FARMINGTON HILLS – As soon as he was able to practice his golf game during the pandemic Will Preston hit the practice center at Cascade Hills Country Club in Grand Rapids.
“It was valuable for me to be able to practice through the spring and all season more than I have before,” he said. “It helped me have a really good season.”
That successful season resulted in the freshman at Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School being named the Golf Association of Michigan’s 15-and-under Junior Boy’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 GAM.org.
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.
Just last week PJ Maybank of Cheboygan was named the Junior Boy’s Player of the Year, and Ariel Chang of Macomb Township was named the Junior Girl’s Player of the Year. Later this week the GAM will announce the final Player of the Year in the Junior 15-and-under category.
Preston, who won the GAM 14-and-under Match Play Championship, won the GAM Junior Invitational 15-and-under division, and was a stroke play medalist for the 15-and-under bracket at the Michigan Junior Amateur, totaled 1,250 Player of the Year points.
Maybank, the Junior Boy’s Player of the Year, was second in the 15-and-under with 1,237 points. He played in the upper age division in three GAM tournaments and won each time.
Robert Burns of Grand Blanc and Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club, the Michigan Junior Boy’s State Amateur Champion in the 15-and-under bracket, was third with 875 points. Vibhav Alokam of Ypsilanti and Youth on Course Michigan with 865 points, and McCoy Biagioli of White Lake and Prestwick Village Golf Club with 412 points rounded out the top five.
Preston, who is not related to 2012 Michigan Amateur Champion Drew Preston of Grand Rapids, said his best performance of the season was shooting a 6-under 66 in the first round of the GAM Invitational at Forest Akers West Golf Course where he won the 15-and-under division by three shots.
“That was my best round of the summer,” he said. “I played great and then struggled on the second day, but that first round showed me I was making progress. It was a good score on a good course.”
The son of Jay and Sara Preston works with PGA instructor Brandon Roby at Cascade Hills CC and has set goals of improving his amateur standing and earning collegiate golf scholarship offers. His parents introduced him to the game as well as his grandfather, Sam Till Jr., an Indiana Senior Amateur Champion and top Fort Wayne area player.
“My grandpa is a really good golfer and he has been a big influence on me,” he said. “I feel honored to be the Player of the Year. Winning was fun. It makes me want to keep working like I did this year.”
Wolfe said Preston was impressive this summer, especially winning in both stroke play and match play tournaments.
“His 66 at the GAM Junior Invitational was one of the best rounds we saw all summer,” Wolfe said. “He has a solid game. I think he has a great future ahead of him as well. He works with Brandon Roby, his parents are great influences, he works hard and is competitive.”