Golfer Dan Olsen makes his way to the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame

Dan Olsen has lived a life that golf fans dream of.

Olsen has spent over 30 years as a professional golfer on a number of different tours, traveling the world to play the sport he loves, including a year as a full-time member of the PGA Tour.

And it all started here in Greater Lansing as Olsen grew up in Haslett before his family moved to East Lansing. His four years at East Lansing High School sent him on the path to professional play, leading the Trojans to a state title while winning the individual state crown in his freshman year in 1983.

Olsen’s preparatory and academic achievements at Indiana University, along with years spent on various professional tours around the world, earned him a place in the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. He will be inducted, along with six other individuals and three teams, at a July 28 ceremony at the Lansing Center.

“I was surprised about that,” Olsen said. “I was really happy because it’s a good thing and gets a lot of positive attention. It’s not just (about) me, it’s (about) everyone who helped me or who have been with me throughout my sporting life. It’s just a very good thing. I’m happy to be a part of it.

“When you get an award like this, it makes you think about what you were like, what happened when I was a kid. When you’re recognized like that, you wonder what the mix of things that had to happen for me to excel. It’s an interesting memory.

Olsen’s accomplishments as a youngster stack up pretty well. He was twice selected to the All-State Dream Team and was LSJ Golfer of the Year in 1983 and 1984. After the Trojans won the state title in his junior year in 1983, they finished second the following season.

“I had a hell of a year (as a junior),” Olsen said. “I was an unconscious incompetent. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just did it. Intrinsically, golf can make you feel anxious and scared. To combat this, I just hit it as close to the hole as possible the entire time. … I played very aggressive to combat anxiety and that carried me through my playing career. I had to learn to play the conservative.

Dan Olsen earned medal honors in the 1983 Class A State Finals and also led East Lansing to the state championship.

Locally, he won the Class A State Tournament, held at Groesbeck Golf Course, in 1983 and 1984 and the All-Town Junior Tournament both years as well. Other victories include the Midway Optimist Junior World of Golf Tournament and the Southern Michigan Junior Golf Championship (division 17-18), both in the summer of 1984.

Olsen was, by professional standards, a late bloomer. He didn’t compete in statewide or regional events until he was in high school, but once he got his act together, Olsen’s game took off. He spent hours at Pine Lake Golf Club (now called Meridian Sun), both working on the course and playing. He finally realized that this could become his future.

“It’s not exactly a home for Tour players, but it was really fun,” Olsen said. “I was really happy being a kid there. I really started training as a competitive golfer at Pine Lake.

Olsen credits his high school coach, Evonne Picard, with helping him discover his passion for the game.

“She had a strong personality and she was a real positive influence,” Olsen said. “She formulated the idea that we could be good players, trained us verbally and mentally to think we could do it and that really motivated me to try to train.”

Dan Olsen

And it was in 2004 that Olsen finally qualified for the PGA Tour after 12 previous attempts while going through Tour school. In his only season there, he played in 31 events, finishing once in the top 25 – tied for 12th at the Chrysler Classic in Tucson.

“I wasn’t direct enough and it’s such a merit-based sport,” Olsen said. “In Major League Baseball, for example, a lot of it depends on how much they paid you to sign. They’ll give you chance after chance if you’re one of those bonus-baby guys.

“Golf really has to be earned. I knew I fit in, but it’s really hard to get over that hurdle where you stay. It was a really fun time racing with the fastest guys in the sport.

These days, Olsen plays on The Legends Tour, formerly known as the European Senior Tour. He currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida, where he built a nine-hole par-3 course that he operates with Gary Ganakas, the son of former Michigan State men’s basketball coach Gus Ganakas.

Contact digital sports journalist Phil Friend at 517-377-1220 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Phil_Friend.

Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

When: 4:30 p.m., July 28

Where: Lansing Center

Cost: $35. To order, go to lansingsportshalloffame.org.

2022 inductees: Jim Brandt, Roger Callard, Roland Carter, Josephine Mask, Dan Olsen, Rocky Shaft, Rachel Turney, 2000 Everett Women’s Basketball Team, 2001 Everett Women’s Basketball Team, Lansing Community College Softball Team 2000

Sponsors: Dean Transportation, Shaheen Chevy/Cadillac, Applegate Home Comfort, Gregory Eaton Associates, ASAP Printing, Dan Henry Distributing, One North Kitchen & Bar, AF Group, Bill and Andrew Archer Financial Advisors, Magic Johnson Enterprises, Mary Ellen Sheets