Performance: NorthPointe Christian's Erik Fahlen Jr

June 15, 2018

Erik Fahlen Jr.
Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian junior – Golf

The NorthPointe ace fired a two-day 71-67-138 to win the individual championship at last weekend’s Lower Peninsula Division 4 Final at Forest Akers East, leading the Mustangs to their first team title since 1996 in earning the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.” Fahlen’s 138 was the lowest score in LPD4/Class D Finals history since the tournament went to a two-round format in 1994 and tied for fourth-lowest for all divisions – even through he played through steady rain in East Lansing.

The victory was his fourth this spring, following championships at the Kent County Classic (shooting 74), Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver final (68) and Muskegon Mona Shores Invitational (73 plus a playoff). He also took second at his Regional and at the Katke Classic and averaged 74.9 strokes per round. NorthPointe, on the strength of two top-10 individual finishes by Fahlen and seventh-place Logan Holtkamp, a third that just missed by Hayden VanErmen and career-low scores from its fifth player Lance VanErmen, locked up the LPD4 team title with a few holes to play Saturday on the way to winning by 33 strokes. The individual race, meanwhile, came down to Fahlen, Suttons Bay’s Thomas Hursey and reigning champion Austin Fauser of Clinton – Fahlen and Fauser were tied with three holes left before Fahlen finished birdie-par-birdie to clinch the medalist honor.

Fahlen had finished 11th at the LPD4 Final in 2017, then decided to make golf a year-round pursuit playing on three junior tours last fall and winter that took him to Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee among southern locales. He has a busy playing schedule mapped out for this summer, filled with Golf Association of Michigan (GAM), United States Golf Association (USGA) and American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) events. He also carries a 3.6 grade-point average as he looks toward college and continuing to golf at that level, and he’ll have one more opportunity next spring to lead NorthPointe for his dad Erik Sr., the Mustangs’ coach.

Coach (and father) Erik Fahlen Sr. said: “He played probably 20-25 tournaments outside of high school since last state finals, and he won nine of those. … (Heading into last fall) he hadn’t ever cracked the 60s, and then over two months he had two 69s and a 67. He got the confidence to finish, got in his mind he can shoot in the 60s – he’s just got to finish it up. … (On Saturday), I’m talking to him at the 18th tee and I said, ‘We’ll, you’re one stroke ahead but you both (Fahlen and Fauser) have one to play. A birdie will win it, par might win it, and with a bogey you will be a playoff.’ He looked at me and said, ‘I’m not going to be in any playoff. I’m going to birdie this hole.’ Those experiences in tournaments have helped him finish. When you’re golfing, you’ve got to learn how to finish.”

Performance Point: “It was a really special weekend, getting to play with the three seniors on our team and it was our last tournament together,” Erik Jr. said. “It really couldn’t have gone any better for us – we played our two lowest rounds of the year at state finals, which is really cool, and I played well individually. We know that we have the game. We were looking for those numbers all year, and they hadn’t really come. It’s a 36-hole tournament, and you’ve just got to take it hole by hole and do our best to shoot the lowest score.”

Rain? No problem: “I use a push cart, and that definitely helps with rain. I’m able to keep multiple towels on my cart and I have an umbrella, and my dad was making sure everything I had was staying dry … And (it’s about) not letting the rain bug you. You don’t want it to really change your game. You just want to go out and play the golf ball, not let it distract you like it happened to many other players, like ‘Hey, it really stinks playing in this rain. I’m getting soaked.’ I didn’t really worry about that. I just go out and play a round.”

Mustangs striding: “It’s sweet to bring back the life of NorthPointe golf. We went through a couple struggles four or five years ago and the team wasn’t looking very good, and now we’ve got a couple young kids in, and my dad gets the coaching job and it kinda gives the program new life – new motivation, that we’ve got to be this championship team and bring a state title back to NorthPointe.”

Thanks Dad: “I’ve been playing in the little junior tournaments since I could walk, really, since I was a really small kid. He was my coach all along for that, so for him to be my coach now since I started going to high school, it’s cool having him be my coach and being the coach of me as well my friends on the team, and having a special connection not only as coach but as a father as well.”

Great leads to follow: “Of course I love looking at Jordan Spieth and how he was in his junior days, and how he was the king of junior golf. That’s something huge to look up to. And there’s a couple of local high schoolers, kids that went to Detroit Catholic Central like Ben Smith, James Piot and Sean Niles. They graduated last year. Those are kids I look up to, to try to get my game to be like theirs; they all went to play somewhere (in college) big and pretty cool for golf. I do not know them personally, but I played in tournaments against them. They were definitely big names; they’d all win these individual junior tournaments and state championships, and I’m trying to get my golf game to be like theirs.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2017-18 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army 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 protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2017-18 honorees:
June 7: Paxton Johnson, Escanaba golf - Read
May 31: Lydia Goble, Schoolcraft softball - Read
May 24: Corinne Jemison, East Kentwood track & field - Read
May 17: Reagan Wisser, Richland Gull Lake soccer - Read
May 10: Clayton Sayen, Houghton track & field - Read
May 3: Autumn Roberts, Traverse City Central tennis - Read
April 26: Thomas Robinson, Wyoming Lee track & field - Read
March 29: Carlos Johnson, Benton Harbor basketball - Read
March 22: Shine Strickland-Gills, Saginaw Heritage basketball - Read
March 15: Skyler Cook-Weeks, Holland Christian swimming - Read
March 8: Dakota Greer, Howard City Tri-County wrestling - Read
March 1: Camree' Clegg, Wayne Memorial basketball - Read
February 23: Aliah Robertson, Sault Ste. Marie swimming - Read
February 16: Austin O'Hearon, Eaton Rapids wrestling - Read
February 9: Sophia Wiard, Muskegon Oakridge basketball - Read
February 2: Brenden Tulpa, Hartland hockey - Read
January 25: Brandon Whitman, Dundee wrestling - Read
January 18: Derek Maas, Holland West Ottawa swimming - Read
January 11: Lexi Niepoth, Bellaire basketball - Read
November 30: La'Darius Jefferson, Muskegon football - Read
November 23: Ashley Turak, Farmington Hills Harrison swimming - Read
November 16: Bryce Veasley, West Bloomfield football - Read 
November 9: Jose Penaloza, Holland soccer - Read
November 2: Karenna Duffey, Macomb L'Anse Creuse North cross country - Read
October 26: Anika Dy, Traverse City West golf - Read
October 19: Andrew Zhang, Bloomfield Hills tennis - Read
October 12: Nolan Fugate, Grand Rapids Catholic Central football - Read
October 5: Marissa Ackerman, Munising tennis - Read
September 28: Minh Le, Portage Central soccer - Read
September 21: Olivia Theis, Lansing Catholic cross country - Read
September 14: Maddy Chinn, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian's Erik Fahlen Jr. follows through on a swing this season. (Middle) Fahlen poses at Forest Akers East after clinching the Lower Peninsula Division 4 title. (Top photo courtesy of the Fahlen family; bottom photo by

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)