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

Mid Peninsula's Boys Sweep UPD3 Titles, Including 1st Team Championship

By Jason Juno
Special for

June 1, 2023

HYDE – The Rock Mid Peninsula boys won their first Upper Peninsula Finals boys golf championship Thursday, earning it in Division 3 at Highland Golf Club near Escanaba.

The Wolverines finished with a score of 324, 13 strokes fewer than runner-up Ontonagon.

“It’s the first time in school history for us, so we’re pretty excited about it,” Mid Pen coach Earlene VanDamme said. “The kids put a lot of work into this year.”

They did it with three golfers among the individual top five, led by medalist Bradly VanDamme, who shot a 77, and tournament runner-up Michael Englund, who carded a 78. Christian VanDamme was close behind with an 81, which was good for a fifth-place tie.

Big Bay de Noc’s Nick Desjarden watches a tee shot at Highland Golf Club. The three golfers have shot consistently around 80 all year. 

“Our top three boys were pretty equivalent. They were within one or two strokes of each other,” Coach VanDamme said. “I kept messing with the order. It didn’t matter where I put them, it always ended up that they were just all always kind of consistent.”

Bradly VanDamme said he has been shooting consistently in the 80s. He shot an 80 here during a practice round. 

“So a 77 today was huge,” he said. “I never expected to play as good as I did today.”

Fixing a key part of his game helped.

“I got off the tee well; usually that’s my struggle,” VanDamme said. “But every tee, I just thought, if I can keep this one in play and keep it in the fairway, then this course is pretty easy if you can keep it in the fairway.”

He said he was happiest about the team title.

“It’s great. All the guys are really excited. That was our goal coming into this – we didn’t care how we all individually placed, we just wanted to win as a team,” he said.

Watersmeet’s Edmond Williams putts during his round.That’s the way team leaders think.

“Bradly is a strong leader for the team,” Coach VanDamme said. “He continuously is just prepping the team, saying, ‘Come on guys, this is about the team score. We all need to do this.’”

His brother Christian VanDamme was just four strokes behind him.

“It helps that (Bradly’s) brother is on the team because he is very competitive with him,” said Coach VanDamme, who also is Bradly and Christian’s mother. “And they put a lot of extra practice in trying to better themselves, so they do practice a lot.”

Ontonagon was team runner-up for the second year in a row.

The Gladiators were led by Abi Pestka, who finished in third place and shot an 80, and Jerry Majurin, who tied Christian VanDamme with an 81.

“That’s the best the boys have done as a group,” Ontonagon coach Jim Jessup said. “Everybody was fairly close in terms of their scores.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Rock Mid Peninsula celebrates its first UP Finals championship in boys golf Thursday. (Middle) Big Bay de Noc’s Nick Desjarden watches a tee shot at Highland Golf Club. (Below) Watersmeet’s Edmond Williams putts during his round. (Photos by Jason Juno.)