DCC Closes Perfect Spring with Repeat

June 11, 2016

By Paul Morgan
Special for Second Half

ALLENDALE – Even though Detroit Catholic Central led after Friday’s first round of the Lower Peninsula Division 1 golf tournament, coach Mike Anderson knew things weren’t just right.

‘’On the drive up and during breakfast on Friday morning the guys were very quiet,’’ Anderson said. ‘’Today, it was back to normal, having fun.’’

Ben Smith was the Shamrocks’ poster child for quiet-Friday, fun-Saturday.  The junior shot a 6-over par 78 for the first round, but came back for a 2-under 70 on Saturday to help DCC repeat as MHSAA champion.

The Shamrocks shot 299-298 – 597 for the two-day tournament, held at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University. Grosse Pointe South was second with rounds of 302-303 – 605.

Battle Creek Lakeview’s Andrew Walker won a one-hole playoff over Plymouth’s Jack Boczar to take medalist honors. Each shot a 143. The championship was Walker's second straight.

Smith and junior James Piot (71-77 – 148) have been the leaders on Catholic Central’s team, according to Anderson.

‘’As it turned out James had a good first day and Ben had a good second day, so it worked out pretty well,’’ the coach said.

The turnaround for Smith was pretty simple.

‘’Today, I think I missed like two fairways and Friday I think I hit only two fairways,’’ Smith said. ‘’On the first day, it wasn’t really nerves, but I just wasn’t hitting it well and I couldn’t find the fairway, which leads to problems on this course.

‘’Overall, I played really well, but I left a few shots out there. I three-putted twice for par and missed a couple of short ones, but that’s going to happen.’’

Three holes on the back nine were crucial for Smith and his teammates. The junior double-bogeyed the par-3 13th hole, but came back with a birdie on the par-5 14th and then drained a long putt on the par-4 15th for a par.

‘’After making the double bogey, I used that to motivate me to play better,’’ he said. ‘’Luckily, I had that short par five and it’s a birdie hole.

‘’I was thinking to hit a drive out there, put it on in two and either get an eagle or birdie, which is what I did.’’

Added Anderson: ‘’Ben’s played well all year and Friday was his worst round of the season.’’

Also in the top five for Catholic Central was senior Max Palmer (75-75 – 150), junior Sean Niles (75-76 – 151) and junior Sean Sooch (79-83 – 162). Anderson is all smiles when thinking about next year and having to replace just one player.

‘’They didn’t lose an event all year,’’ Anderson said. ‘’All the boys on our team are going to play college golf and they have bright futures.’’

That goes all the way to Catholic Central’s ninth golfer.

‘’My sixth-through-nine golfers could make anyone’s top five,’’ he said. ‘’They will probably play college golf and they can’t make their high school top-five.’’

The all-smiles thing can be said about Grosse Pointe South coach Doug Roby, who isn’t losing a player off his top five. The Blue Devils’ scores were junior Oliver Livingston (71-74 – 145), sophomore Evan Theros (73-75 – 148), junior John Schoof (80-75 – 155), freshman Coalter Smith (78-79 – 157) and sophomore Patrick Sullivan (82-82 – 164).

‘’The kids played well both days,’’ Roby said. ‘’Friday night, we reviewed where we potentially gave away some strokes and it was in the last four holes.

‘’One of the things with this team is our play in that stretch. We just came up short today.’’

Actually, it was most of Catholic Central’s players getting off to hot starts, which put Grosse Pointe South in a position of playing catch-up all day. As a team, the Shamrocks had a seven-stroke lead over the Blue Devils after six holes.

‘’We talked about continuing to do the same things we’ve done all year,’’ Anderson said about the Saturday pep talk. ‘’We have to play our game, which is hitting greens and fairways, making good decisions and taking the double bogey out of play.’’

In doing so, the Shamrocks won the school’s fourth MHSAA golf championship in the past 13 years.

After DCC and Grosse Pointe South, the rest of the team scoring was Grand Blanc 617, Warren DeLaSalle 618, Midland 620, Battle Creek Lakeview 622, Detroit U-D Jesuit 624, Plymouth 630, Bloomfield Hills 632, Ann Arbor Skyline 637, Grand Ledge 641, Northville 650, Rochester Adams 655, Birmingham Brother Rice 657 and Rockford 669.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Catholic Central clinched its second straight Lower Peninsula Division 1 title. (Middle) Battle Creek Lakeview's Andrew Walker (right) shakes hands with Plymouth's Jack Boczar after winning a one-hole playoff for the individual medalist honor. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

Mid Peninsula's Boys Sweep UPD3 Titles, Including 1st Team Championship

By Jason Juno
Special for MHSAA.com

June 1, 2023

HYDE – The Rock Mid Peninsula boys won their first Upper Peninsula Finals boys golf championship Thursday, earning it in Division 3 at Highland Golf Club near Escanaba.

The Wolverines finished with a score of 324, 13 strokes fewer than runner-up Ontonagon.

“It’s the first time in school history for us, so we’re pretty excited about it,” Mid Pen coach Earlene VanDamme said. “The kids put a lot of work into this year.”

They did it with three golfers among the individual top five, led by medalist Bradly VanDamme, who shot a 77, and tournament runner-up Michael Englund, who carded a 78. Christian VanDamme was close behind with an 81, which was good for a fifth-place tie.

Big Bay de Noc’s Nick Desjarden watches a tee shot at Highland Golf Club. The three golfers have shot consistently around 80 all year. 

“Our top three boys were pretty equivalent. They were within one or two strokes of each other,” Coach VanDamme said. “I kept messing with the order. It didn’t matter where I put them, it always ended up that they were just all always kind of consistent.”

Bradly VanDamme said he has been shooting consistently in the 80s. He shot an 80 here during a practice round. 

“So a 77 today was huge,” he said. “I never expected to play as good as I did today.”

Fixing a key part of his game helped.

“I got off the tee well; usually that’s my struggle,” VanDamme said. “But every tee, I just thought, if I can keep this one in play and keep it in the fairway, then this course is pretty easy if you can keep it in the fairway.”

He said he was happiest about the team title.

“It’s great. All the guys are really excited. That was our goal coming into this – we didn’t care how we all individually placed, we just wanted to win as a team,” he said.

Watersmeet’s Edmond Williams putts during his round.That’s the way team leaders think.

“Bradly is a strong leader for the team,” Coach VanDamme said. “He continuously is just prepping the team, saying, ‘Come on guys, this is about the team score. We all need to do this.’”

His brother Christian VanDamme was just four strokes behind him.

“It helps that (Bradly’s) brother is on the team because he is very competitive with him,” said Coach VanDamme, who also is Bradly and Christian’s mother. “And they put a lot of extra practice in trying to better themselves, so they do practice a lot.”

Ontonagon was team runner-up for the second year in a row.

The Gladiators were led by Abi Pestka, who finished in third place and shot an 80, and Jerry Majurin, who tied Christian VanDamme with an 81.

“That’s the best the boys have done as a group,” Ontonagon coach Jim Jessup said. “Everybody was fairly close in terms of their scores.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Rock Mid Peninsula celebrates its first UP Finals championship in boys golf Thursday. (Middle) Big Bay de Noc’s Nick Desjarden watches a tee shot at Highland Golf Club. (Below) Watersmeet’s Edmond Williams putts during his round. (Photos by Jason Juno.)