Lake Orion Savors Championship Sweep

June 8, 2019

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

FRANKENMUTH – After 18 years of dreaming about this moment as head coach of the Lake Orion boys golf program, the reality obviously turned out to be even better for Monty Gallaher.

Since taking over the program, there have been tears over not being able to qualify for the Finals despite playing Regionals on the home course, years with disappointing finishes when his team had qualified for the championship tournament, or simply years when there wasn’t enough talent to win much of anything.

But the only tears Gallaher and the rest of Lake Orion’s team shed after the Lower Peninsula Division 1 tournament at The Fortress in Frankenmuth on Saturday were tears of joy after the Dragons captured their first MHSAA Finals title. 

Lake Orion finished with a two-day score of 606, 11 shots better than the 617 put up by runner-up Grosse Pointe South.

Rockford was third at 621, Detroit Catholic Central shot a 623 to finish fourth and Hartland was fifth with a 624.

“I just feel a little numb right now,” Gallaher said. “I’ve known we can do this. We’re a great team. But finally seeing it happen, it’s winner winner, chicken dinner here in Frankenmuth.”

The Dragons took a 10-shot lead after posting a 294 for Friday’s first round, and actually were 18 strokes worse as a team on the second day.

But other than Grosse Pointe South, no other team was noticeably better to the degree needed to catch Lake Orion. 

South entered the day 23 shots behind Lake Orion, a gap that was too much to overcome despite its better play during the second round.

But the reigning champion rallied to earn another runner-up finish, its third in four years to go with the title won last year. 

“One of the things I stressed is that if you’re making good choices, there’s no regrets,” Grosse Pointe South head coach Rob McIntyre said. “Good choices lead to no regrets. They went out there and made some good choices today.”

Even better for Lake Orion was that it celebrated the individual champion as well after junior Justin Sui defeated Grosse Pointe South senior Coalter Smith in a playoff after each shot two-day scores of 141 (71-70).

After each parred the par-5 10th hole, Sui sank a 10-foot putt for par on the par-4, 9th hole to clinch the title as Smith was lining up a 6-footer for bogey that would have potentially forced a third playoff hole if Sui missed.

“I was really excited,” Sui said of his mindset going into the playoff. “I had the adrenaline rushing, and everyone was watching. The team was cheering me on. It felt great. I feel like I played better during the playoff than normal.”

Lake Orion senior Drew Coble flanked Sui by finishing in a tie for fourth with a two-day total of 145 (70-75). 

Senior Andrew Remer shot a 159 (76-83), and junior Zach Hay had a 161 (77-84) to round out the top four for Lake Orion.

Gallaher said having to sleep on a 10-shot lead after the first night wasn’t too nerve-racking for his team, mainly because the Dragons kept as normal a routine as possible.

Instead of staying at a hotel in Frankenmuth, the team drove back home after Friday’s round, with Remer actually attending the school’s prom Friday night. 

“I made the executive decision to sleep in our own beds,” Gallaher said. “We do all kinds of tournaments in southern Ohio and northern Michigan, where we stayed over and we didn’t play great. That was a determining factor. We didn’t win those tournaments and I said, “That’s what we are here to do, to win this tournament.’”

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PHOTOS: (Top) Lake Orion got out to a 10-stroke lead during Friday’s first round at The Fortress. (Middle) Grosse Pointe South made a run at the title Saturday, finishing second for the weekend. (Click to see more from

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

By Geoff Kimmerly 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)