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.”
While 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.
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.)
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Below is this week's segment – Animal Interference - Listen
In golf – it’s common to hear about birdies, eagles, maybe even an albatross. Or in my case, a snowman. But what if an actual animal interferes with your ball while in play?
There are two kinds of interference.
The first involves a ball still in motion. If you are putting and a squirrel darts out and stops or redirects your putt, you simply get a do-over from the original spot.
Off the green, if a moving ball is stopped or re-directed, you play the ball from where it ultimately stops.
If your ball is stopped and a seagull picks it up and carries it off – you just replace the ball to its original spot and proceed.
It doesn’t happen often, but now you know how to deal with squirrels and seagulls … in addition to birdies and eagles.
(PHOTO by Gary Shook.)