Setting a precedent

Escanaba’s Paxton joins Marquette’s Saint-Onge, Rochester with women’s double

By BURT ANGELI

Iron Mountain Daily News

NORWAY — Paxton Johnson wasn’t feeling all that great about her golf game after the qualifying round of the 92nd annual Upper Peninsula Ladies Golf Association Championships at Oak Crest Golf Course in Norway last weekend.

The Escanaba High School senior-to-be qualified for the championship flight Saturday even with an 11-over-par 85. Medalist Zoe Woodworth of Lake Linden was medalist with 79, followed by Hancock High School junior Payton Dube at 81.

“I was a little disheartened,” Johnson said of her opening round. “Then I thought I could come back (in match play) and hit some better shots.

“My first two matches went really well. I just left it all on the course and did all I could do.”

By Tuesday afternoon, the 17-year-old had won four matches and captured the UPLGA title.

By the way, Paxton is named after journalist Paxton Andrews, a character in the Danielle Steel novel “Message from Nam.”

History session

Denny Grall may be retired as sports editor of The Daily Press in Escanaba but he still remains the source for everything golf in the U.P.

This year’s 92nd annual UP Ladies Golf Association Championships in Norway drew just 55 golfers. Oak Crest’s 2005 tournament had 115.

The record-low is 40 players in 2016.

“The numbers have been shrinking for the past decade,” Grall noted.

Escanaba High School senior Paxton Johnson defeated former Colorado Mesa University golfer Zoe Woodworth 2-1 for championship flight honors.

Johnson also won her third U.P. Division 1 high school title in the spring. How many other golfers have won U.P. women’s and girls high school titles in the same year?

Grall’s research shows Marquette’s Carley Saint-Onge in 2011 and Marquette’s Avery Rochester in 2012 and 2013. Rochester was 16 when she won her first one, Saint-Onge 18 when she won hers.

Ontonagon’s Christine Walchuk won the 1994 U.P. Class C-D high school title and two years later the 1996 UPLGA at age 17.

2019 at Escanaba

Escanaba Country Club hosts the 2019 UPLGA Championships. Iron Mountain’s Pine Grove Country Club has the event in 2020, with pro Susie Fox already putting together what she’s terming some unique ideas.

Fast play the norm

The front nine in the championship match was played in a rapid 1 hour, 10 minutes.

Johnson, who plays at a fast pace, competes next month in a American Junior Golf Association tournament in Bloomfield Hills. She has been contacted about playing golf collegiately …

Oak Crest A-OK

A tip of the hat goes out to Oak Crest course superintendent Mike Drotzur.

“Oak Crest did an amazing job and I really like the course,” Woodworth said. “It’s in great shape.”

Noted Oak Crest member Kathy Gagnon, who lost in the semifinals to Woodworth: “Our grounds manager and workers have been just awesome. The course is in great shape.”

Oak Crest hosts the 2018 U.P. men’s tournament from Aug. 7-10.

Dube on the go

Dube has played in a few Wisconsin junior tournaments this summer tournaments, including a recent one at famed Whistling Straits in Kohler.

“That was really cool,” said Dube, who wasn’t sure of her score. “It was definitely a hard course.”

In addition to golf, she plays basketball, volleyball and softball at Hancock.