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Get To Know EVCC’s High School Female Golfers

Included among the many passionate golfers at Egypt Valley are a variety of talented young women golfers who are excelling in the sport both inside and outside of the Club. Take a moment to get to know a bit more about some of them and their accomplishments at their various high schools and tournaments!

For Natalie Kent, golf was something she became interested in thanks to her father, friends and family connections. Kent explains her greatest accomplishment this season was “making my Varsity golf team as the only freshmen and having an opportunity to go to states as an individual.”

Kent, who tied for eighth place at Regionals, says she looks forward to continuing to conquer the mental challenges golf brings while also continuing to learn how to handle stressful situations in a way that produces a positive outcome.

Ava Wisinski comes from a family of golf professionals, including her great grandpa, grandpa and uncle. Ava’s many accomplishments include placing at the GAM Junior State Amateur - 15 & Under Division (Stroke Play – fourth place out of 31; shot 74-76, Matchplay - state runner up); the Meijer Callaway Tour Player of the Year Race - 16-18 Division (seventh place out of 108); and the State Ranking for Division 3 - 18 holes (fourth out of 531 - 73.7 average).

Beyond high school play, Ava hopes to continue her golf journey well into the future.

“I aspire to play college golf and then hopefully stay in the golf industry after college,” Ava said.

Senior Mackenzie Davidson first became interested in golf following after her mother, Kelli, who golfed in high school and college, and was a previous member at Egypt Valley.

“I would follow her to the range and would take part in her junior clinics that she would put on,” Davidson said. “I loved being outside on the course and being a part of the game excited me.”

This season, Davidson and her team at Rockford were All Conference Champions, as well as undefeated in the conference for the fourth year in a row.

“We then went onto regionals and won for the third consecutive year by 30 strokes at the Meadows at Grand Valley, also qualifying as a team for Division 1 State Finals at Bedford Valley,” Davidson said. “I placed top 10 in almost every high school conference tournament I played in, as well as top 10 at regionals. We had a pretty good team showing at state on two very tough weather days.”

Shortly after state finals, Davidson committed to play golf at Lake Superior State University.

“I aspire to be the best I can be on the course, I try and keep a positive attitude and be a strong and competitive team player,” she said. “I can’t wait for my next four years as a Laker!”

As a freshman, Bella Chiodini tried out for the golf team without ever playing 18 holes. At the time, she was most often found spending her summer on the tennis courts or in the pool with friends (golf was usually last on her list of activities). And while golf initially was something enjoyed more so by her mother and father, the family would golf together on occasion. Bella decided to try out for the golf team as a way to a have a sport to play in the fall, stay in shape and meet new friends.

Now as a junior, Bella enjoys the sport and all that comes along with it. Her proudest accomplishment this year include receiving the Hawk Award from Coach T, in addition to earning an All Conference Honorable Mention. She also earned All State Academic and managed to shoot an 88, shave six strokes off her game, outdrive her mom and had several almost-hole-in-ones.

Freshman Stella Bernhardt got her first set of clubs in second grade she and her family lived on a golf course in Nashville, Tennessee for a year. Since moving to Grand Rapids, Bernhardt has enjoyed growing her skills at Egypt Valley.

“The junior golf clinics, Junior PGA programs, playing with my friends, and family Sunday play at Egypt Valley got me out playing more,” Stella said. “John and the other pros started working on my swing on a regular basis around fifth grade, and I saw huge improvements. From there, I got competitive with the game and wanted to improve each year. I started by doing a few tournaments in the West Michigan Junior Golf Tour, eventually doing the full tour and then moving onto the Meijer Callaway Junior Golf Tour. This past year, I enjoyed also trying out the Hurricane Tour and GAM events.”

Stella’s best round this high school season was an 82 at Quail Ridge for the Ernie Popiel Memorial Invitational with a fifth-place finish.

“I received All Conference Honorable Mention for the OK Gold Conference, finished the season as the number two scoring average for our Varsity team, and earned my Varsity letter,” Stella said. “As a team, we earned All State Academic honors for Division III, placed third in the OK Gold Conference, and placed fourth at Regionals. I also placed second overall for the Meijer Callaway Junior Tour Series in the Girls 13-15 Division, qualified for all end-of-season invitationals, and qualified for the GAM Junior Invitational.”

After a fun summer and fall season, Stella looks forward to starting her training program back up in January.

“For the remainder of my high school career, I’d like to consistently place in the top five for both league and invitational matches, as well as consistently be a contender at State,” Stella said. “My long-term goal is to work hard and get consistent enough to play Division I or II golf.”

Sisters Hannah and Sophia Flickinger have always been surrounded by golf. The pair would tag along with their father for a round, often not even playing, just enjoying the cart ride.

“Learning to play golf was a long process,” said Hannah, a sophomore. “My dad would often remind me that golf is a game of patience and appreciation, which has shaped my game immensely today. One year, my parents took my siblings and I to an LPGA event. Watching the professionals in person for the first time was an experience I will never forget. I viewed the players as such role models, and I aspired to be as hard-working as them. Every year since, my family attended this event, and it has gotten no less fascinating.”

Sophia, now a senior, started golfing seriously during her freshman year.

“My main sport was always basketball but after a knee injury, I was unable to play,” Sophia said. “I started taking lessons at EVCC with John Forton the summer before freshman year. Over the past four years, he has helped me get rid of bad habits, develop good ones and has been a tremendous help in developing my swing.”

Hannah also has benefitted from lessons with John.

“Once my interest sparked, I began taking lessons at Egypt Valley with Mr. Forton, and still four years later, I continue to take lessons with him,” Hannah said. “He’s worked wonders on my game, and taught me so much about the game. I couldn’t thank him enough for the amount of time and patience he’s had with me. Through Egypt Valley, I’ve had amazing opportunities to meet the best coaches.”

Sophia and Hannah and the rest of the Lowell girl’s golf team had a successful season, breaking many school records.

“Our biggest aspiration heading into the season was qualifying for the State Championships as a team. Last year, we fell only a few strokes short of qualifying, and this year we were absolutely determined to make it. The hard work proved to pay off, as we took first place at Regionals, shooting a 360,” Hannah said. “Our team is the very first group in the history of Lowell Girl’s Golf to earn the title of Regional Champions, and we couldn’t be more excited. Along with our success at Regionals, five Lowell players were recognized at the conference tournament for All Conference and All Conference Honorable Mention.

“Being recognized for All Conference Honorable Mention was a huge accomplishment for me, and having 4 of my teammates alongside me made the recognition even better. My coach, Mr. Bruwer has supported this team and been the best we could ever ask for.”

Sophia noted that their coach and team decided it was important to play every girl on their roster at least once while competing in the State competition.

“No other team did this, but it was so cool to have the entire team be a part of that life changing experience,” Sophia said. “I received Academic Honorable Mention as an individual, and our team was nominated for Academic All State. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my high school golf career.”

Hannah believes that being raised around the sport has taught her to appreciate the bits of relaxation and escape golf can bring, along with seeing what dedication and hard work can accomplish.

“Whether it be collegiately or just for fun, golf is a game I will never quit,” Hannah said. “It has taught me so much about myself and I’ve met so many amazing people throughout my experiences. My coaches are of my most valued role models, and I can never stop thanking them for all that they’ve done for me. Come the next few years, I’m determined to repeat the successes of the season of 2022, and I cannot wait to see what the future will bring.”