Grosse Pointe South Takes Final Step

June 9, 2018

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half

ALLENDALE – The Grosse Pointe South boys golf team had grown weary of coming up a few strokes short.

After placing runners-up at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals the past two years to Detroit Catholic Central, the Blue Devils finally broke through Saturday at The Meadows at Grand Valley State and captured the program’s first MHSAA championship.

Grosse Pointe South fired back-to-back rounds over the weekend of 299 for a 598 total. The Blue Devils finished 19 strokes ahead of runner-up Rockford, which shot 617.

Birmingham Seaholm (619), Northville (624) and the Shamrocks (627) rounded out the top five.  

“They were so self-motivated and self-driven to take it to that next level,” Blue Devils coach Rob McIntyre said. “They were sick and tired of coming close, and they took it upon themselves to really drive that one extra step. I’m really proud of how they went out there and performed.”

Grosse Pointe South senior Patrick Sullivan was the catalyst in the win and earned an individual Finals title while also gaining redemption.

Sullivan defeated Northville’s Jimmy Dales on the second playoff hole to earn the medalist honor.

“We came here my sophomore year, and we lost by a few strokes and I played horrible,” said Sullivan, who will play at the University of Michigan in the fall. “I don’t even think my score counted the second day. So just to come back for the team and win, and for me to win individually is just a bonus.”

Sullivan and Dales each shot 143 with rounds of 71 and 72.

Sullivan was in trouble on the first playoff hole after his second shot flew over the green. However, he got up-and-down to force an extra hole and won it with a two-putt par.  

“My adrenaline was clearly going on the second shot to get there, but my lie was pretty good,” he said. “I took a big swing, and it worked out. Two-footers the last two holes felt like 20 feet, but they got the job done. I putted well the past couple days, and that was the difference.”

Dales, a senior, missed last year’s Finals after undergoing hernia surgery two weeks before his team’s Regional.

“It was good to come back and play well, and I thought I had a really good game plan coming into the week,” Dales said. “I hit my irons really well, and that gave me some birdie opportunities and kept big scores out of the way. I made a lot of really clutch putts, especially on that playoff hole.”

Grosse Pointe South junior Coalter Smith also finished among the top 10, in a tie for third with a 148 total.

Also contributing solid scores were sophomore Tom Sullivan (152) and senior Evan Theros (155).

“We’ve been practicing a lot to not hoist the second-place trophy, and it feels really good,” Smith said. “This has been building year after year, and we’ve played like this all year. We’ve all been able to play pretty well and shoot in the low to mid 70s.

McIntyre knew this team had the makings of one that could reverse the trend of near misses.

“This was the end goal, and we knew from the beginning that this was our potential,” he said. “I don’t want to say it was state championship or nothing, but I’m very proud of the scores they put up that led us to a state championship.”

Rockford’s runner-up effort was its highest finish at the Finals in school history.

Junior Kevin Healy led the Rams with a 146 total after a pair of 73s and placed second overall.

Senior Daniel Froumis shot 151, while freshman Oliver Haeverle carded a 153.

“Give credit to Grosse Pointe South because they are a phenomenal team,” Rockford coach Joel Siegel said. “They definitely played awesome, and our guys played awesome. I knew we had a lot of potential this year and were just searching for consistent four and five guys.

“This is where I thought we would be, and it’s going to be really fun to see what happens next year returning most of our guys from (this) year.”

Entering Saturday, the Rams were among six teams separated by five strokes or fewer behind Grosse Pointe South.

“Our last couple holes on Friday were 12, 13 and 14, and we played those absolutely terrible,” Siegel said. “Our van ride home was focusing on how we could dial in on those holes because we knew they would be important coming in, and ironically though, they were. We were able to get through them just fine.”

Utica Ford’s Owen Tucci shot the lowest score of the Finals, firing a 5-under 67 on Saturday after shooting 81 for the first round. He finished in a tie for third at 148.

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PHOTOS: (Top) Grosse Pointe South’s Patrick Sullivan guides an iron shot during Friday’s first round at The Meadows. (Middle) Northville’s Jimmy Dales watches one of his shots Friday. (Click to see more from

Saline's Williams-Hoak Named National Coach of the Year by LPGA Professionals

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 20, 2022

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)