Montague girls golf #1 in Muskegon County, #2 in the state and still striving


TWIN LAKE — Megan Brown seemed a little apprehensive about doing an interview after helping lead Montague’s women’s golf team to the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament title on Wednesday.

All the Wildcats senior needed was a nudge from her coach and teammates. Very appropriate for the Montague girls’ golf program.

Five years ago, the program did not exist. Now, Montague is the first-time GMAA champion and the second-ranked Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association Division 4 team is looking for more with regionals around the corner. The Wildcats broke the Mona Shores and Reeths-Puffer hold the big schools had on the county title for the past 13 years.

“It’s a great achievement,” Brown said. “It’s something we wanted to do and it’s my last year. My first year, we probably came close to lasting in this area, so just to see the growth from now, we’re gaining this last year, that’s a huge leap and I think it just gives us the potential to, like, we have earned that so going into regions and state we have more confidence to maybe take some of the top spots there too.

Wednesday’s tournament has become a two-team race between Montague and neighboring rival Whitehall. The Wildcats shot 361 as a team, led by Brown’s 84. The Vikings finished at 371, paced by tournament medalist Kari Van Duinen, a junior who shot 6 of 78 to earn medalist honors for the second time in three years.

Van Duinen led Reeths-Puffer to the GMAA title as a rookie in 2018, but she was transferred to Whitehall last year. She had to take time off last golf season due to Michigan High School Athletic Association transfer rules.

“I want to get to the state obviously, try to finish first at regionals. I just want to hit the ball better. I care about the score, but I just want to (make) good contact and stop making stupid shots, I guess,” Van Duinen said with a laugh. “But I feel like I’m starting to get back to normal. I’m not training as much as usual, but it’s making progress.”

Whitehall junior Karli VanDuinen earned medal honors at the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at Stonegate Golf Club in Twin Lake, Mich. (Scott DeCamp |

Montague has come a long way in a short time. Wildcats coach Phil Kerr, a transplant from New York, arrived at Montague in 2013. He began coaching the boys’ program in 2014, and two years later introduced the girls’ program.

Montague’s women’s program struggled early, as you’d expect, but last season the Wildcats advanced to the state finals for the first time and exceeded expectations by placing fourth. This only fueled their thirst to keep improving.

While last year’s roster is back virtually intact, the Wildcats had big goals for this season and they’ve worked hard this summer to achieve them.

“I never thought it was going to do this, to be honest. Never,” Kerr said, alluding to how far the Wildcats girls’ program has come in five years. “I just wanted to give them the opportunity to playing golf and it just took off. It’s good.”

Montague Wins First Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Women's Golf Tournament Title

Whitehall co-coach Bill Borgman, left, and Montague coach Phil Kerr watch their players near the No. 17 tee box during the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament on Wednesday September 23, 2020, at Stonegate Golf Club in Twin Lake, Michigan (Scott DeCamp |

Depth has been Montague’s identity this season and that trait showed up again on Wednesday. All five scorers finished in the GMAA’s top 10 individuals: Brown placed third, juniors Orianna Bylsma and Gabby Moreau sixth (89) and seventh (94), respectively, rookie Mackenzie Goudreau eighth (94) and senior Katie Unger 10th (96) .

Kerr was pleased with the team’s scoreline and he gave Whitehall props right on Montague’s heels. Collectively, the Wildcats’ best 18-hole score so far this season is 353, which was hit twice, including Monday at a tough Tullymore course.

“Our depth paid off again today. Even our (Nos.) 5s and 6s were there with our top scorers – that’s kind of the story of our year,” Kerr said. “To be honest, I’m really happy with the score we shot. …

“It’s a credit to the girls. You know, it’s practically a year-round program for them. They worked hard, they all played in summer tournaments this year to prepare for this. We started watching this day in June – it was one of our big goals was to come out and win today. It’s like a relief right now, but we’re really excited.

Montague Wins First Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Women's Golf Tournament Title

Montague junior Orianna Bylsma putts on the 12th green during the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, at Stonegate Golf Club in Twin Lake, Mich. (Scott DeCamp |

Montague’s next mission is a regional title. The Wildcats will compete in the Division 4 competition on October 5 at the Wolverine course at the Grand Traverse Resort.

To minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19, the MHSAA has changed its post-season format. Only the top two teams and the top two individuals not part of a qualifying team qualify for the national final. This is one fewer team qualifier and one fewer individual qualifier than in previous seasons.

The four divisions of the Lower Peninsula State Finals will be played on Michigan State University’s home courses. Each division will play a one-day, 18-hole round versus the previous two-day, 36-hole format.

Last year, Montague survived a tough region including powerhouses such as Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian and Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep to advance to the state finals.

Montague Wins First Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Women's Golf Tournament Title

Montague senior Megan Brown watches her tee shot on the No. 18 during the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, at Stonegate Golf Club in Twin Lake, Mich. (Scott DeCamp |

“The ultimate (this season) would probably be to win our region first and then get into the state, just to rank well there and do better than we did last year” , Brown said.

2020 has been a different year amid the pandemic. High school sports, even ones like golf that are largely socially distant, have been a bit out of the ordinary.

In addition to the development Montague’s program has shown over the past five years, Kerr is proud of how his golfers have responded to adversity over the past several months.

“You know it’s been different, but I always say to the girls, we’re going to remember this season for all the challenges that have been presented but we’re also going to remember the season because we’ve overcome all of that,” he said. he declared. . “To be honest, we’re just happy to be able to play. We knew this could be a special season for us, so just to have the opportunity for these girls to experience it, especially our seniors, is a blessing.


Team results
  • 1.Montague 361
  • 2.Whitehall 371
  • 3. Reeths-Puffer 395
  • 4. Mona Shores 397
  • 5. North Muskegon 408
  • 6. West Michigan Christian 448
  • 7.Holton 453
Top 10 individuals
  • 1. Karli Van Duinen (Whitehall), 78
  • 2. Georgie Kersman (North Muskegon), 80
  • 3. Megan Brown (Montague), 84
  • 4. Kennedy Woodring (Whitehall), 86
  • 5. Paige Anderson (Reeths-Puffer), 87
  • 6. Orianna Bylsma (Montaigu), 89
  • 7. Gabby Moreau (Montaigu), 94 years old
  • 8. Mackenzie Goudreau (Montaigu), 94 years old
  • 9. Ava Garcia (Whitehall), 95
  • 10. Katie Unger (Montaigu), 96 years old

More high school golf coverage:

West Michigan golfer shoots breathtaking 60 as high school sports finally return amid pandemic

Freshman golfer gets a hole-in-one on the first shot of his high school career


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