Coach Ryan Grabetz said Jordan Hunt was typical of the girls on the 2020 varsity golf team at Southgate Anderson High School. They love to play golf.
During the Downriver League tournament on Sept. 17 at Westburn Country Club, Hunt’s face began to get red and puffy and a bit itchy, but she shrugged it off, preferring to finish her round of golf.
“That morning, it wasn’t super bad,” she said, “but during the 18 holes, it got worse. I figured it wasn’t going to be so bad, so I was just having fun golfing.
“That night, it got way worse and my dad took me to the ER. The next day, we went to a dermatologist and they both said it was airborne poison ivy.”
Hunt made a lasting impression on her coach, who has guided the Titans since 1999.
“When Jordan picked up her ball on the last hole, I saw her face was puffy and red. I asked, ‘Are you OK?’” Grabetz said. “It had been bothering her the whole time, but she did not quit. She had to finish.”
Anderson finished fourth in the seven-team league behind Gibraltar Carlson, Allen Park and Trenton and ahead of Woodhaven, Dearborn Edsel Ford and Wyandotte Roosevelt.
The Titans were usually led by sophomore Elyana Cecil and Hunt, who was the only senior on the team. The two teammates capped off the season by playing in the state Division 2 regional tournament at the historic Rackham Golf Course in Huntington Woods. Cecil, whose main sport is golf, earned All-League honors.
Anderson’s home course is South Winds, Southgate’s municipal course. The Titans practiced three days a week at the Riverview Highlands practice facility.
“Both courses are outstanding,” Grabetz said, praising the efforts of South Winds’ Chris Grandy and the Highlands’ Mike Kettler.
Grabetz said they weren’t even sure there would be girls golf in the fall due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. He said the preseason and some invitationals were cancelled.
When they got the go-ahead to have a season, the schedule was shortened and compressed. Instead of playing one-on-one dual matches, teams combined to play four “jamborees” with four teams at the same location.
Girls didn’t have to wear masks on the course, except for putting, but had to wear them in the clubhouse. Players weren’t allowed to touch the flag sticks on the green. And an app allowed the girls to keep their own score using their cell phone.
Six girls are selected to play in a typical match and the best four scores count for the team’s total. Typically joining Cecil and Hunt in the starting six were juniors Lily Lawson and Paris Meller and sophomore Paige Pascarella.
The sixth golfer in the lineup usually rotated between junior Paytin Crysler and sophomores Hailey Dupuis, Abigail Doddie, Evangelia Cunningham and Shelby Plummer.
When girls golf was approved by the Michigan High School Athletic Association, the Southgate Anderson girls were eager to get started.
“I was really excited for the kids and the kids were excited,” Grabetz said. “The kids want to get back to normalcy. Some thought masks would be the most bothersome, but they didn’t bother the kids at all. They were happy to get back to playing.”
Grabetz, a middle school teacher, said he has known most of the girls since they were sixth-graders. The coach said a number of the girls play other sports or take part in other activities, so he is able to be flexible with his lineup in case of conflict.
Will most of the players return for 2021?
“I hope so,” Grabetz said. “I really like to think the girls enjoy golf. The girls practice and have camaraderie with each other. They seem to like it. Most play all four years.
“It’s weird. When we get them, most can’t swing a club. By the time they leave, they shoot in the 50s (for nine holes) and can play golf. I tell them that golf is a lifelong sport. It’s something that one day when your boss tells you you’ve got to play golf, you can say ‘I play golf,’ and you can go out and play.”
Hunt’s main sport is ice hockey and she plans to keep playing on skates after high school. But she said she has nothing but fond memories from her four years of playing golf at Anderson. She improved every year and became a team captain in her senior season.
“It’s real fun and all the girls are great,” said Hunt, who is 17. “Coach Grabetz is awesome. This year was really fun. You show up at the range and putt and talk about golf during practice. Then you have the matches.
“I’m very glad I got to play all four years. It’s been really fun. It’ll be one of my fondest memories of high school. I made friends through this. I have no classes with anyone from golf. I wouldn’t have really met them if not for golf. So it’s really been great.”