Mercier Claims 2nd Finals Title, Leads North Central to 1st Team Championship

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 3, 2022

HYDE — Bryson Mercier has gotten used to the idea of finishing on top of the leaderboard throughout his high school golf career.

The Powers North Central senior achieved that again here Thursday, shooting an even-par 71 for his third consecutive Upper Peninsula Division 3 Final title on a sunny and breezy day at Highland Golf Club.

Mercier’s achievements were part of an historic day for the North Central boys program, which was crowned U.P. Finals team champion for the first time with 350 strokes.

“I didn’t swing the clubs very well today,” said Mercier, who will play golf at South Dakota State University next season. “I had good drives, but every time I got on the greens I was 30 feet away. I couldn’t get any birdies.

“You just have to stay patient in a round like this. I was three under on the last six holes. I finished strong. I started hitting the ball a little better.”

North Central was the Division 3 runner-up a season ago, finishing just two strokes behind champion Chassell.

Ontonagon edged Watersmeet 397-399 for the runner-up trophy.

Mercier also was the Division 3 individual champion in 2019 as a sophomore. 

“This is great for the kids and the school,” said Jets coach Scott Farnsworth. “We’ve had some decent teams. This is icing on the cake, especially for Bryson as a senior. This is something that was really nice to have. The individual title was nice, but winning as a team was awesome.”

Mercier, who fired a two-under-par 34 on the back nine, was followed by Rock Mid Peninsula junior Michael Englund and Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Marcus Sutherland at 89.

“The course was a little tougher today,” Mercier said. “The wind was little bit of a factor, and the greens were a little slow – although they do a good job keeping this course in shape.”

Alex Pipkorn and Landen Hansen both shot 90 to tie for fourth individually for the Jets. Austin Farley rounded out the champion’s scoring with a 17th-place individual finish.

Will Immonen, Jerald Majurin and Jack Nelson all carded 98 to tie for 12th individually and lead Ontonagon. Miles McGeshick shot a 91 to tie for sixth, and Dari Hazen came in ninth with a 95 to lead Watersmeet.

Ontonagon most recently was champion back-to-back season in 2018-19.

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PHOTO Powers North Central’s boys golf team holds up its first MHSAA Finals championship trophy earned in the sport. (Photo by Todd Rose.)

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)