Senior Season Setting Up as Brody's Best of Storied Grand Blanc Career

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

August 31, 2022

Grand Blanc’s Kate Brody entered her senior golf season a bit conflicted.

Bay & ThumbThe 2020 Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final champion knew her game was as good or better than it’s ever been, but she wasn’t happy with some recent results.

Then she shot a 62.

“I just was hitting every shot kind of right where I wanted to,” said Brody, who shot 10-under par at The Fortress in Frankenmuth on Aug. 25 during the Saginaw Valley League Preseason Tournament. “I wasn’t really thinking about much while I was playing. I’ve never played that well before. There was probably only one shot that I wasn’t happy with.”

The 62 was a personal best in tournament play for Brody, and could be the spark for the final year of an already illustrious high school career.

Brody has never finished outside the top four at an MHSAA Finals event, taking third as a freshman and fourth as a junior. She was named first-team all-state by the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association after all of her first three high school seasons, and has committed to play golf at the University of Wisconsin when this school year is done.

But Brody wasn’t happy with how her summer season had panned out, and even on the day she shot 62, said she didn’t feel all that confident until she got to the first tee box.

Brody, here as a toddler, took to the game at a young age.“I didn’t have as good of a summer as I wanted to playing in tournaments around the state,” Brody said. “I wasn’t nervous going into my senior season, but I knew I was going to have to keep working hard to shoot the scores I wanted to. I feel like my game is definitely better than the last couple summers. I think I’ve gotten smarter on the golf course. I’ve definitely gotten better near the green with my chipping and putting, and I’m hitting it a lot farther, too.”

That leaves the main ingredient for Brody’s success in her own head – and she’s mastering that approach as well.

“My mental game has gotten a lot stronger,” she said. “I know that I’m going to have bad shots and a couple bad holes. I’ve tried really hard to keep it together and honestly forget about it and move on.”

All of that work has made this level of success possible for Brody, but she started with quite a foundation.

Brody’s parents, Jenn and Doug Brody, are the LPGA professional and head professional, respectively, at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. Jenn played at Michigan State and on the LPGA Tour, and was inducted this past summer into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

Kate started playing at 4 years old, although she said there are pictures of her holding a club earlier than that. She didn’t start playing competitively, however, until she was 11.

“I don’t think my parents really wanted to push me into it,” she said. “I just really liked coming out to the golf course in the summer. It was just fun for me. I didn’t really take it super seriously until middle school. I also played travel soccer and basketball when I was little. Those were my main sports over golf until like seventh grade.”

Brody made golf her main game during junior high. Golf became Brody’s main focus right around the time Glen Bauer took over as coach of the Grand Blanc girls program. And he knew before she took a class at the high school that he had something special.

“I started coaching when Kate was in eighth grade, and I tried to get her on the varsity team when she was in eighth grade,” Bauer joked. “Some young players, you know right away if they have what it takes to be a great golfer and a great person. She just was so far advanced from pretty much everybody that’s been here as a freshman. A lot of that is DNA, but it’s also what she had worked on since she was 4½.”

While Brody grew up rooting for the Spartans, and had a coach who was pulling for her to wind up at Michigan, it was Wisconsin that got the jump on recruiting her and never fell back to the rest of the pack.

Badgers coach Todd Oehrlein was in contact with Brody the first day he was allowed by rule, and a visit to Madison in October of 2021 sealed the deal.

“I could tell that he and (assistant coach Kristen Simpson) really wanted me,” Brody said. “I wanted to go somewhere I felt wanted and felt like I would be valuable to the team. I really felt a good connection with my coaches at the start, and that was a big part in the decision. As soon as I stepped on campus, I really fell in love with it. It blew me away, everything about it. I didn’t have a lot of interest in visiting other places.”

Brody’s commitment came shortly after her junior season wrapped up, and she admitted the recruiting process had created excess pressure in the past.

Now, it’s one less thing to worry about as she tries to focus on the matches and tournaments immediately ahead while working toward the bigger goal of another Finals title.

“Those big goals are always in the back of my head,” she said. “I think it’s really necessary to have them to achieve what you want. But when I’m going to the next tournament, it’s not like I’m thinking about the state championship. I’m thinking about that round. When I’m off the course, I’m thinking of that bigger goal.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Grand Blanc’s Kate Brody, here following through on a putt, has posted a tournament personal best 62 this season. (Middle and below) Brody, as a toddler and a few years older, took to the game at a young age and made it her main game during junior high. (Photos courtesy of the Brody family.)

Pederson Wins Memorably, Ontonagon Ascends Again in 'Phenomenal' Fashion

By Jason Juno
Special for

May 30, 2024

ESCANABA – Big Bay de Noc’s Camryn Pederson carded an 89 on Thursday to win the Upper Peninsula Division 3 Final individual champion and become the first U.P. champion to clear 90 since 2019.

“It feels really good,” she said. “I tried my best to golf as good as I could today, and I’m really glad that it came out the way it was. It’s a good way to end my senior year.”

She said she liked the open course that was low on hazards at the Escanaba Country Club. And she did most things well during her round Thursday.

“I think I minimized my putts. I only one or two-putt most of the holes,” Pederson said. “And my drives were really good.”

She became the second golfer from Big Bay de Noc to win a U.P. Finals individual golf title. Samantha Guertin won Division 3 in 2006 with a 90.

Pederson’s team was seeking its first title since 2005 after finishing runner-up last year, but finished second to a school where girls golf has pretty much always been strong – Ontonagon.

Ontonagon celebrates its latest girls golf Finals championship.When the MHSAA first separated the U.P. Finals into separate classes, Ontonagon won the first 10 Class C-D championships, from 1978 to 1987. When Class D got its own U.P. championship tournament, the Gladiators girls won the first four, part of a five-year run of titles from 1994 to 1998. When classifications changed again in 2001, and the name of the smallest group of schools changed from Class D to Division 3, Ontonagon didn’t stop winning, racking up seven more Finals championships.

On Thursday, the Gladiators made it eight wins in Division 3 and 23 overall.

Two of their golfers finished under 100 – runner-up Madyson Pantti carded a 94, and Sam Bailey had a 98. All five finished among the top 10 individuals. Summer Stites’ 100 was good for a fourth-place tie, and Olivia Lockhart and Shayna Stites tied for 10th with 108s.

It was the first U.P. Finals golf championship for all of them, including coach Jim Jessup. The Gladiators’ last team wins came with back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019.

Ontonagon repeated as Copper Mountain Conference champion this year. The Gladiators had finished third last season at the U.P. Division 3 Final and outshot Big Bay de Noc on Thursday by eight strokes, 400-408. Ontonagon shot 36 strokes better than at last season’s Final, and every golfer shot under 110, which Jessup called “phenomenal.”

“I think the girls just worked really hard to better themselves,” he said. “Their stroke play was better, their consistency was better.”

Pantti improved her score by eight strokes from last year’s Final. The junior will have another shot at an individual championships in 2025, but she had a lot to be proud of this time with her runner-up finish that led the Gladiators to a team title.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “It was something that we’d been looking forward to all season. We’ve done good in a lot of our meets, and I thought this was a really good year for us.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Big Bay de Noc's Camryn Pederson follows her drive on No. 4 on Thursday at Escanaba Country Club. (Middle) Ontonagon celebrates its latest girls golf Finals championship. (Photos by Jason Juno.)