Written By: Greg Johnson
FARMINGTON HILLS – Saisha Patil of Okemos surprised herself in the summer of 2023, which included winning three Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) tournaments.
“I didn’t expect to be that consistent and play that well for the summer,” she said.
The 12-year-old Patil has been named the GAM 15-and-under Junior Girls’ Player of the Year, Alex Clark, director of tournament operations, announced today.
Patil, who turns 13 in two months, is the youngest Player of the Year award winner in the seven years the 15-and-under age division has been included in the Player of the Year awards lineup.
The Youth on Course Michigan member was the 15-and-under stroke play champion at the Michigan Junior Girls’ State Amateur, won the GAM Junior Stroke Play 15-and-under title and was the winner of the GAM 14-and-under Match Play Championship.
“I think winning the stroke play at the (Michigan Junior Girls’ State Amateur) was my best performance,” she said. “I hit my irons well and when I’m playing well it is my iron shots that help me the most. It is the strongest part of my game.”
Patil’s three wins helped her total 1,350 points to top the 15-and-under girls’ points list.
Esther Zhang of Ann Arbor and a Youth on Course Michigan member who won the Michigan Junior Girls’ State Amateur 15-and-under match play bracket was second with 1,067.5 points.
Alena Li of Okemos, announced last week as the GAM Junior Girls’ Player of the Year, accumulated enough points playing in 15-and-under age divisions, to finish third with 730 points. Li opted more often to play in women’s tournaments and the older junior age divisions.
Madilyn Sheerin of Grand Blanc and Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club, the runner-up to Zang in the Michigan Junior Girls’ State Amateur, was fourth with 585 points, and Tula Puzzuoli of Washington Township and Cherry Creek Golf Club finished fifth with 512.5 points.
Player of the Year points can be found on a pull down from the PLAY tab at GAM.org.
In recent weeks Kimberly Dinh of Midland was named the Women’s Player of the Year, August Meekhof of Eastmanville the Men’s Player of the Year, Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll of Haslett the Senior Women’s Player of the Year, Greg Davies of West Bloomfield the Senior Men’s Player of the Year, John Morgan of Novi the Super Senior Player of the Year, Li the Junior Girls’ Player of the Year and Lorenzo Pinili of Rochester Hills the Junior Boys’ Player of the Year.
Next week the GAM will announce the 15-and-under Boys’ Player of the Year, which will be the final Player of the year announcement for 2023. The Players of the Year awards are presented by Carl’s Golfland.
Patil, the daughter of Viraj and Deepa Patil, said her short game is the part of her game she needs to work on the most.
“My chipping is inconsistent, and I try to work on it as much as possible,” she said.
She has been playing since age eight when her father arranged for a lesson at the Forest Akers Golf Course complex at Michigan State.
“I didn’t want to do it at first, but once I had the lesson I wanted to play all the time,” she said.
Patil currently works with Lansing area teaching professional Chris Mory.
“I would like to one day get into a good college and play college golf,” she said.
Patil’s father, Viraj, said he was most impressed by his daughter’s performance in the 2023 U.S. Junior Girls’ Qualifier at Port Huron Golf Club.
“She was plus-3 through 16 holes and then made a double and a quad (quadruple-bogey) to shoot a 79,” he said. “It was really an impressive round. The course was set up long and the competition was all older players. I was very proud of her. It was very windy. She won a lot of tournaments this summer, but the way she played for 16 holes that day was fantastic.”
Clark said it is hard to believe Patil is just 12-years-old.
“She seems to improve tournament by tournament, and she swept the field this year in her age division in which most of the girls are older than her,” he said. “She won in stroke play and match play formats, which shows her game is versatile. She is very quiet, but very competitive. She has a great future in the game especially if she keeps improving like she has the last few years.”