Performance: Lakeview's Andrew Walker
June 27, 2016
Battle Creek Lakeview senior – Golf
Walker finished his high school career June 11 with his second straight MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals championship, shooting a two-day (68-75) 143 and then edging Plymouth’s Jack Boczar in a one-hole playoff at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University to earn the Michigan National Guard “Performance of the Week” for June 6-12.
Walker then was named Mr. Golf for the third straight season by the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association, and since has qualified to return for the second straight summer to the U.S. Junior Amateur, which this year will be played July 18-23 at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn. (He also played in the U.S. Amateur as a 14-year-old in 2013, becoming one of the youngest players ever to tee up at the prestigious event.) Walker this spring became the only player in the 16-year history of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference to win the individual league championship all four seasons, and he shot par or better in 14 of his 20 rounds. Lakeview finished sixth as a team at the MHSAA Final and won the title when Walker was a freshman in 2013.
Boasting a grade-point average above 4.0 and among the top 10 in his class at Lakeview, Walker picked Michigan State University over Duke, Michigan, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State, among others. He followed his brother Filmore Walker IV, also a former high school golf standout, at Lakeview, and the influence of his father Filmore III and godfather and uncle, Gene Hughes, in wearing the straw hat that has become something of a stylistic signature as Andrew has succeeded on the state and nationwide levels. Walker also played basketball as a freshman and sophomore.
Coach Tony Evans said: "I have known Andrew since he was little because his older brother played for me. Andrew was playing in high-level tournaments at an early age, and everyone expected him to be not only one of the best Michigan players, but one of the best in the nation. There are two things that stand out to me when it comes to Andrew Walker: One is that fact that he was able to handle all of the external and internal pressure and fulfill the expectations that were placed on him by others. The second is the respect that I have for him as a person. Andrew is not only a brilliant student, 4.12 GPA and a 31 on the ACT, he is a kind, funny, and respectful young man. It has been such a pleasure to watch him grow into an honorable young man who has represented our community with utmost integrity. Andrew Walker is not only one of the best high school golfers in Michigan, but one of the best in the nation as well. I can honestly say that Andrew Walker is a better person than he is a golfer. It has been my pleasure and honor to be his coach over the past four years."
Performance Point: (High school golf) meant a ton to me. I can’t really put into words what it meant to me, actually. It’s a great honor to say what I’ve done, and I’m thankful to the people who helped me get through that journey along the way, teammates, coaches, family, friends – whoever they are, they all helped. It definitely was a big part of my golfing career, definitely a big part of my life. I’m glad to say how big a part of me it became; I had some of the best times of my life with the five or six other guys. Looking back it’s really amazing, everything we’ve done, everything I’ve accomplished with those guys.”
Breaking the tie: “We’ve (Walker and Boczar) known each other quite a long time, played a bunch of junior tournaments together. I made it a little more stressful in the second round than I wanted, but it was a ton of fun. Playoffs always pressure-wise are a step above regular competition for me; there’s no time to make up for any mistakes you make, and it demands your best. … Jack told me (after), ‘Congratulations,’ and I was like, ‘Thanks buddy. They was great, a ton of fun.’”
Big brother knows: “I picked up quite a few things from my brother. Definitely work ethic was one of those things. Whenever he was off, he’d start to work on it, and that’s a big thing – don’t get upset or anything, just work on it … go out and fix it. Patience is another thing. Growing up playing golf, I was not a patient kid when I wasn’t playing well. My big brother was a person who helped me grasp the concept that you’ll not always have your game, but be patient, wait for it and do the best with what you have that day.”
Picking up from the pros: “I look to different people for different aspects of the game. I look at Jordan Spieth, he’s one of the better players in the world, and his putting. … I look at a player like Zach Johnson; his wedge game is phenomenal. My game is my game. I won’t and don’t play like any other player; I play like me. But that’s definitely something I look out for, tips and stuff to help improve different aspects, playing-wise and strategy-wise, and I try to make them my own."
Making a connection: “I’m planning on studying applied engineering sciences … and I’m definitely looking into supply chain management. My dad worked as vice president of the Asia Pacific supply chain for Kellogg’s for a while, and that showed me a bit about that and how it all works. I’m a math/science geek, so it goes with what I want to do.”
– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2015-16 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom, or protecting lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2015-16 honorees
June 8: Sekayi Bracey, East Kentwood girls track & field - Read
June 1: Anna Jefferson, Oak Park girls track & field - Read
May 25: Connor Bandel, Oxford boys track & field - Read
May 18: Kalyn Breckenridge, Birch Run girls soccer - Read
May 11: Morgan Beadlescomb, Algonac boys track & field - Read
May 4: Abby Krzywiecki, Farmington Hills Mercy softball - Read
April 27: Mike Mokma, Holland Christian baseball - Read
April 20: Abby Divozzo, Cadillac girls soccer - Read
March 30: Cassius Winston, Detroit U-D Jesuit boys basketball - Read
March 23: Kierra Fletcher, Warren Cousino girls basketball - Read
March 16: Jacob Montague, Grosse Pointe South swimming & diving - Read
March 9: Kyle Tuttle, St. Charles boys bowling - Read
March 2: Brittney Schnicke, Caledonia girls bowling - Read
Feb. 24: Kamari Newman, Detroit East English boys basketball - Read
Feb. 17: Jason Whitens, Powers North Central boys basketball - Read
Feb. 10: Rachel Hogan, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Read
Feb. 3: Nehemiah Mork, Midland Dow swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 27: Mardrekia Cook, Muskegon girls basketball - Read
Jan. 20: Sage Castillo, Hartland wrestling - Read
Jan. 13: Rob Zofchak, Dexter swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 6: Tyler Deming, Caro wrestling – Read
Dec. 15: Jordan Weber, East Jordan boys basketball – Read
Dec. 8: Kaitlyn Geers, Kent City girls basketball – Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Andrew Walker watches one of his shots during the MHSAA LP Division 1 Final at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University. (Middle) Walker (right) and Plymouth's Jack Boczar shake hands after Walker won a one-hole playoff to clinch the individual title. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Hockey Players Transferring Winter Puck Skills to Spring Golf Swings
By Tom Lang
Special for MHSAA.com
May 26, 2023
When the Michigan seasons shift from winter to spring, some high school golf teams are a little more eager than others for the hockey season to officially end.
This is especially true for the school golf programs in Brighton, Hartland and Muskegon Mona Shores – examples of boys teams that love having hockey players transition from the indoor frozen ice to play golf outdoors on the lush green grass.
“I would take a golf team full of hockey players any day,” said Hartland golf coach Nathan Oake. “I love them.”
We can tell, because his program is full of them.
Hartland and Brighton each have eight hockey players on their 16-golfer varsity and JV rosters.
Mona Shores has three hockey players this year, but usually has more. In 2023 it’s Oliver MacDonald (all-state honorable mention in hockey), Nathan McNarland and Nicholas Taylor, who was voted Division 1 all-state golf last spring, then leading his team to fifth place at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final.
Brighton golfer Winston Lerch was also Division 1 all-state last year in golf and an assistant captain on the hockey team this winter that finished Division 1 runner-up to Detroit Catholic Central. Here in 2023, he shot a 65 to open the season at Oakland University for medalist and has committed to Grand Valley State for golf with his 72-stroke average.
Joining Lerch in the Bulldogs boys golf program are hockey players like Levi Pennala, winner of hockey’s Wall Award sponsored by State Champs as the top high school goalie. Pennala – who recently shot 72 at the Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship tournament, his career low for high school golf – finished in the top 30 last year at the LPD1 Final. Then early this spring when he was away at a high-level junior hockey tournament, freshman hockey player Adam Forcier stepped in and shot a school record 18-hole round for a freshman at 73. Jacob Daavetilla also works into the starting lineup at times.
Forcier tied the record of Davis Codd – who, as a pro hockey player on leave from the Saginaw Spirit OHL hockey team when COVID-19 shut down the league, won the LPD1 Final in 2021 for Brighton.
Brighton golf coach Jimmy Dewling said Codd was one of the earliest to prove to others you can play both hockey and golf and excel. In fact, that June in 2021, Codd went to an NHL scouting camp in Pennsylvania before the Golf Finals, drove overnight back to Forest Akers to play the two championship rounds, won the title, then immediately returned to Pennsylvania to resume the hockey camp.
“On our team, we believe, and TBone (Codd) was a perfect example of it, if there’s any time you have the opportunity to be competitive, it is going to make you a more well-rounded competitor and therefore better at your particular sport,” Dewling said.
“We like hockey players. In the winter, they have to think to where the puck is going, be smart enough to react, and understand how that emotion is going to carry over from one play to the next. When it’s your shift you have to forget about the last shift, or take something from the last shift and put it into the next shift, to have consistent play.
“It’s the same on the golf course,” Dewling continued. “It’s one hole to the next, one shot at a time, being tough, and that’s only going to come from competition reps. We love the athletic ability more so than anything; the toughness and competitiveness all year.”
In addition to Lerch and Pennala starting on varsity golf, they are joined by traditional golfers Matt Doyle, Riley Morton and Andrew Daily, who is committed to Wayne State and finished LPD1 runner-up last spring.
Going into the 2023 golf postseason, Brighton is ranked No. 2 in Division 1. The Bulldogs have won the Next Tee Invite at Oakland Hills, the North Star Invite at Plum Hollow and the KLAA Conference Championship – earning Brighton’s first conference title since 2007. The Bulldogs also were runners-up at The Meadows Invite at Grand Valley State University. The team is averaging 297 for 18 holes.
Oake admitted this is a rebuilding year for Hartland’s golf program. The varsity lineup has only two returning players with varsity golf experience – Keller King and Brady Betteley.
“So, we opted to keep a group of tough competitors with a solid combination of speed and strength – and who are not concerned about the cold conditions that we play in,” Oake quipped.
Five others rotate into the Eagles’ golf starting lineup with King and Betteley: Isaac Frantti is an all-state hockey defensemen playing his first season of golf but shot a career-low 79 at American Dunes recently. He just signed a United State Premier Hockey League tender to play in Connecticut next year. Ian Kastamo scored the winning goal in Hartland’s Division 2 hockey championship victory in 2022, and LJ Sabala is a varsity hockey player as well.
Then there are two non-hockey freshmen getting shots to start occasionally – Dallas Korponic, who finished third at his weight at the Individual Wrestling Finals, and Michael Maurin. Five more sophomores and juniors are hockey players on the JV golf team.
“We hope to be competitive with (Brighton) again soon, but they have the talent to make a big splash this year,” Oake said. “I also play golf at the same club as many Brighton players, so I see them quite a bit and we are friendly. When the Brighton team walked by our team on a recent Monday and all said hello to me and our guys, one of my players looked at me and said that this was the biggest difference between hockey and golf. In hockey, the small talk would be (traded) for the ice, and it would not be very nice out there.
“Either way, I believe both sports are filled with fierce competitors and respect, but when the game is over a handshake and a golf hat tip are offered to the victor.”
This story was updated and reposted with permission of MIGolfJournal.com.
PHOTOS (Top) Brighton takes a team photo after finishing third at last season’s LPD1 Final, and all five golfers are back this season including hockey players Levi Pennala (second from left) and Winston Lerch (second from right.) (Middle) Hartland’s Ian Kastamo (16) takes a faceoff against Brighton this winter. (Below) Mona Shores’ Nicholas Taylor fires an iron shot. (Photos courtesy of High School Sports Scene, Sapshots Photography and Mona Shores’ athletic department, respectively.)