senior PGA Championship.
“I was kind of going through the list of winners and you see the likes of Bill Brodell, Eddie Terasa, and Mike Muranyi on the list,” Crowley said. “It is humbling and pretty cool.”
Assistant Player of the Year – Josh Grisa, Blackwolf Run (Kohler)
Successful businesses often rely on a team mentality when training their employees. They coach them to work together to get the job done exactly the way it should be.
Josh Grisa and David Bach are teammates at Destination Kohler. Grisa works at Blackwolf Run and Bach is just up the road at Whistling Straits. They work hand in hand daily to ensure guests enjoy their stay at the five-star resort.
In addition, they also team up in numerous Wisconsin PGA pro-po events, and even were victorious in two of them in 2022.
As successful as they are as a team, the duo is finding just as much success in Wisconsin PGA individual events. They have taken ownership of the WPGA Assistant Player of the Year honor since 2019. Each player has now won the honor twice, with Grisa claiming this year’s award.
It was an exciting season as the trio of Grisa, Bach and Jake Wisniewski battled it out for the honor.
In the end a strong final two months of the year would be the determining factor for Grisa’s title. Throughout the year the Merrill native would play the role of chaser. He’d have solid top ten finishes at every point event opportunity over the first four months of the season but no victories to show for it. After making the cut at the Suter Ward Group at Morgan Stanley Wisconsin State Open and finishing behind both Bach and Wisniewski, he knew the odds were stacked against him.
However, he had some control over the race. In early September he would go head-to-head with Wisniewski in the semifinals of the Assistant Match Play. Throughout the day Grisa would struggle with his game but stay in the match. With the match all square on no. 18 the UW-Stout product would chip-in for the 1up win.
“After the match against Jake, I thought I had a pretty good chance at player of the year,” Grisa said. “I still needed to win the Assistant Match Play to have a shot.”
In late September he would do just that. He’d take down Nathan Goecks in the finals by an impressive margin of 6 and 4. The win would propel him into first place of the standings.
Just five days later both Bach and Grisa would tee it up in the final WPGA stroke play event of the season, the Hornung’s Classic. For Wisniewski he had something very important to tend to instead, he was getting married that weekend.
With just over fifty points separating them Grisa knew that he would have to bring his best to defeat Bach. Playing in the same group, each player would struggle out of the gate. After eleven holes they were each 3-over-par. The final seven holes would end up sealing the deal for Grisa as he would rattle over four birdies and just one bogey in route to an even-par 71. Finishing him in a tie for third overall in the event.
“When I compare it to 2020, having the full schedule was definitely key to be able to come back the way I did,” Grisa said. “Overall, I just played really solid all year.”
Grisa would finish the season with 990 points, good enough to create an 83.75-point margin over Bach. It would mark the first time the duo would finish one-two in the standings but probably not the last.