Hackett Catholic Prep Returns from Break as D4's Best Again

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

June 12, 2021

FRANKENMUTH – Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep officially won the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 4 Golf Final championship with its play Saturday afternoon, but the seeds for the victory were planted Thursday.

The Irish played a practice round at The Fortress Golf Club a day before competing in the two-day tournament, and what was learned during that round played a crucial role in a back-nine surge that clinched their second-straight title.

“We try and come out the day before the event, and we were able to do that this year, and I would say it was very crucial,” Hackett coach Jim Holton said. “We stress, ‘We’re not here to shoot a score (Thursday), we’re here to learn,’ and that’s what we did when we got here.”

Hackett finished with a two-day total of 640 strokes, finishing ahead of runner-up Lansing Christian by six. Charlevoix was third with 646, followed by Maple City Glen Lake at 677. 

Clarkston Everest Collegiate’s Remy Stalcup was the tournament medalist, shooting a two-under 142 to win by seven strokes.

For Hackett, a course far from home felt familiar enough Saturday afternoon as it held off a Saturday morning surge from Lansing Christian.

About halfway through the round, the Pilgrims inched ahead, but it was the work done on the back nine that lifted the Irish to a victory.

Their scoring foursome of Tommy Keyte, Ben Bridenstine, Ryan Chafty and Niklas Johansson combined to shoot 158 on the back nine, while Lansing Christian’s top four came in at 166 down the stretch.

“I think we all went through a tough stretch there as a team,” said Keyte, who was the individual runner-up at 149. “Back nine, we just kind of locked in and we picked it up. Made some good birdies, made some good putts. Everything just kind of clicked together on the back. The practice round, we really focused on where we wanted to hit our golf shots. It wasn’t driver every hole, it’s 4-irons, hybrids – you have to place your tee shot because there’s trouble on every hole.”

Clarkston Everest Collegiate golfHolton said he and his team had identified the back nine as the key during Thursday’s practice round.

“We realized the back nine can cause problems for teams,” he said. “We discussed that in the practice round, made our gameplan based on the holes and what we needed to do to keep ourselves ahead of the other competition. We started off great, had a little lull, Lansing Christian went by us and I was a little concerned. But I knew those tough holes were ahead, and I knew we planned well for those holes.”

The second-straight title for Hackett was actually the team’s second in three years, as there was no 2020 season. The senior-laden group – Keyte, Bridenstine, Chafty and No. 5 player Grayson Walters are all seniors – was focused on retaining their title, despite the year off.

“It felt great,” Keyte said. “The whole team was really excited for this weekend, and we’ve been waiting for this for two years now, because we were trying to go back to back. We did it today, and we had a great time. It was a grind out there.”

Following up Keyte’s 149 for Hackett were Bridenstine (158), Chafty (163) and Johansson (171). Walters wasn’t far behind at 173. 

Davis Garrett (150) took third individually to lead Lansing Christian, and was followed by William Combs (156), Caden Kinnas (167) and Baylor Brogan (173).

While Hackett was repeating as team champ, a new face was dominating the course in the individual race. As a sophomore, Stalcup was playing in his first MHSAA Finals, and he led nearly wire to wire. He essentially put the tournament away with an eagle on No. 1 (his 16th hole of the day) on Saturday. 

“I hit my drive in the right heather, so I took a 5-iron out from about 230 (yards), and it almost went in, actually,” Stalcup said. “It was, like, not even a foot for a tap-in eagle and it got me back into it with a big lead.”

Stalcup had played the previous four holes at two-over par, and while the eagle ended up just padding his lead, at the time it seemed necessary.

“I thought it was close; I didn’t know if I was winning by a bunch or not,” he said. “So that helped a lot, for sure. I was happy then. I didn’t look at the leaderboard. I don’t want to know until the very end.”

Stalcup had played at The Fortress earlier in the season, and it was kind to him then as well.

“I love the course; I love it,” he said. “It’s one of my favorite courses, actually. I always play good here. I played good earlier in the season here, too. I putt really well on these greens, I love these greens. I made a lot of long putts. It helps a lot, too, I hit it pretty far. I hit a lot of wedges into greens.”

Jake Beaudoin of Charlevoix and Luke LeBourdais of Saginaw Nouvel tied for fourth at 153, followed by Brady Krohn of Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (154), Michael Zanoni of Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (155), Lansing Christian’s Combs, Blake O’Connor of Glen Lake (157) and Jeffrey Andrus of Royal Oak Shrine (157).

Full results will be linked when available.

PHOTOS: (Top) Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep, with a golfer putting here during Friday's first round, repeated as Division 4 champion. (Middle) Clarkston Everest Collegiate's Remy Stalcup drives during Friday's first round. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

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

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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)