By Butch Harmon
Special for Second Half
BIG RAPIDS – After coming close the past few seasons, Detroit Catholic Central captured the 2015 MHSAA Division 1 boys golf championship in a big way Saturday.
DCC earned its first MHSAA golf title since 2010 with a two-day total of 591 at Katke Golf Course in Big Rapids. That score was 31 strokes better than second-place Battle Creek Lakeview, which finished with 622 strokes.
Canton took third with 624 while Hartland (625) and Rockford (633) rounded out the top five teams.
The championship ended four years of frustration for the Shamrocks that included falling one stroke short at last year’s Final and a third-place finish in 2013.
“Mission accomplished,” DCC senior co-captain Glenn Piot said. “This was our goal all year.”
Fellow senior captain Will Coffman shared his teammate’s feelings.
“It’s been a long time coming to be honest,” Coffman said. “Last year we battled to the end and lost by one. This feels great.”
Not only did the Cougars have to fend off a talented field of teams, but they also needed to fight off tough weather conditions that included plenty of wind along with the always challenging course that is home to Ferris State University.
“The boys just battled all weekend,” Detroit Catholic Central coach Mike Anderson said. “The conditions were tough with the wind, but the boys just kept grinding.”
The Shamrocks relied on a total-team effort and balance to get the job accomplished. Three of Catholic Central’s golfers placed in the top 10 individually, while the fourth score finished just two shots out of the top 10.
Ben Smith led the way. He turned in a pair of consistent efforts as he shot a 72 on Friday and then came back with a 73 on Saturday to finish with a 145 that placed him third overall.
Max Palmer and sophomore James Piot tied for eighth place. Palmer and Piot both carded scores of 150 for the two days, with Palmer shooting a 70 and an 80 and Piot carding a pair of 75s. Coffman finished the tournament with a 152 total as he shot 77 and 75.
“As a team we played pretty well,” Piot said. “Max played great the first day. Ben played solid the whole weekend, and Will was pretty solid too.”
As a team, the Shamrocks posted strong scores on both days of the tournament. Catholic Central led the by nine strokes after shooting a 294 on Friday. The Shamrocks then came back with a 297 on Saturday.
DCC had its entire team of more than 20 golfers on hand for the event.
“I didn’t expect all of them to make it up,” Anderson said. “It’s a two-and-a-half hour drive, and we had over 20 here. It shows the kind of support we have. This is a pretty special group of kids. They are all good players. We have 60 to 65 kids try out, and we try to whittle it down to 20 or so. They are all good golfers. They are all tournament players in the summer.”
Battle Creek Lakeview placed second overall and also had the individual champion. Junior Andrew Walker, who placed ninth as an individual last year, took home the medalist honor. He shot a 70 on the first day and came back on Saturday to shoot a 72, giving him a two-day total of 142 that was two strokes lower than Donnie Trosper of Canton.
“This is what I’ve been chasing for three years now,” Walker said. “To finally be able to win it is amazing. I tied for ninth last year and finished two shots out of a playoff.”
The experience helped Walker this year.
“Consistency was the key this year,” Walker said. “The course is tough, so I just tried to go out there and stay consistent and not get in too much trouble. This feels amazing. I can’t describe the feeling.”
Trosper, who opened with a round of 67 on Friday, finished with a 144. Catholic Central’s Smith placed third with a 145, as did Joe Montpas of Flushing. Joel Pietila of Rockford placed fifth with a 147.
PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Catholic Central’s Ben Smith watches a shot Saturday at Katke Golf Course while leading his team to the Division 1 title. (Middle) Battle Creek Lakeview’s Andrew Walker claimed the individual championship by two strokes. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com).
The LPGA Professionals have named Saline High School golf coach Debbie Williams-Hoak as its national Coach of the Year.
Williams-Hoak was among national award winners who were selected by the LPGA Professionals’ executive committee from a pool of Section Award winners, which were voted on by officers of those regional sections.
More on the award from LPGA Professionals:
The LPGA Professionals Coach of the Year Award was established in 1980 and is awarded annually to an LPGA Professionals member who is actively engaged in teaching and/or coaching golf at the collegiate or high school level.
LPGA Professionals Class A member Debbie Williams-Hoak knows what it takes to compete at the highest levels. She is a former LPGA Tour Player and track & field athlete who represented U.S. Track & Field in Russia and West Germany. She is a four-time Big Ten Champion, a member of the Ohio Track & Field Hall of Fame, University of Michigan Women’s Track Hall of Fame member and a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame as a player, coach and teaching professional. This year, she is being inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor.
Having been a multi-sport athlete accustomed to competing at the highest level, Williams-Hoak brings something unique to her coaching style. She has successfully coached boys and girls golf for the past 16 years at Saline High School in Saline, Michigan, and currently is serving as the first female president of the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association. Williams-Hoak feels proud that every girl on her team shot career lows while maintaining 100-percent academic eligibility this season, while her boys team placed second in the conference championship and qualified for its second-straight state Finals appearance.
She is dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of the game while empowering students through golf and hopes her example will pave the way for other women coaches to lead as well.
Williams-Hoak received the 2017 Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award, the most coveted honor bestowed by LPGA*USGA Girls Golf, for her continued dedication and passion for empowering girls through golf. She was honored with the Midwest Youth Leader of the Year and Goldie Bateson Award two times, in addition to numerous recognitions as Coach of the Year from Saline High School.
She is deeply involved with the LPGA Professionals organization, which she currently serves as the LPGA Midwest Secretary since 2021. She has been site director for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Greater Washtenaw Country since 2015 and acted as an advisor for the Site Director Certification program in 2021. From 2018-2021, she worked as an expert committee member for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf. She also coached at the LPGA Leadership Academies in Michigan over the last two years.
"I am extremely humbled by this award, as there are so many outstanding LPGA coaches in our association. What an honor to represent the LPGA, the state of Michigan and the game of golf as a coach,” said Williams-Hoak. “It is a privilege to work with so many wonderful players who make coaching so rewarding. I am also fortunate to have such great fellow coaches in Michigan and throughout the LPGA. Thank you so much for this very special recognition."
PHOTO: Saline golf coach Debbie Williams-Hoak, far left, stands for the trophy shot with her girls team after the Hornets won the 2016 Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship. (MHSAA file photo)