The White Pigeon boys varsity golf team is set to compete at the Michigan High School Athletic Assocation Division 4 finals Friday-Saturday at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers East Golf Course.
The Chiefs are just one of six public schools in the 18-team field.
Even though White Pigeon coach Mark Olsen feels Forest Akers East is the easiest of the four state championship venues, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee low scores.
“It can lead to bad decision making and higher scores than expected,” he said. “We need to play within ourselves and not try to do too much and hit difficult shots, which will allow us to stay out of trouble.”
The BCS Central Division and St. Joseph County champion Chiefs are led by senior Jordan Olsen, who boasts seven victories this year and has averaged 40 strokes per nine-hole tournament and a score of 79 in 18-hole matches. He’s the only player on the team to have competed in a state championship. He was a key part of the Chiefs’ team state title in 2014 and this marks his fourth trip to the finals.
Junior Cole Shafer has averaged 44.4 in nine-hole rounds and 91 in 18-hole rounds. His brother, freshman Blaine Shafer, posted 48.2 and 91 averages. Junior Donovan Snook hovered around 50 strokes and 103.8 shots for nine- and 18-hole events, respectively.
For juniors Dakota Ryall and Hayden Krogh, both were a hair of 52 for nine-hole tournaments and just shy of a 96 average in 18-hole tourneys.
Mark Olsen gave us his thoughts on each player:
“Jordan Olsen will be making his 4th trip to the State Finals finishing 3rd place last season. Jordan is a very intelligent golfer with exceptional skills that should work to his advantage at Forest Akers East where both are required to score well.
He has played very well and improved each event as the season progressed. He hopes to do well this weekend in his last High School event before continuing his career at Northwood University.
“Cole Shafer will be making his 1st trip to the State Finals and has had a very good season to this point and hopes to continue this at the Finals. He has the second lowest 9-hole and 18-hole average on the team and has finished very well in the biggest events of the season so far. His preparation for the Finals should lead to a good outcome.
“Blaine Shafer is making his 1sttrip to the Finals and also has all of the tools to play Forest Akers East very well. This is a course that Blaine should do well on because of the type of course it is and the type of golf he plays. Blaine is normally a very consistent player who keeps the ball in the fairway and has good misses.
“Hayden Krogh is making his 1st trip to the Finals and has the potential to do well there if he plays his game. He is a very steady player and doesn’t get too excited which leads to hitting good consistent shots.
“Dakota Ryall will be making his 1st trip to the Finals and needs to stick with the game plan to be successful at Forest Akers East. The premium is on accuracy and not distance and Dakota needs to focus on that and nothing else. Dakota has the ability to play well on any course provided he maintains that focus. An ankle injury sidelined Dakota midway in the year that limited his playing and practice time. Dakota will be playing on Friday.
“Donovan Snook will be making his 1st trip to the Finals and like the others, needs to follow the game plan. Donovan has the type of game to play Forest Akers East well if he can maintain his focus on the plan.”