Performance: Eisenhower's Ariel Chang

September 20, 2019

Ariel Chang
Utica Eisenhower junior – Golf

The Eagles’ ace shot an even-par 72 on Sept. 11 at Cherry Creek Golf Club in Shelby Township to win her third Macomb County Tournament championship. Chang – also a two-time MHSAA Finals placer – finished eight strokes ahead of the field and led Eisenhower to its second straight county team title, earning the MHSAA “Performance of the Week.”

Chang is averaging 34.8 strokes per nine-hole match this season – down nearly a full stroke from a year ago – and 71.7 strokes in tournament play, an improvement for more than 1.5 strokes per event. She tied for sixth at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final as a freshmen and finished third in 2018 behind two seniors, leading Eisenhower to 13th and then 10th-place finishes, respectively. Chang made the Division 1 all-state first team as a freshman and the all-state Dream Team (made up of the best from all divisions) as a sophomore, and she’s won all three tournaments she’s played this fall.

Eisenhower coach Jerry Griesbeck first met Chang when she was in fifth grade, noticing her impressive swing and ball-striking even then. She has a special connection to her favorite golfer to follow – the LPGA’s Megan Khang is a distant cousin and earlier this month played on the U.S. team that finished runner-up for the Solheim Cup. Chang carries a 3.71 grade-point average and is considering studying business or dentistry after she’s completed high school. She has plenty of time to decide, of course, and also has big aspirations on the course before graduating – she’s shooting to become Eisenhower’s first MHSAA Finals individual girls golf champion and aiming to help the Eagles to their first team title.

Coach Jerry Griesbeck said: “While everyone marvels Ariel’s talents on the course, there is another side of her that her teammates admire most. A trait she learned from her family: Never put herself first.  Ariel is one of the biggest cheerleaders on the team, always willing to help a teammate who needs a lift, (offer) a kind word of encouragement to another, or a golf lesson to a couple of others free of charge.”   

Performance Point: “This time around I didn’t play that great because the last two times I won I shot a 69 and 72,” Chang said. “So for me, my standards, when I play I don’t really play against other people. I play against myself, and I knew that day that I could do better than that. I left a lot of putts out there. But overall at the end of the day I still won, so I can’t be mad at myself. I enjoyed it, especially that my team won also.”

Finals in my sights: “I’ve been practicing really hard, because I got so close the past two years. So I’m going to try to win states – that’s my ultimate goal for this year. I think I’ve worked a lot on my mental (game), and it’s gotten a lot better. Like when I make a bad shot, I think about my next shot and I don’t think about my bad shot before. I play a lot of tournaments, so my mental game, it gets better as I go through the experience. I want the pressure … so I can do better.”

Eagles ready to soar: “I feel like we even got better from last year. Because I know how hard my girls push and that they really, really push themselves, so they know they can do so much better. We’ve been practicing really hard – they voluntarily practice themselves, even outside of the high school practices. They have more confidence in themselves this year. I think that’s why they’re shooting better.”

Epic driving: “My driver this year, it’s been going farther. And whenever I hit … there was this one time, I was playing with this girl and she’s like, ‘Every time you hit your driver, I feel like it goes in slow motion.’ I did get a new driver. I got the (Callaway) Epic Flash. I had the Epic before, the regular one, and I got the new one – I’ve just always loved the Epic.”

Seeing me in Megan: “When she sets up her shot, she’s all focused. But when the shot is done with, she relaxes a bit and she’s more goofy. But when it’s your turn, you get down to business and you focus on your shot. … I’m so proud of her. She’s gotten a long way.”

– Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Past honorees

Sept. 12: Jordyn Shipps, DeWitt swimming - Report

PHOTOS: (Top) Utica Eisenhower's Ariel Chang watches one of her shots during the Macomb County Tournament on Sept. 11. (Middle) Chang lines up a putt on the way to winning the championship for the third time. (Photos courtesy of C&G Newspapers.)

Potent Pair Lead Cedarville/DeTour Girls to Repeat; Ontonagon Ace Paces Field

By Jason Juno
Special for

June 1, 2023

HYDE – Cedarville and DeTour have been golfing together for just two years as a co-op – and they already have two Upper Peninsula Girls Golf Finals titles.

The Islanders repeated in Division 3 with a score of 420 on Thursday at Highland Golf Club near Escanaba. That was eight strokes better than runner-up Big Bay de Noc and 16 fewer than third-place Ontonagon.

“It’s nice,” Islanders coach Jeff Autore said. “These girls worked hard. They knew they had a chance to be defending champions. We knew we had a pretty good chance coming in. This was our goal. The girls knew it, they were determined. This is why we practice in the rain and in the snow and in the cold.

Ontonagon’s Emmy Bobula tees off during her championship round.“We expected this and we worked hard for this, and they deserve it.”

For Hayley Kohlmann, who shot a 94, and Taylor Williams, who carded a 107, it was their third-straight team title. Cedarville also won as a standalone team in 2021. 

“They’ve had a pretty good run,” Autore said. “And then we co-opped with DeTour, and Lily Plowman has been our best player all year long. She finished in the top five last year.”

Plowman also shot a 94 on Thursday. She and Kohlmann were two of just three golfers in the field to shoot under 100.

The other was medalist Emmy Bobula of Ontonagon; she shot a 90. All three were over 100 at last year’s Final, held at the same course.

Bobula shot a 113 last year.

“So I really improved this season a lot,” she said. “It was crazy, that was my PR (personal record), so yeah, pretty bonkers.”

It was definitely a good time for such a good performance. She likes playing in tournaments and doesn’t get nervous for them. There’s no bigger tournament than this one for U.P. high school golfers.

Mackinac Island’s Isabella Nitzschke hits out of a tough spot beside a tree. “It’s crazy, it’s kind of surreal,” Bobula said. “I shed a few tears because it’s my senior season. It feels pretty good.”

Her coach Jim Jessup said Bobula wanted to have a big year – and she did.

“She’s a senior, she had drive, she wanted to do things this year and she did them,” Jessup said.

It all started for her Thursday off the tee.

“Probably my drives really saved me,” she said. “I had good drives today, which is probably the best thing and chipping, I did pretty well in chipping today actually.”

Ontonagon’s Madyson Pantti shot a 102 and Camryn Pederson of Big Bay de Noc a 105.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Cedarville/DeTour’s Lily Plowman hits out of the sand during Thursday’s UPD3 Final. (Middle) Ontonagon’s Emmy Bobula tees off during her championship round. (Below) Mackinac Island’s Isabella Nitzschke hits out of a tough spot beside a tree. (Photos by Jason Juno.)