Extra Effort Pays for Champion Houghton

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

May 28, 2014

MARQUETTE — The top four Houghton High School boys golfers went to such places as Washington, D.C., South Carolina and Florida during Spring Break to sharpen their skills. 

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

They were rewarded for their efforts Wednesday as the Gremlins captured the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 title with 310 strokes at the Marquette Golf & Country Club’s Heritage course. 

Runner-up Escanaba shot 318, followed by defending champ Marquette at 321.

Houghton sophomore Wyatt Liston earned medalist honors by firing a 73. He was followed by Marquette junior Mike McGee, who shot a personal-best 75, and Escanaba sophomore Nick Aird at 76. 

“I think everything went pretty well,” said Liston, who birdied three holes on a sunny day and seasonably cool day near the shore of Lake Superior. “Overall, I played pretty solid. Hitting the fairway off the tee was the key, although I wasn’t getting a lot of distance on my shots.

“I thought my approach shots and putting went pretty well. The greens had a lot of movement, and today was all about being able to read them. What today’s tournament means is I have a lot of room for improvement. I would like to get a little better at striking the ball.” 

Houghton’s Gunnar Stein and Ben Strong and Escanaba’s Dane Casperson, who birdied four consecutive holes, shared fourth place at 78.

The Gremlins recorded seven birdies during the tournament. 

“Anytime you can get three golfers to shoot in the 70s, it helps,” said Houghton coach Jack Humpula. “Our consistency across the board also helped. Another thing that helps is the guys don’t let a bad shot ruin the entire hole. We’ve been pretty consistent all season and that’s how we won our (West-PAC) conference.”

Fourth-year coach Brian Robinette said he was very pleased with Escanaba’s performance. 

“I feel real good about how we did,” he added. “You’re always looking for results at the end of the year, and 318 is the lowest score we shot in a tournament all year. We just wanted to perform in a way (in) which another team had to shoot a score better than us. A 310 is definitely a championship performance on this course.

“I’ve always believed that success breeds success, and I think that holds true in (Houghton’s) program. I also think our program is heading in that direction. We didn’t lose any momentum in terms of where our program seems to be going.” 

Dylan Gauthier added a 79 for the Eskymos, who were last crowned U.P. champions in 2011.

“When you get three kids shooting in the 70s under the pressure of the U.P. Finals, I think it bodes well for your program,” Robinette said. “Dane (Casperson) is a four-year veteran who understands what this is all about. He was part of a U.P. championship team as a freshman and had to take a leadership role at a very young age. Just watching Dane carry himself around the course this year just kind of gives you that sense of pride. We feel our program is on the rise.”

Marquette also had an additional top-10 finisher in Brett Specker, who shared seventh with Gauthier and Gladstone’s Max Stasser at 79. 

“We’re happy for Mike (McGee),” said Marquette coach Ben Smith. “He bogeyed the last hole and was kind of bummed about that, but he still shot a great round.

“I thought the boys shot an OK score. A lot of our kids left a stroke or two out there. Scott (Frazier) and Brett (Specker) led us all year, and Mike was our No. 3 golfer. It’s awesome when you can get these kinds of contributions throughout your lineup as we did from Mike today.” 

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PHOTOS: (Top) Houghton's Wyatt Liston drives from the sixth tee box during the MHSAA Division 1 U.P. Finals on Wednesday at Marquette Country Club. (Middle) Escanaba's Dane Casperson putts on the fifth green. (Photos by Adelle Whitefoot.)

Bloomfield Hills JV Golfer Adds Rare Highlight to Strong Spring with Par-4 Hole-In-One

By Tom Lang
Special for MHSAA.com

May 24, 2024

Freshman Lucas Dostal was just aiming for a drive down the middle of the par-4 17th fairway.

Just seconds later, he finished the hole at Hudson Mills Metro Park in that one swing with the driver.

The Bloomfield Hills junior varsity player didn’t see from the tee his ace on the 329-yard hole drop in the cup, so the reaction was delayed – but still refreshing.

“I hit a draw, so the ball started right, then went left and it was kinda going toward the pin but it was too hard to see,” he said in an email. “The ground was firm, and there was some down wind.

“I didn’t see the ball at all go in, but once I realized it, I was in shock. It helped me shoot a really good 71, but I tripled bogeyed (4-putt) the last hole so that kinda ruined it.”

Spoken like a true competitive golfer.

That 71 was good for medalist at the tournament April 20 versus other JV teams like Detroit Catholic Central, Novi and Grand Blanc, and brought way more attention to his game than he’d like.

The program’s junior varsity coach David Lumsden, a North Hills middle school teacher, said a lot of people assumed he’d be bumped up to varsity very soon; even local media talked that way. After all, it was the first tournament of the season, and Dostal comes into the clubhouse with an albatross and a win.

Dostal, standing third from right, is joined by his team after they won the Ace & Bob Byerlein JV Tournament that day. “He is a good golfer, and the first thing I did was email the varsity coach and said I think this kid has got the goods to be on varsity,” Lumsden said. “We had purposefully left two varsity spots open because we have so many young kids who are good golfers; we didn’t know who to choose and left two spots (flexible). I suggested Lucas, but we agreed since he was a freshman to give him a couple more events and see how he does.

“I think he shot in the high 70s the next tournament and the 80s after that. And Lucas came to me after that and said, ‘Coach, can you put me on the B team?’ I think the pressure was getting to him being No. 1 on the A team. So, me and the varsity coach agreed he needs a year on JV to play in some more matches and tournaments and grow into that varsity position.”

The JV team went 9-0 this spring in dual meets and finished in the top 10 in five of six tournaments.

“He’s going to be a great golfer,” Lumsden said. “There’s no part of his game that is lacking. He’s got a great short game. Off the tee he’s amazing. And I’ve watched him make really great recovery shots with his irons. He’s going to be really good; we’re just taking it slow. Don’t want to put all this pressure on him and end up having him quit golf too early.

“Lucas is very mild-mannered. He doesn’t talk a lot. He loves golf and has a brother (Domonic) playing on the varsity team who’s really good too. They are both golf fanatics and love the game. It’s very enjoyable to watch him getting into it and getting used to being a good golfer and getting this kind of recognition. He’s not been bragging about anything, and he’s just a solid golfer.”

If Dostal does make varsity in 2025, he should be joining his brother for that one year together on the team.

“The awareness (of his game) is there,” Lumsden said. “He’s really got the temperament to be somebody that’s going to be a top golfer.

“Many of the top golfers in the state are here in Southeast Michigan, so he’s got a lot of good competition. He might be used to going out with his buddies and beating them by 10 strokes with no problem; now he’s going against kids who are just as good as he is, or better.

“And this is just JV golf. Once you go to varsity, those kids go really low.”

PHOTOS (Top) Bloomfield Hills’ Lucas Dostal shows the ball he drove into the hole next to him for a par-4 hole-in-one April 20 at Hudson Mills Metro Park. (Middle) Dostal, standing third from right, is joined by his team after they won the Ace & Bob Byerlein JV Tournament that day. (Photos courtesy of the Bloomfield Hills JV golf program.)