Norway Sweeps Team, Individual Championships as Anderson Wraps Up 1st Title

By Jason Juno
Special for

June 1, 2022

IRON RIVER – Norway’s Drew Anderson finished second individually at his Upper Peninsula Boys Golf Final as a freshman.

Now, as a senior, he’s a U.P. champion. And so is his team.

Anderson won the individual title with an 83 on Wednesday at the Division 2 Final at Young’s Golf Course. As a team, Norway clinched its second-straight Division 2 championship with a 353.   

“I’ve been working for this moment for four years, so I’m pretty happy,” Anderson said. “But I’m also happy for the squad. We’ve been working hard and always wanted this.”

Norway hadn’t won a U.P. Finals boys golf title before last season since 1988, despite seven runner-up finishes. Norway coach Ben Leiker believes his father, Dan, was on that 1988 team.

“(Drew) comes from a family of golfers; his dad was a great golfer, his grandpa was a great golfer,” Leiker said. “To be an Anderson in Norway, you have to be a good golfer.”

Drew certainly seems to be. 

“For him to be a senior and go out on top was nice,” Leiker said.

St. Ignace golfAnderson had one of his highest scores of the season Wednesday, but Leiker said the wind was the main culprit.

“His number doesn’t look as good as his performance actually was,” Leiker said.

Anderson said he struggled to hit greens because of the wind.

“I tend to hit a high ball, so it really took a factor on me,” he said. “I only hit three greens today actually. The wedges were on point, but tough greens, too; it was pretty quick. It’s definitely different than the home course, so (I was) happy I could walk away with a win.”

He was two strokes better than teammate Carson Chartier, who shot an 85, which was good for third place in the individual standings.

“They’ve been carrying us the whole year,” Leiker said. 

St. Ignace finished one stroke back of Norway in the team standings, shooting a 354.

Carson Bigger of St. Ignace was second individually with an 84, and teammate Trevor Visnaw was fourth with an 87. Hancock’s Chad Nordstrom placed fifth with an 88.

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PHOTOS (Top) Norway’s Carson Chartier putts on a windy 18th green during Wednesday’s Upper Peninsula Division 2 Final at Young’s Golf Course. (Middle) St. Ignace’s Ely North advances his ball out of a bunker on the 17th hole. (Photos by Jason Juno.)

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.)