Hanover-Horton Ties Up 1st Title Since '93

June 9, 2018

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – It was fitting that the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Boys Golf Finals took place on the same day as the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, because Hanover-Horton and Big Rapids had a photo finish.

The two were tied after Friday’s first day at Forest Akers West with identical scores of 321, and then walked in from the course after Saturday’s second round having each shot scores of 330 to finish with a final total of 651.

So the figurative photo finish was the fifth-golfer tiebreaker, and that went the way of Hanover-Horton, which won its first MHSAA boys golf title since 1993.

“Mother Nature had a lot to say about today,” Hanover-Horton coach Mike Brockie said after watching his team survive a day full of rain, adding that what helped his team was that it played in a tournament at Forest Akers West about a month under weather conditions that were just as poor with a steady rain all day.

“You had casual water on the greens,” Brockie said. “My boys are somewhat mudders. I have a couple mudders, and I have a couple that would prefer not to play in this. But I tell my kids that you have to turn this weather into an asset, and I had three kids that did.”

Leading the way for Hanover-Horton was senior Brody Spink, who shot a two-day total of 159 (76-83).

Senior Garret Spink was right behind with a 161 (82-79), sophomore Brogan Brockie had a 164 (83-81), sophomore Jack Brockie shot a 167 (85-82) and freshman Kyler Rod finished at 182 (93-89).

Ultimately, it was Rod’s 89 that proved the difference, as that total was two shots better than the 91 shot by Big Rapids’ fifth golfer.

The Cardinals were led by junior Pierce Morrissey, a Michigan State-committed recruit who won the medalist honor with a final total of 147 (70-77).

“I struggled a little bit, and I wasn’t able to execute on a couple of shots that I hit real well,” Morrissey said. “The weather came into effect a little bit, and I finished out with the game I had today.”

Junior Owen Seay shot a 156 (74-82), senior Fletcher Boida had a 167 (85-82) and senior Benjamin Faith shot a 181 (92-89) additionally for Big Rapids.

In 2008, Big Rapids won the Division 3 title via the fifth-golfer tiebreaker, but was on the other side 10 years later.

“We played (Hanover-Horton) a couple of different times, and it has always been tight,” Big Rapids coach Mark Posey said. “You play in tournaments like this, and you know every stroke is going to count.”

Posey said there were no weather-related instructions that needed to be given to his team before Saturday’s play started.

“You are playing Michigan golf, and you get that experience playing in all sorts of weather, especially being from Northern Michigan. “My boys were prepared and ready to go. They knew they had to take their time and be patient. I’m really proud of the way that they hung in there today. They really fought their way through out there and didn’t give away any strokes. They kept at it.”

Grosse Ile was third with a 660, Grand Rapids South Christian shot a 669 to finish fourth, and Jackson Lumen Christi and Grand Rapids West Catholic tied for fifth with a 673.

Individually, Grand Rapids West Catholic senior Anderson Ryan finished second with a 150 (76-74), and Jackson Lumen Christi junior Tanner Schnell was third with a 153 (75-78).

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PHOTOS: (Top) Hanover-Horton’s Brody Spink watches one of his drives during Friday’s first round of the LP Division 3 Final. (Middle) Big Rapids’ Pierce Morrissey pumps a fist after making a putt. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

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)