FARMINGTON HILLS – Lillian O’Grady of Grand Rapids didn’t like golf at first.
“My dad had to kind of force me to give it a try,” she said. “I didn’t want to practice or have anything to do with it.”
Two years later at age 10 she realized she was surprisingly good at the game.
“Then I kind of fell in love with it,” she said. “I started working nonstop on it in the summers and now we live on a golf course, so that helps.”
O’Grady, whose family lives near Watermark Country Club, parlayed several top finishes across the summer schedule and has been named the 15-and-under Junior Girls’ Player of the Year, Kyle Wolfe, director of junior golf for the GAM, announced today.
Player of the Year point totals can be found on a pull down from the PLAY tab at GAM.org. In November Nick Krueger of Spring Lake was named the Men’s Player of the Year, Kimberly Dinh of Midland 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 Randy Lewis of Alma was named the Super Senior Player of the Year.
In the last two weeks Drew Miller of East Lansing was named the Junior Boys’ Player of the Year, Sophie Stevens of Highland was named the Junior Girls’ Player of the Year and Cooper Reitsma of Ada was named the 15-and-under Junior Boys’ Player of the Year. The Players of the Year awards have been presented by Carl’s Golfland.
“I feel really excited I won this,” O’Grady said. “I know I put in a lot of hard work on my golf game and it is cool it paid off. This kind of reward makes me feel like I’m getting closer to my goal of playing Division I college golf.”
O’Grady, a GAM member through Watermark CC, keyed her summer season as the 15-and-under Michigan Junior Girls’ State Amateur Stroke Play winner. She topped the points standings with 958.
Grace Slocum of Traverse City, the Michigan Junior Girls’ State Amateur Champion, was second with 831 points.
Saisha Patil of Okemos and Youth on Course Michigan (610 points), Ava Wisinski of Ada and Egypt Valley Country Club (598 points) and Avery Manning of Dexter and Youth on Course Michigan (413 points) rounded out the top five.
O’Grady is one of four children of Paul and Brigit O’Grady. Her oldest brother Max, her twin brother Sawyer, and younger sister Eleanor, each played in GAM tournaments last summer.
“We’re a golf family,” said Lillian, who is a freshman at Grand Rapids Christian High School.
Lillian carried her strong play from the GAM schedule into the high school season for the Eagles where she was medalist in the OK White Conference and regional championships.
“Winning conference was my best performance of the year,” she said. “I shot 4-under.”
O’Grady works with Raquel Bryant, a PGA golf professional at Thousand Oaks Golf Club in Grand Rapids.
“I’m working the most on my putting right now and trying to improve my swing speed,” O’Grady said. “Accuracy is kind of my thing and I need to add distance and score better.”
Wolfe said O’Grady was consistently near the top of the leaderboard all summer.
“She has a solid all-around game and as she gets a little more distance she is going to be able to have more opportunities for birdies and shoot some lower scores,” he said. “Lillian will also benefit from competition within the family as her brothers (Max and Sawyer) and sister (Eleanor) are all good golfers and together they can push their games to a higher level. She had some great battles with Grace Slocum and those two were the stars of the 15-and-under division this year in GAM junior tournaments.”