2017-04-27 / Sports

Leland golfers go low at Manitou Passage

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff

In 2016, Nate Ball often made the mistake of competing against other golfers.

On Monday, Ball opted to compete against the course—and he won.

The Leland sophomore, who spent much of his summer on the links at Sugar Loaf The Old Course, captured medalist honors with an even 36 in the Glen Lake Jamboree at Manitou Passage, leading the Comets to their second first-place finish in as many Northwest Conference events this spring.

“We need Nate to be a leader on and off the golf course,” coach Nate Sneed said of Ball, one of the most proficient putters in the conference. “I really challenged him and told him he needed to play well, come out swinging and firing away. I was so proud of the way he answered and responded to that. Last year, he was kind of playing against other players as opposed to just playing against the course. This round, he took that to heart and he rolled with it.”

Ball had much to do with Leland’s win, but he had plenty of help.

The Comets, who cruised to a nine-stroke victory in the season-opening Kingsley Jamboree last week, came away with four top-seven finishes in the seven-team, 40-player field. Justin Bardenhagen fired a 5-over 41 to finish fifth, Quinn Maleski penciled a 43 to place sixth and Luke Kleinschmit carded a 44 to finish seventh.

Not bad for four underclassmen.

“It’s a testament to these guys,” Sneed said of his team, which also had a 13th-place finish from junior Hank Guest. “They work on their game in the summer and on weekends. It’s just been a real coach’s treat. I’m not going to take any of the credit for that. That’s all on them. That’s them taking the advice I have given them—that if they want to do something special, they need to go out and play.”

The Comet quartet contributed to a team score of 164, which was good enough to top runner-up Suttons Bay by 10 strokes. Frankfort, Glen Lake and Kingsley rounded out the top five with scores of 186, 196 and 197, respectively.

The second-place finish was the second straight for Suttons Bay.

“Some guys are a little disappointed in their start, but it’s early,” said fourtime state champion coach Todd Hursey. “Right now, Leland is better than us. They’re a deeper team. Our job is to keep working and see what we can do. Worst case, we continue to hold that second spot, put some heat on them and try to catch them at the end.”

Thomas Hursey missed out on medalist honors by one stroke with a 1-over 37—but holds a one-stroke lead over Ball in the overall conference ranks with 116 strokes through 27 holes.

Three other Suttons Bay golfers cracked the top 10 on Monday. Eli Lewis landed in eighth place with a 45 while two golfers, Justin McSawby and Jack Pasche, were part of a three-way tie for 10th place with matching 46s.

Glen Lake golfers, meanwhile, moved up one spot from their fifth-place showing at Kingsley last week.

The Lakers notched a 196 on their home course, sneaking past fifth-place Kingsley by one stroke.

“Getting to fourth doesn’t seem very significant, but it’s a nice improvement for us,” said Glen Lake coach Lee Houtteman, the golf pro at Manitou Passage. “We still have a lot of room to grow and a lot of kids who still haven’t reached their potential.”

Brandon Cox paced Glen Lake with a career-best 46, joining McSawby and Pasche in 10th. Peyton McDonough fired a 49 to finish 16th, Caleb Gleason notched a 50 to finish 19th and Ethan Gleason recorded a 51 to finish 21st.

County golfers, who were slated to compete in the Onekama Jamboree after press time last night, will hit the links at Bahle Farms in the Suttons Bay Jamboree on Wednesday.

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