Piedmonte-Lang's 1-Putt Finish Gives Greenhills Championship Sweep

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

June 11, 2022

FRANKENMUTH – Ann Arbor Greenhills senior Cale Piedmonte-Lang had one objective in mind, but ultimately he couldn’t have been happier that he did NOT achieve it. 

Stepping up to the par-5, 529-yard 18th hole at The Fortress during the second and final day of the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Boys Golf Final, Piedmonte-Lang was tied individually with Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Will Preston after recording a birdie on the par-3, 17th hole. 

Piedmonte-Lang had one goal for the 18th: Get a par and into a playoff for the individual title.

“I hit iron off of the tee,” Piedmonte-Lang said. 

After hitting iron off the tee, iron with his second shot and then a wedge to the green, Piedmonte-Lang found himself with roughly 25-foot putt for birdie that seemed like it was akin to putting down a steep hill of concrete.

“I was just trying trickle it to the hole,” he said. “That was one of the fastest putts I had all day. I was just trying to two-putt.”

Lo and behold, the ball ended up not only trickling toward the hole, but in it for a birdie that gave Piedmonte-Lang a one-shot win individually with a two-day total of 143 (72-71). 

Preston shot a 2-under 70 on Saturday to finish at an even-par total of 144, while Mason Anderson of Belding was a shot behind Preston in third place at 145 (73-72). 

“It shocked me a little,” Piedmonte-Lang said. “I thought it was short at first, but it kept going. It was kind of surreal.”

Ann Arbor Greenhills golfEven more surreal was that Piedmonte-Lang also got to celebrate a team title with the rest of the Gryphons, who easily captured their first state championship in boys golf since winning the Class D title in 1994.

Greenhills finished with a two-day score of 612 (306-306), which was 20 shots ahead of runner-up Grand Rapids Catholic Central.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett was third at 635.

Piedmont-Lang had plenty of support, with senior Beau Brewer finishing fifth individually with a 150 (71-79) and sophomore Max Shulman finishing sixth at 152 (76-76) for a Greenhills team that was ranked No. 1 in the state going in.

“We got bounced early last year (in Regionals),” Greenhills head coach Michael Karr said. “We didn’t focus too much on it because we didn’t want to bring up bad feelings from last year, but we were definitely motivated this year to go further. It’s not often you have the firepower and talent to win a state title, so you want to take advantage when you’ve got the guys who are that talented to do it.”

Karr said his team got some familiarity with The Fortress when it competed in and won a tournament on the course back in April. 

The team shot a 313 that day, and obviously seemed to like playing the course during the MHSAA Tournament. 

The Gryphons shot a 306 on Friday to take a 10-shot lead over Traverse City Francis going into the second day, and the message from Karr was clear going into Saturday’s final round.

“We wanted to win today’s 18 holes,” Karr said. “That’s what I told the guys. We still had to be aggressive, we still had to be smart. Let’s win today’s 18 holes and leave no doubt.”

Despite windier conditions on Saturday, Greenhills left no doubt as a team, and all that was left at the end was to see if Piedmont-Lang could win the individual title. 

Karr said he told Piedmont-Lang before the 17th hole how things stood, and then camped himself underneath a tree near the 18th green as Piedmont-Lang stood over his birdie attempt.

“Obviously he took the time to read his putt and read it correctly,” Karr said. 

As a result, it was the ultimately storybook ending for Piedmont-Lang and Greenhills. 

“A putt like that to win it is really something special,” Piedmont-Lang said.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Greenhills’ Cale Piedmonte-Lang, left, and GRCC’s Will Preston shake hands at the end of Saturday’s Division 3 Final at The Fortress. (Middle) Piedmonte-Lang also celebrated the team championship with the Gryphons. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

Saline's Williams-Hoak Named National Coach of the Year by LPGA Professionals

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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)