GAM PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Macomb Township?s Ariel Chang Tops Junior Girls Honor Roll

  FARMINGTON HILLS – Ariel Chang of Macomb Township went over her scorecard for a third time because she wasn’t expecting a total of 62.

  “I knew I had a good round, but I was trying not to think about the score while I was playing and I figured it would be a few strokes higher than that, maybe a 65,” she said. “I surprised myself. It was my best round ever.”

  Chang, who posted a 9-under-par 62 at the Michigan Junior Girls State Amateur Championship at Forest Akers East to take medalist honors in stroke play, went on to march through match play that week and win the state championship.

   Her 62 was the lowest gross score of the year in a GAM tournament and she won another title in the GAM Junior Kickoff Championship.

  Those accomplishments are among the reasons the senior at Utica Eisenhower High School has been named the Golf Association of Michigan’s Junior Girl’s Player of the Year, Kyle Wolfe, director of handicap, course rating and junior golf, announced today.

  GAM Players of the Year are determined by the Honor Roll/Player of the Year points system. Player of the Year point totals can be found on a pull down from the PLAY tab at

  Last month James Piot of Canton was named the GAM Men’s Player of the Year, Anna Kramer of Spring Lake was named the Women’s Player of the Year, Steve Maddalena of Jackson was named the Senior Men’s Player of the Year, Julie Massa of Holt was named the Senior Women’s Player of the Year and Rick Herpich of Orchard Lake was named the Super Senior Player of the Year.

 Earlier this week PJ Maybank of Cheboygan was named the Junior Boy’s Player of the Year, and next week the GAM will announce the final two Players of the Year in the Junior 15-and-under category.

  Chang, who is a GAM member through Youth on Course, totaled 1,248 Player of the Year points.

 Kate Brody of Grand Blanc and Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club was second with 983 points and Sophie Stevens of Highland and Prestwick Village Golf Club was third with 867 points. Anci Dy of Traverse City and Bay Meadows Family Golf Course with 545 points and Adie Maki of Canton and Fox Hills Learning Center with 529 points rounded out the top five.

  “I feel so honored to be the Player of the Year,” said Chang who will play collegiate golf at the University of Detroit Mercy. “I know that I worked really hard, but honestly, being Player of the Year is a shock to me. There are so many players in the state who have accomplished so many things, and it is so hard to win.”

  Chang, 17 and the daughter of Von Hou and Xay, currently works on her game with her future college coach Larry Hamilton but credits her father for her development over the years.

  “My dad stuck with me all those years, pushing me and sometimes he could be a little hard on me, but he was really my biggest fan,” she said. “He wanted the best for me, and the hard work and him being with me and taking me everywhere are why I’m still trying to be the best golfer I can be.”

  Chang said moving on to college golf is what she calls joining the big leagues, and she is working on specific parts of her game.

  “I feel like the best part of my game right now is my driver,” she said. “I’ve always loved hitting my driver and it’s the best aspect of my game. What I’m really working on now are my short wedge shots, 80 yards and in, distance control. There’s always something to work on and I’m a little nervous about the next step. I know I can do it, but I know the work can’t stop.”

  Chang plans a career in dentistry and said she will start her education this summer.

  “My education will be a focus along with college golf,” she said. “I will play some summer golf tournaments, but probably not as many as usual.”

  Wolfe expects Chang to be a successful student and golfer at Detroit Mercy.

  “She’s in a good place there, and she will be able to play in tournaments and be one of their top players,” he said. “She could help bring that program to heights it hasn’t been to in a while. I expect her to be a leader and one of the better players on the team.”

  The 62 Chang shot in the Girl’s Junior Amateur sticks out for Wolfe as a top moment in the summer.

  “That was an incredible round,” he said. “It was like she played a different golf course than everybody else that day.