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April 23, 2014

Boys golf teams ready to hit the links

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Chippewa Valley senior Clifton Manus putts during a Chippewa practice at Oak Ridge Golf Course on April 16.

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — With a lineup featuring all seniors, Chippewa Valley golf coach Brandon Pitcher has high expectations for his team this spring.

Chippewa finished last year with a 5-3 record in MAC White play, but Pitcher hopes that his team can finish stronger this spring to claim a league title.

“I have high expectations for this group because we have all seniors. With this being their last year, I would expect them to have a good season,” Pitcher said. “It’s going to be competitive, that’s for sure, but it should be fun. I just hope that these guys can finish strong if we get off to a strong start like we did last year.”

Pitcher said that from top to bottom, his roster is very close in terms of scoring, but he pointed to Jeff Fifer as the team’s leading scorer.

“(Fifer has) gotten better in his tournaments, but he’s definitely consistent in both formats. He was in a playoff at the county championship last year. He’s better at the 18-hole tournaments than 9-holes. He shoots in the 70s quite a bit,” Pitcher said.

Fifer brings a 41 average into this season, and teammate Kevin Johnson trails just behind him, in terms of scoring.

Adrian Daniel, Noah Lemmon, Clifton Manus and Grant Owen round out the rest of the lineup.

“Every year, they seem to get a little bit better, scorewise, and they’re gaining on the distance because they’re getting bigger and stronger. I’d like to think that they’re getting smarter on the course because they have a lot of experience,” Pitcher said.

“They know how to handle adverse situations on the golf course when they have a bad hole, or when they have a great hole, they don’t get too high or too low and try to keep a level head while they’re out there because it’s a tough game and mentally challenging.”

The Big Reds will be playing at Port Huron Northern on April 24 at Port Huron Golf Club. Chippewa will be playing in the Utica Eisenhower district tournament on May 22 at Cherry Creek.

New leadership for Fraser

Chad Byron has taken over the head coaching duties for the Fraser golf program this spring.

Byron brings with him 20 years of experience as a PGA professional and he remains the Director of Golf at Maple Lane Golf Club in Sterling Heights. Dylan Thrift, a 2012 graduate of the Fraser golf program, will be in his second year as assistant coach of the Ramblers.

“I’ve really liked just being around the kids, and watching them improve just gives you satisfaction. Whether they play good or bad, just seeing them get better is the most important part to me,” Byron said of his coaching experience so far this spring.

Seniors Bailey Toma and Trevor Justin, along with junior Andrew Jagot, will lead Fraser.

“One thing they’ve shown is some good leadership while knowing a new coach was coming in,” Byron said. “That’s where I think they kind of want to leave their mark, just showing that they were there when the transition happened, and I think that’s part of their legacy that will carry on for the future.”

Junior Warren Goemaere, who has shot a 38 in a practice round, will contribute along with sophomore Evan Lesher and freshman Adam Culver.

“I’ve seen nothing but improvement. We’re kind of starting fresh, and so far, we’re just getting games in shape,” Byron said. “We’re not so much worried about scores yet; I’m worried about getting games in shape, not just for now, but for their whole life.”

Fraser will be playing in the MAC Gold this season; South Lake and Warren Cousino will attempt to defend their co-league titles. The Ramblers will host Marysville on April 24 at Maple Lane, and they will play in their district tournament on May 21 at St. Clair Shores Golf Course.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.