Houghton 3-Peats, Negaunee Ace Shines

June 2, 2016

By Keith Shelton
Special for Second Half

CHAMPION – With a strong golf game that can travel just about anywhere and a top three as strong as any in the Upper Peninsula, it wasn't hard to understand how Houghton secured an MHSAA Division 1 U.P. Finals three-peat Thursday at Wawonowin Country Club. 

Whereas the Gremlins' closest competitors struggled mightily on certain holes, Houghton stayed consistent as it has all season, despite windy conditions, and retained the title with a 317 score, 10 strokes better than runner-up Negaunee. 

The Miners had their share of advantages this go-around, playing on their home course. And while they celebrated top golfer Carter Mason earning medalist honors with an even-par 72, Houghton's overall depth proved stronger and its golfers able to translate their games to a not-so-familiar course. 

"Going into the year, we didn't know what we'd have in the back end of our rotation," said Gremlins coach Corey Markham. "We knew our top three were real strong, but our four and five golfers – George Butvilas and Ben Strong – really came up big for us. They came on strong as the year went on, and they proved to be very important in today's score."

The Gremlins were led by third-place Gunnar Stein, who shot an impressive two-over 74, especially given a two-hole string on the back nine. Stein struggled on holes 14 and 15, taking a six on 14 and a seven on 15 after losing a ball in the water. The two holes pushed him out of the medalist spot despite a double bogey free day on the other 16 holes. 

"Gunnar had it under par for a while, but he had a triple bogey on 14," said Markham. "To keep your head straight and come through that is tough to do, but he did just that. It's a testament to his golf ability, and his mental state."

Mason had no such problems. Playing the course where his family has had a membership for the last decade, he avoided big mistakes and was the lone golfer to come in at par. Kingsford's Dylan Dalsanto was runner-up with a 73. 

"My putting was the best part of my game today," said Mason. "I started off with three bogeys in the first five holes, but then I came back with birdies on 6, 7, 10 and 16.

"On 15 (which has water), I played the tee shot safe with the 3-wood, and stayed short of the water."

Last year at Pine Grove, Mason was far back from the leaders, shooting in the mid 80s. The double-digit improvement was validation of his work during the summer. 

"Last summer, I played almost every day," Mason said. "I started hitting my irons a lot better and making a lot more putts this year. My putting has definitely improved. 

"There were a few holes that could have been improved today, but it was pretty good," Mason added. 

Gremlins senior Wyatt Liston placed fourth overall with a 75, followed by Bryce Douglas of Gladstone and Nathan Rousseau of Escanaba, both with 81s. 

Negaunee's runner-up team finish was a pleasant surprise for Mason. The Miners have played second fiddle to Escanaba and Gladstone at most events this year. Escanaba's top golfers struggled on a number of holes, resulting in a third place team score that was slightly disappointing, though coach Brian Robinette was pleased with the effort.

"Wawonowin is a course that demands that you're on with your golf swing, on with your short game, on with the mental portion of things," Robinette said. "You have to be able to pick yourself up and dust yourself off after a double bogey. You need to keep your emotions in check. 

"Our five boys went down swinging, and I'm proud of the way they handled themselves. They put a lot of pressure on themselves, as all competitors do. The looks on their faces tell me everything I need to know."

The Gremlins will lose Liston, who with his sophomore sister Kaaren on the girls team made a formidable tandem for Houghton golf over two seasons. 

"The Listons are an awesome golf family," said Markham. "They just live for golf. They're very talented. 

"It's going to be sad to see Wyatt leave, but he won his share of U.P. championships as a team at Houghton. Kaaren is only a sophomore, and such a good solid golfer. We're looking for two more good years out of her."

Negaunee, on the other hand, had no seniors this year. Led by Mason, who will be a senior next season, the Miners will be on the watch list for a Division 1 title.

"We're going to have the same exact team next year," said Mason. "We should improve over the summer, and we'll have a good chance to win next year. We'll see how that goes."

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PHOTOS: (Top) Houghton's Gunnar Stein watches his tee shot on No. 17. (Middle) Negaunee's Carter Mason chips onto the No. 14 green. (Photos by Keith Shelton.)

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.)