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

By Jason Juno
Special for Second Half

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.)

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)