Catholic League set to host 59th annual golf tournament
Published May 15, 2013
When it comes to the Catholic High School League golf tournament, one swing can be the difference.
The season-ending tournament is split between Division 1 and Division 2 teams, with each squad sending out six golfers and counting the top four scores.
This year’s tilt is set for 9 a.m. May 21 at the University of Michigan Golf Course, with both divisions teeing off.
In the last eight tournaments, the champion has won by one stroke or tiebreaker five times.
“It’s extremely competitive,” Birmingham Brother Rice coach Dan Bumpus said. His team won last year’s tournament by tiebreaker (which is the team total including the fifth golfer’s score) against Novi Catholic Central.
“You look at the teams we play week in and week out — any of the teams we play against can win,” he said. “It’s always one that is nice to win. Going against the best teams in the state, and ones you’re going to see again in the state finals, it makes it nice to get some confidence by playing well in this one.”
Rice is the two-time defending champion, edging U of D Jesuit by a stroke in 2011.
This season, the D-1 tournament consists of Rice, Jesuit, Catholic Central, Dearborn Divine Child, Warren De La Salle, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.
Teams that participate in the CHSL that are not actually Catholic schools are not eligible to compete in the tournament.
“I’m coming to the realization that if you look at the recent years, there are at least three or four teams from (our league) in the state finals every year,” De La Salle coach Doug McKay said. “So playing in the Catholic League is highly competitive, and I think it makes everyone better. You can come out of the league with a 4-4 record, which we have done a lot of years, and still make it to the state finals.”
At press time, the D-1 tournament features three teams ranked in the state, according the May 2 Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association poll.
At the state level, Catholic Central is No. 1 in D-1; Rice comes in at No. 6; and Jesuit is No. 7. Divine Child is No. 8 in D-2.
McKay said the course they will be navigating this time around is plenty tough.
“It’s a college golf course. The greens are undulated and fast. The scores will be dictated by weather,” he said. “I think the team with the best putters and ball-strikers are going to jump to the top. That’s what we’re concentrating on now.”
McKay added that his lineup is still in flux and that he’s continuing the process of finding out who will make the starting lineup to give the Pilots their best chance to win. The Pilots last took the title in 2001.
“Right now, we’re just climbing that ladder, trying to take every rung we can, and hopefully by May 21, we’ll have six guys that we can take,” he said. “We don’t have a No. 1 player; we have four or six No. 1 players. There isn’t a standout like we’ve had in the past, but we’ll get there.”
Bumpus feels that Catholic Central and U of D are the two favorites and that it’ll take a complete team effort for his squad to make it three straight, which has been done only once in D-1 since the tournament split in 1992.
A team winning three or more straight has only happened on six occasions total in any division in the tournament’s 58-year history.
“We’ve had a number of spoiled rounds because of one or two holes,” Bumpus said. “You have to make sure to avoid those and have everyone play well. We have to get five or six good scores and have everyone on their game because the other teams we play against are just too good.”
Schools scheduled to participate in D-2 are Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, Royal Oak Shrine, Allen Park Cabrini, Riverview Gabriel Richard and Marine City Cardinal Mooney.
Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard has won 10 championships since 2000.
Shrine coach A.J. Plaskey sees (Richard) as the favorite again. Shrine won the first two CHSL tournaments in 1954 and 1955. Since then, the Knights have been held without a title but have come close, losing in a tiebreaker in 2009.
“We’ll probably be in the middle of the pack,” Plaskey said. “We have some kids that can play, but consistency is the biggest thing on a weekly basis for us.”
Plaskey added that a key to playing well in this tournament is course management.
“I think the biggest thing for our boys is keeping it in play,” he said. “It’s not terribly tight, but you can get yourself into trouble if you’re not paying attention to where you are.”
Plaskey said he believes the event will help prepare them for the postseason, which rolls around May 29.
“Especially getting into that 18-hole-tournament mode, because we play a lot of nine-hole matches,” he said. “We kind of use it as a steppingstone for districts.”