It's Championship Time for Badker, While Houghton Holds On for Team Title

By Todd Rose
Special for Second Half

June 1, 2022

BARK RIVER – From the Division 3 boys basketball championship game at the Breslin Center to the Great Northern Conference golf final at Escanaba Country Club, the story of much of Brady Badker’s senior year has been second place.

That changed Wednesday afternoon, as Menominee’s Badker won the individual championship at the Upper Peninsula Division 1 Final at Sage Run Golf Course in Bark River.

“This one feels good to get off my chest,” Badker remarked after the win. “The last two things I cared about most were basketball and golf, and (it was) runner-up, runner-up. But, this one was kind of the one I wanted really bad because last year I came up short.”

Badker shot a 75 on Wednesday to earn a three-stroke win over Houghton’s Marino Pisani.

Badker marked the front nine as the place where he earned his advantage.

“I’d say on the front nine my approach shots were kind of getting real close,” he said. “I got good looks at birdies instead of those long five-foot par putts. Those are the ones you have to save out here because it’s a tough course. When you’ve got those five-footers for birdie instead of five-footers for par, that really helps to keep your mindset going.”

Aside from the added challenge of wind, the Sage Run course itself presents a challenge on its own.

“A lot of courses that we play up here, you’re hitting wedges and all that in the greens,” noted Badker. “Here, you’re hitting 8-irons and 9-irons, so it’s a little bit higher. You have to think about the wind and the bunkers around the green and behind the hole. If you can hit it long or if you can hit it left, it’s a lot tougher. You kind of have to hit your spots or you’re going to struggle here.”

Runner-up Pisani, a Houghton sophomore, felt he had a bit of a rough start and end but still enjoyed the sunny, warm day at Sage Run.

“I thought it was a pretty solid round,” Pisani said. “I started off slow. I had a triple and a couple doubles but rebounded well, stayed composed and kept level-headed. … Somebody told me I was about one back of (Badker) with four to go, and I struggled to close out a bit. I took a double on one of my last holes and had a couple missed putts, but I’ll try not to think about it too much.”

Houghton golfWhile Pisani finished runner-up in the individual standings – ahead of a three-way tie between Cole Myllyla (Kingsford), Cooper Pigeon (Iron Mountain) and Tyler Annala (Westwood) for third – his Houghton Gremlins shot a collective 329 to take home the team championship.

“Overall, I thought the team did great,” Pisani said. “Every guy performed well, and I think it was just a great day for golf in general.”

Houghton coach Corey Markham shared his excitement as well.

“I’m really proud of the kids,” he added. “We had never seen the course until yesterday. We came down to do a practice round, and the wind was howling like 30, 35 mile an hour. So it was hard to get a read on how you’re playing the course in those kind of winds. But, they got to see the course and how it was laid out, so that really was great.

“They showed up. I told them going in if we could average between 80 and 85, we’d be right in the mix. We had Marino go down into the 70s, and the rest were all between 80 and 85. So, I’m really proud of how they played today.”

The U.P. Finals championship rounds out a successful year for the Gremlins, who also collected top honors in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference.

“It was a really good year for us,” said Markham. “We started off slow. We had a late spring, and we had no practice before we played our two first meets and our course opened one day before our third meet. We had a slow start, but once we started playing and getting in a groove we won most of the meets we played in the last quarter of the season.”

Finishing second with a score of 334 was GNC champion Marquette.

“Going in, I thought if the guys played well and had a really good day there would be a good chance we’d be in the mix,” said Marquette coach Ben Smith. “I bet if you asked the kids while they were out there, you probably wouldn’t get too many ‘it’s going great Coach’ responses. But, conditions were tough out there. Obviously, the wind and the course itself is not easy. … But, credit to the kids, they hung in there.”

Smith added that close matches throughout the season helped prep Marquette for the competitive nature of the U.P. Finals.

“We’ve had a couple matches this year that came down to a shot or two,” he said. “So, I think the kids kind of bought into the idea that every swing matters and even if it doesn’t seem like it’s your day, just try and get the ball in the hole. Credit to them, they hung in there for each other and were able to come out with a second-place finish.”

The margins at the top of the team standings were thin as the top five all shot within 12 strokes of each other. After Houghton (329) and Marquette (334) were Calumet and Kingsford tied at 337, with Escanaba rounding out the top five at 341.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Brady Badker of Menominee tees off on hole 16 at Sage Run Golf Course during Wednesday afternoon's MHSAA U.P. Division 1 Boys Golf Final in Bark River. (Middle) Houghton holds up its first-place team trophy. (Photos by Todd Rose.)

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

By Tom Lang
Special for

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.)