Performance: Mona Shores' Nathan Taylor

May 13, 2019

Nathan Taylor
Muskegon Mona Shores junior – Golf

Taylor on May 3 had perhaps the highlight so far of an eventful season, shooting a 71 to earn the medalist honor at the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association championship tournament at Stonegate Golf Club while leading Mona Shores to the team title and earning the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week” for April 29-May 5. Reeths-Puffer had won the title the last two seasons, and Taylor brought a championship back home to his family as well – his father Tim, a 1990 Shores grad, also had won the tournament as a high schooler three decades ago.

Nathan Taylor and his team have enjoyed a significant rise this spring after closing the 2018 season shooting a 333 to finish fourth at their Division 1 Regional. Taylor had lowered both his nine and 18-hole averages to 39.6 and 79.2 strokes, respectively, heading into this past weekend. The latter remains on the downswing as he shot a 71 this past Friday at the Montague Invitational, finishing second after losing in a playoff, and also led the Sailors with a 78 on Saturday at the Wayne Wire Tournament in Frankenmuth. Mona Shores played in the Big Rapids Tournament on Monday, and Taylor shot a 73. The 71s at the GMAA and Montague events were his season-low rounds. His team, meanwhile, shot a 294 at the GMAA to win by 32 strokes.

Hockey always has been Taylor’s main sport – he plays center for the Fox Motors U18 AAA team, and father Tim formerly served as president of the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League. But golf has become a passion, and Taylor – last year the lone sophomore in the Mona Shores lineup and the only freshman in 2017 – has improved significantly and quickly. Taylor also carries a 3.0 GPA, with his science classes among his favorites. He has another year of high school to build on all of that success, and certainly is on his way this spring.

Coach Scott Volkmann said: “Nathan means a lot to the team, and the team means a lot to Nathan. I thought his performance (at the GMAA) was the turning point of his high school golf career. He is averaging about three shots lower on his 9-hole average and six shots lower on his 18-hole average (than as a freshman).”

Performance Point: “Going into it, I knew there was basically this one team there we had to beat that had beat us the past two years,” Taylor said of the GMAA event, referring to Reeths-Puffer. “Coach told our guys and me to just go in and play the course and don’t worry about anything else. The score will take care of itself. I just went out and played. I’ve been hitting the ball well, and I had a good score. I had no idea (my dad had won it too); I’m serious. I knew that he had a lot of great accomplishments – I did not know he had won city. I texted him and told him what I shot, and he texted me back and said we might be the first father/son duo to both win the city. That’s when I knew. I just kinda got a big smile. It’s pretty sweet to take after your dad.”

Practice pays off: “I have a younger brother (Nicholas) who will most likely be better than I am. He's in eighth grade so he'll be up next year. My brother and I spend a lot of time out on the course together. We're out there every day, after practice even. We'll go out and play nine; if we can squeeze in 18, we'll do that. My dad got me into it, my brother and I both. But golf wasn't even my main sport until this year, honestly. I've always been better at hockey. This year, the beginning of the season, we had a scrimmage and I shot 74, and I just kinda followed up from that and have been having good rounds.”

Making the jump: “I got a new driver. I got a new putter. My putting has gotten a lot better. My drive has gotten a lot better. My swing, my whole game, managing my game, just came together this year. It was actually really weird. It’s still weird to think about. Last year I had one 70s round at a JV invite, and everything else was in the 80s. This year I’ve had five or six 70s scores. Something clicked.”

State would be great: “This offseason we put in a lot of work, and so far it’s paid off. Obviously the goal is to go win states. To win Regionals would be really cool. I think we have to beat (No. 3) Rockford … you never know. We’ve got a good chance. Just to get to states would be sweet. We actually played at that course (The Fortress, home of this season’s Division 1 Final), so we’re already kinda focusing on states.”

Jordan rules: “Jordan Spieth – I think he’s always positive. He drives me to slow down. He’s really smooth with everything. (He) stays calm. I take after that, being calm and relaxed. … I think I get my competitiveness from hockey. I hate to lose at literally anything I do.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2018-19 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard recognizes 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 protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Past 2018-19 honorees

May 2: Ally Gaunt, New Baltimore Anchor Bay soccer - Read
April 25:
Kali Heivilin, Three Rivers softball - Read
March 28:
Rickea Jackson, Detroit Edison basketball - Read
March 21:
Noah Wiswary, Hudsonville Unity Christian basketball - Read
March 14:
Cam Peel, Spring Lake swimming - Read
March 7:
Jordan Hamdan, Hudson wrestling - Read
February 28:
Kevon Davenport, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling - Read
February 21:
Reagan Olli, Gaylord skiing - Read 
February 14:
Jake Stevenson, Traverse City Bay Reps hockey - Read
February 7: Molly Davis, Midland Dow basketball - Read
January 31:
Chris DeRocher, Alpena basketball - Read
January 24:
Imari Blond, Flint Kearsley bowling - Read
January 17: William Dunn, Quincy basketball - Read
November 29:
Dequan Finn, Detroit Martin Luther King football - Read
November 22: Paige Briggs, Lake Orion volleyball - Read
November 15:
Hunter Nowak, Morrice football - Read
November 8:
Jon Dougherty, Detroit Country Day soccer - Read
November 1:
Jordan Stump, Camden-Frontier volleyball - Read
October 25:
Danielle Staskowski, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep golf - Read
October 18:
Adam Bruce, Gladstone cross country - Read
October 11: Ericka VanderLende, Rockford cross country - Read
October 4:
Kobe Clark, Schoolcraft football - Read
September 27: Jonathan Kliewer, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern soccer - Read
September 20: Kiera Lasky, Bronson volleyball - Read
September 13: Judy Rector, Hanover-Horton cross country - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Mona Shores’ Nathan Taylor lines up a putt during the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association championship tournament May 3. (Middle) Taylor watches an approach shot on the way to winning the title. (Photos courtesy of Local Sports Journal.)

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.)