Shannon Finds Home on Golf Course

October 16, 2020

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half 

JACKSON – As a freshman at Michigan Center High School near Jackson, Kamryn Shannon was a volleyball player who decided to try golf for the first time. 

“My grandpa (Bob Shannon) was the golf coach for a long time at Michigan Center,” Shannon explained. “He wanted someone in the family to pick up the game. I decided I’d give it a try.” 

Her Cardinals teammates are happy she did. Now a junior and in her third season golfing, Shannon will lead the Cardinals into the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Final on Saturday at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers West. This will be the second consecutive season the Cardinals have qualified. Last year, Michigan Center finished 15th as Shannon shot a two-day total of 197. 

“Our team has come a long way,” she said. “If we were to finish in the top five, I would be so happy for us. I’d like to see all of our hard work pay off.” 

Shannon, 17, took to golf quickly.  

“It kind of came easy, but I was putting in tons of work,” she said.  

Shannon lives in Vandercook Lake but started attending Michigan Center in the sixth grade. She has two older sisters, one who played basketball for the Cardinals. Besides golf, Shannon plays basketball and softball for Michigan Center.  

Last basketball season, the Cardinals reached the Regional Final before the season ended due to Covid-19. She scored four points, including a 3-pointer, in Michigan Center’s 42-41 upset of Grass Lake. The Cardinals won their final 16 games of the season. 

“We had a pretty good team,” she said. “We had four seniors who were really good and being recruited to play college basketball.” 

Shannon said there was some concern this school year about the golf team being allowed to compete in the conference and Regional tournaments after students were sent home due to the coronavirus.

“The golf season almost ended,” she said. “Luckily, the school pulled through.” 

Shannon finished first at the Cascades Conference Tournament, helping Michigan Center to its first conference golf championship at Ella Sharpe course in Jackson. The team won each of the conference events by an average of 37 strokes, and all five Cardinals golfers – including also Baylee Carlisle, Elly Trefry, Sydney Cramer, and Savana Stewart – made first team all-conference. The team set several records during the outstanding season, and they were ranked throughout. 

At the Regional, Shannon was medalist after shooting an 87 at the Cascades Golf Course in downtown Jackson. 

She now attends school virtually every day. After school she works at The Grande Golf Club in Jackson, on the range picking up balls and cleaning carts. Working there has its advantages. 

“Because I work there, I can use the range and golf for free,” she said. “I was going there a couple of times a week because we live near there and my mom said, ‘Maybe you ought to get a job there.’” 

It was a good idea. Shannon said it’s helped her game. 

“I’m super happy with how I’ve been doing this year,” she said. “Last year I got a lot of double bogeys and triple bogeys. This year I try to hit pars on every hole, but even if I don’t get one, I’m not mad. 

“Golf can be super tough. You have to be able to think about the shot and stay calm, go up to the ball, focus on just that and swing. I’m down about 10 strokes from last year.” 

She credits Steven Saari, the head golf professional at The Grande, with helping her game. 

“I started taking lessons from him, and he’s helped me so much,” she said. “When Steve tells me something, I go and hit one or two buckets of balls every day until I get it down. I knew when he started teaching me that I really had to listen. There are so many little things in golf that make a big difference.” 

Shannon is long off the tee – hitting drives consistently in the 240-yard range. She said she works about three days a week at the course but is there pretty much every day.  

The daughter of Craig and Stephanie hopes to study golf course or sports management and play golf in college. She’s made some unofficial visits already to in-state schools. 

For this weekend, she has a goal. She wants to break 80.  

“I know that I am capable of it,” she said. “I did it this summer in tournament play. That’s what I want to do.” 

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Michigan Center’s Kamryn Shannon watches a drive. (Middle) Shannon was the medalist at last week’s Regional at Cascades. (Photos courtesy of the Michigan Center girls golf program.)

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.)