Grand Blanc’s Kate Brody entered her senior golf season a bit conflicted.
The 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.
“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.”
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)
ROCKFORD – The Rockford girls golf team witnessed first-hand at last year’s MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final the type of scores it would take to compete for top honors in the state.
The Rams finished a laudable eighth at last year’s championship tournament, but their two-day total of 697 (338-359) put them well behind champion Northville, which posted team scores of 307 and 308 to claim a fourth-straight Finals title by 12 strokes.
Rockford entered this season with aspirations to close the gap, and it has done just that with a talented quartet of experienced golfers.
“Our top four are better than we've had in the past,” Rams girls golf coach Scott Kruisenga said. “Maybe we’re not quite as deep, but the potential for all four of these girls to be in the 70s is pretty exciting.
“We’ve been seeing those scores by Northville, and Rochester Adams and Saline, and that's some darn good golf.
“The girls last year saw some of the scores that needed to take place in order to have a shot at a state championship, and they really took it serious over the summer. They played a lot of tournament golf, and they want it and they believe they can do it.”
The extra preparation and enhanced desire has been evident with low scores and first-place finishes.
The Rams have rolled through the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red thus far with the league tournament looming next week.
A new school record was established as well when Rockford won the Kent County Classic with an impressive 306.
“We’ve played well, and it’s been fun getting to know everyone the last three years,” said junior Jessica Jolly, the team’s No. 1 golfer.
“Everyone is capable of shooting low, so when we can do our best on the same day it’s fun, and we’ve broken the school record multiple times in the past few years.”
Jolly is joined in the top four by seniors Mackenzie Davidson and Bridget Parlmer and junior Aubrey Wilson.
In addition to the Kent Country Classic, Rockford also won the O-K Red Midseason Tournament, the Sydney Carfine Memorial Tournament and the Greenville Invitational.
The Rams took second behind state powerhouse Brighton at the 36-hole Lober Classic at Crystal Mountain to open the season.
“They have really been playing up to their ability and been playing lights out,” Kruisenga said. “They’ve put a lot of hard work in, and I’ve had all four since they were freshmen so it’s been fun to see how they’ve been improving year by year.
“That has been the most exciting thing, seeing the improvement and dedication they are putting into get better.”
While the team had high expectations entering the season, Kruisenga said they have already exceeded his.
“I was thinking even if we stay the same as last year we would be a good team,” he said, “but everyone is playing better.”
Jolly has been the catalyst and broke her own school record earlier this season with a superb 67 at Quail Ridge Golf Course.
She tied for ninth at the LPD1 Final as a freshman, when Rockford finished fifth as a team, and just missed the individual top 10 last season.
“I’m pretty happy with how I’ve played, and I’ve definitely seen my average drop to the lowest it’s been since I’ve been in high school.” Jolly said. “Most of my rounds have been under par, and it’s been fun to make some birdies and get a chance at shooting pretty low.”
After struggling on the second day of last year’s Final, Kruisenga said the success his team had at the 36-hole event earlier this season should bode well for the future.
“We did that intentionally to try and get used to that back-to-back,” he said. “The girls fared really well. We lost by three or four strokes to Brighton, and we were tied going into the second day. They kept a good mental game and limited their mistakes.”
The Rams are anxious for the postseason, but refuse to take anything for granted. They want to finish the conference season strong before setting their sights on a Finals berth.
“Our first goal would be to win the postseason tournament, and then we hope to do well at Regionals and qualify for state,” Jolly said. “If we do, then we’re looking to perform well there and give ourselves a chance.”
Dean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at email@example.com with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Rockford’s Jessica Jolly powers through a drive during last season’s LPD1 Final. (Middle) Aubrey Wilson putts off the rough during the Final at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)