Mid Pen Senior Wins Family Matchup, North Central Takes Back Team Title

By Jason Juno
Special for MHSAA.com

May 30, 2024

ESCANABA – Rock Mid Peninsula’s Bradly VanDamme doesn’t get much better competition than what his eighth-grade brother Christian brings to the golf course.

Last year, Bradly’s only win against Christian came at the Upper Peninsula Division 3 Final. This year, Bradly finished ahead of his brother in every event leading up to the championship tournament, but a second consecutive U.P. title still wasn’t a sure thing as Bradly wound down his senior year.

“We were waking up this morning, and we didn’t really know who was going to get it,” Bradly said. “We’ve been tight all year.”

Bradly came out on top with a 73, and Christian finished runner-up with a 76 on Thursday at Escanaba Country Club.

“It’s sweet,” Bradly said of claiming two straight U.P. Finals titles. “It’s what I dreamed of. Just grinding all summer long, especially all spring and the winter going with my buddies and hitting the simulator. It’s just what you strive for.”

He said he got off the tee well all day.

“I just put myself in some good positions,” he said. “If you can get off the tee well, this course is relatively short.”

Mid Peninsula’s Christian VanDamme sends an approach shot on No. 13.His mom, and coach, Earlene VanDamme, said he’s done well in every tournament this season.

“He’s a strong player and he put a lot of development into it this past year, and it’s paid off again,” she said. 

His practice and hard work got him where he is, she said. So did a little motivation from his brother.

“I think that is a good driving force,” she said.

Bradly VanDamme said his brother’s game is strong overall.

“He’s got a very bright future,” he said.

Powers North Central won the Division 3 team title with a score of 338, and Lake Linden-Hubbell was second at 349. The title was the Jets' second in three seasons. 

“This is kind of sweet,” North Central coach Scott Farnsworth said, while choking up. “Good group of kids. I have 12 kids out, all very enthusiastic, these guys work hard for me all the time.”

He knew they had a good chance of winning going into the event. The Jets lost four times to Division 2 schools in their conference but were close to them each time.

“This whole group, you hear of gym rats, these guys are golf rats,” he said. “We get done with the meet, they’re going to play another 18. They are really nice to have, they get out there, do whatever I ask. They just get out and play. That’s what you’ve got to do.”

North Central was led by Alex Popkorn, who carded an 82 and finished in a tie for fourth individually. Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Bradley Axford was third with a 78 and Cedarville/DeTour’s Drew Moser also tied for fourth with an 82.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Powers North Central holds up its latest championship trophy Thursday at Escanaba Country Club. (Middle) Mid Peninsula’s Christian VanDamme sends an approach shot on No. 13. (Photos by Jason Juno.)

State Champs! Network: 2024 Lower Peninsula Boys Golf Finals Highlights

June 13, 2024