Frenemies Kole, Chrencik prevail in NWGC Ryder Cup exhibition
GAYLORD – Rivals on the course, neighbors off it.
St. Mary boys golfer Noah Kole and Johannesburg-Lewiston's Joey Chrencik finished No's. 1 and 2 in the North Woods Golf Conference Championship last week at Michaywé Pines.
It was a fitting finish for the duo, who each live on Michaywé, work at Michaywé and get their practice rounds in at Michaywé.
Their only difference is their age (Kole's a senior; Chrencik's a freshman) and that their schools are longtime Ski Valley rivals.
So when the NWGC ended its season with its inaugural Ryder Cup exhibition Tuesday at The Tradition at Treetops North, no one was surprised to see the team of Kole and Chrencik win.
They shot 2-over-par 74 and edged the NWGC's other two top golfers, Inland Lakes' Jordan Hurst and Wolverine's Collin Olds, who carded 10-over in the final match, which consisted of nine holes of scramble play and nine holes of alternating shots.
The conference's coaches divided its players into two teams for the event – half on an East team and the other half on the West – and saw players from St. Mary, J-L, Rogers City, Wolverine and I-Lakes mix and match with each other. The overall event ended in a tie.
Kole and Chrencik's dominance only brought the two closer.
"That was probably because it was a little intimidating at first. Jordan was hitting the ball well. His drives were unreal, and we couldn't compete with it on the first nine, but then we got into the swing of things. Our swings were equal on the back, and our short games were getting better."
Kole, who finished as the NWGC individual champion and guided St. Mary to its first-ever conference championship last week, said they finished with four birdies and did well making their putts.
Chrencik also had a chip in that kept their confidence in check.
"He chipped in on a hole to saves us from a blow-up," Kole said. "We didn't do a lot of damage to ourselves, and that was helpful. We had one double-bogey, but our birdies made up for it."
Added Chrencik: "All of our shots were really precise. You'd think we would do better on the front nine in the scramble than on the back nine when it was every other shot, but that was actually a lot harder, so we did a lot better on the back. All of our shots were crisp and clean. It took us nine holes to get warmed up."
"It was awesome, and I love Noah. He's great," Chrencik said. "Yes, we're rivals on the basketball court and on the golf course, but off the golf course, we can still joke around."
During the scramble, Hurst and Olds beat Kole and Chrencik by two strokes on the front nine – mostly because the Snowbird and Cardinal duo took a double-bogey on No. 9.
But they made up for it during the alternating shots portion, as they ended 12 strokes better than their rivals from the north.
"We played way better in the alternate shot part on the back nine than we did on the front with the scramble," Kole said.
Several of the NWGC coaches, including St. Mary's Jerry Kole and J-L's Curt Chrencik, said the first-ever Ryder Cup was a success, and they thought it was a great, stress-free way to end the season after their players wrapped up a two-month onslaught of competitive conference matches and invitational's.
Joey agreed and appreciated the chance to relax while playing his favorite sport with some of his best friends from other teams.
"I thought it was so cool," the freshman said. "During the season, we are so riled up about if we are going to win the next one and the next one, so this relaxes us a bit. There's more to golf than the competition, so it was great to relax and talk with the other teams. It was fun."
Both St. Mary and J-L head to the Division 4 regional Wednesday, May 31 at Manistee National Golf Resort.
Chrencik 2nd individually as Cardinals place 3rd in NWGC Championship
By Brandon Folsom ~ Gaylord Herald Times
GAYLORD – Joey Chrencik's only complaint was he didn't pack enough pairs of gloves in his golf bag.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys golfer capped off the regular season with a phenomenal round, as he shot 20-over-par 92 to place second individually and push the Cardinals to a third-place finish in the North Woods Golf Conference Championship held Thursday at Michaywé Pines Golf Course.
The Cardinals fought off pouring rain, whipping winds and a 75-minute weather delay to score 429 as a team.
St. Mary carded 385 to win the NWGC Championship, while Mackinaw City shot 423 for second place.
"It was pretty bad weather," said Chrencik, a freshman who has won three NWGC matches this spring. "You couldn't see, especially with me wearing my glasses, and it was always blurry. For other people, it was awful, too. When it was raining, the bugs would go away. When it stopped raining, the bags came back out.
"Next time, I'm going to focus on being more prepared. I only had two pairs of gloves, and the gloves would get really wet, and I had to change out gloves. Whenever I changed them out, they'd still be wet. That made my grip be off, and it was hard to hold my stance in the rain. It annoyed me."
Chrencik, who finished on the All-NWGC First Team, started off with a triple bogey, bogey and par before the weather delay.
Once he returned from the intermission, he straightened out his game, which included him a birdie No. 14 and getting par on a handful of holes.
Chrencik wound up shooting 46 on both the front and back nine.
"(The delay) kind of got us to relax a little more, but it threw me off my game," Chrencik said. "I was lined up about to putt when they called us in. It threw me off on the fourth hole, and I would have preferred not having to take a break. But with the rain and everything, it was a better decision."
J-L's PJ Bucy carded 107 to place 11th individually and make the All-NWGC Second Team.
Helping the Cardinals were Joe Bush (115 strokes), Blake Harrington (125), Max Roberts (128) and TJ Long (146).
Finishing behind J-L was Mancelona, which shot 466 for fourth, followed by Rogers City with 473 for fifth and Inland Lakes with 516 for sixth. Wolverine and the Alanson-Pellston co-op team didn't bring enough golfers to score as a team.
The Cardinals walked away happy with their third-place finish, considering this was their first spring as an MHSAA-sanctioned team. They spent the previous two seasons as a club.
"We had said going into this, me and (J-L assistant Mark Peppin), that if we get top three, that's pretty good for our first year," J-L coach Curt Chrencik said. "Obviously, any competitor wants to win it all, but, realistically, that's pretty good.
"It was a tough day with the rain delay, and with as wet as it was, it was one of those grind-it-out-through-the-whole-thing days."
The Cardinals will host a five-team Ryder Cup-style exhibition match Tuesday, May 23 at The Tradition Golf Course at Treetops North. They'll also squeeze in an exhibition against upstart Fairview before they compete in the Division 4 regional Tuesday, May 31 at Manistee National Golf Resort.
Final NWGC Standings
1. St. Mary, 385 strokes
2. Mackinaw City, 423
3. J-L, 439
4. Mancelona, 466
5. Rogers City, 473
6. Inland Lakes, 516
7. Wolverine, DNQ
8. Alanson-Pellston, DNQ
All-NWGC First Team
1. Noah Kole, St. Mary, 86
2. Joey Chrencik, J-L, 92
3. Max Lutz, St. Mary, 96
4. Collin Olds, Wolverine, 97
4. James Kendrick, Mancelona, 97
6. Michael Elliott, Mackinaw City, 98
All-NWGC Second Team
7. Cal O'Brien, Mackinaw City, 100
7. Tristan Glasby, St. Mary, 100
9. Nathan Wahr, St. Mary, 103
10. Josh Niedzielski, Rogers City, 105
11. PJ Bucy, J-L, 107
12. Nic Breckow, St. Mary, 109
12. Kash O'Brien, Mackinaw City, 109
Career best: Chrencik battles wind to guide Cardinals to 1st place at The Tradition
GAYLORD – Joey Chrencik didn't let one of the windiest and chilliest days of the spring stop him from carding the best round of his career.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston freshman shot 17-over-par 87 to place second individually and assist the Cardinals' boys golf team in winning a three-team match Saturday at The Tradition Golf Course at Treetops North.
"It was insanely hard because of how windy and cold it was," Chrencik said. "When you hit, your fingers would get numb, and you couldn't hit them straight, and you had no feel when you putted and no feel with speed. Everyone kind of managed to push through it a little, and it died down at the end."
The Cardinals shot 431 as a team to take first place, while Kalkaska carded 451 for second and Inland Lakes had 456 for third.
Jordan Hurst of Inland Lakes finished 7-over to take medallist honors.
Helping the Cardinals were Joe Bush (108 strokes), Max Roberts (116), PJ Bucy (120) and Blake Harrington (157).
"It was really windy, and it was cold," J-L coach Curt Chrencik said. "So, No. 1, I talked to them about keeping their hands warm, staying warm in general and keeping their muscles warm. Sometimes that's half the battle when you have difficult temperatures to play in."
Joey Chrencik has never shot better than 46 during a nine-hole round.
He had no problem erasing that previous personal best.
But playing 18 holes was challenging for both him and the field.
"He certainly had a good score," said Coach Chrencik, who's Joey's dad. "He was a little frustrated he left a number of shots out there, but you do that sometimes, and that's the game.
"Like I told them before, in our conference, we play nine holes, and here we played 18, so it's more of a marathon of chugging along. We'll have good holes and bad holes, but you have to learn to keep playing through it."
Joey Chrencik said he had a few bad holes, including No. 4 when he hit his ball down the fairway but somehow lost it and had to take a penalty stroke.
"That's the way the cookie crumbles, and that's the game of golf," the freshman said.
He made up for the bad holes on No. 3, however, as he made birdie on the par 5 with a 20-foot chip-in.
With the season over half finished, Chrencik is happy his scorecard is improving.
But he knows he can do better going forward.
"Looking at it, I'm saying I'm happy with this round," he said. "It's two of my best scores I've ever had, and I broke my personal best on the front nine and back nine. But for 18, I want to shoot below 80.
"I was on the verge of saying that's a good score, but, also, it's not. I know there are always better people out there, and Jordan did amazing with 77."
Cardinals find solid No. 2 in Roberts; Chrencik a medallist for 3rd time
GAYLORD – The steady play of Max Roberts has secured him the No. 2 spot on Johannesburg-Lewiston's roster.
The senior rewarded his coach for making that adjustment to the lineup during a North Woods Golf Conference match Wednesday at the Tradition Golf Course at Treetops North.
Roberts shot 19-over-par 54 to take fourth place individually. It was the best round of his career.
"This is the second or third time I've played in him that No. 2 spot," J-L coach Curt Chrencik said. "I played him there last week because he beat Joe (Bush) the week before. The two have an internal battle going, which is kind of cool.
"Max with a 54 was great. He did a great job. He's slowing down and making good swings. He's really played well."
Four Cardinals finished in the top 10 of the four-team conference match, including freshman Joey Chrencik, who carded 45 to take medallist honors for the third time this spring.
Bush shot 58 for sixth place, while TJ Long's 59 put him at eighth. Blake Harrington (64 strokes) and PJ Bucy (69) rounded out play in 14th and 18th place, respectively. The Cardinals shot 216 as a team.
Roberts said extra help from his coaches, Coach Chrencik and assistant Mark Peppin, has improved his play.
"We've just been practicing a lot," the senior said. "The coaches have been helping me out with tips to warm up at the driving range, and I've been more prepared, too."
The third-yard golfer really had to work to pull-off the personal best.
He started on the second hole and didn't find a rhythm until the seventh.
Roberts' solid mental game helped him get through it all, though.
"I started off kind kind of rough," he said. "I just thought if I played bad, I can only get better, so it ended up working better.
"On hole No. 7, it's a par 3, and my first shot went right on the green, and then I parred that one. It just made me really confident, and then I went and parred the next one, too."
Roberts said the biggest improvement to his game is how well he uses his irons.
At the beginning of the spring, he couldn't hit certain shots straight. Now he's finding consistency.
"Max hit them straight today," Coach Chrencik said. "He made good contact and slowed his swing down."
The Cardinals compete next when they host an invitational Sunday at Treetops North.
Roberts will use the final few matches before the Division 4 regional to try to shoot another personal-best score.
"I personally want to get my score below 50," he said. "I had a good chance today. Through eight holes, I had 45, but I kind of choked under pressure with a lot of people watching me on the last hole."
Cardinals' Chrencik wins NWGC match; Bush shows big improvement
BRUTUS – Joe Bush is focused on improving his game with each round he plays.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston golfer put together one of his best outings ever during a North Woods Golf Conference match Tuesday at Hidden River Golf and Casting Club.
The junior took 11th place individually after carding 26-over-par 62.
"His score is probably not indicative of the day he had, but I thought Joe Bush just hit the ball better today," J-L coach Curt Chrencik said. "He hit his ball straighter and his irons were better.
"He struggled off the tee and on the green, but his in-between game is getting better. He's going through a swing change right now, but for as much as he's changed, he's getting better and better."
Joey Chrencik shot 46 to become the individual medallist, the freshman's second straight win in as many weeks.
Max Roberts carded 61 to take 10th, while Blake Harrington's 68 was good enough for 13th.
"Our kids are hitting the ball straight," Coach Chrencik said. "We're still making little mistakes – as we all do – but they've had a huge improvement, and all of the kids are coming along right now.
Bush said the key to his success was consistently managing his swing.
"I kept my swing inside, and it made my ball have a better flight pattern so it draws," he said. "It's just repetition, and it's not too hard to do. You just have to keep up the repetition and do it quite often."
Bush's goal is to be playing "bogey golf" by the end of the spring. He wants to score in the mid-40s, too.
"I'm better, obviously, since last year, but I'm working on improving daily, and I'm still proving," he said. "I just get a little bit better each time I'm out there."
The Cardinals return to action when they host an invitational at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 30 at Treetops Resort.
Hard work guides Cardinals' Chrencik to medallist performance
Joey Chrencik knows a little something about hard work.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston freshman has dedicated most of his summers growing up to getting better at playing golf. From the Gaylord Area Junior Golf Association to the PGA Junior league to private lessons with Treetops Resort pro Joe Charles, Chrencik has gained some experience.
That experience definitely paid off Tuesday.
Chrencik shot an 11-over-par 47 to take top medallist honors in only his second-ever North Woods Golf Conference match at Summit Golf Course at Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire.
"It feels awesome," the freshman said. "I never thought I'd get this far in my golf career – not that I really have a career – but I never thought I'd actually do that (win a match).
"I just keep trying and trying to get better each time I'm out there."
Mancelona won the match with a team score of 235. J-L took second with 239, while Rogers City finished in third place with 250.
J-L's Max Roberts tied for fourth place individually by shooting 49, followed by Joe Bush in eighth with 62, Blake Harrington in 12th with 71 and PJ Bucy in 14th with 76.
"Joey was consistent today, and he putted better than he did last week," said J-L coach Curt Chrencik, who is also Joey's father. "He hit his short irons inside 100 yards and was making good shots. He struggled off the tee. He had a couple of holes he could have improved on, but inside 100 yards, that was his strong point.
"It's exciting for him to get first place. I'm certainly proud of him and excited for his future."
Joey Chrencik said the highlight of the day came on the sixth hole when he shot for birdie, but his 10-foot putt fell just 2 inches shy of the cup.
"Only two inches more, and I make that shot," he said. "That's the difference between a guy like Jordan Spieth and an above-average golfer who isn't a pro yet.
"But today I was just more focused. I thought about it more in-depth when I went through all my strokes, and it just worked out in the end."
The Cardinals return to action Tuesday, April 25 when they compete in a conference match hosted by the Alanson/Pellston co-op team.
It's a sure bet Joey Chrencik will be relying on his previous hard work to guide his performance next week, too.
"Definitely, it has paid off," he said. "You can't just go out there and hit a golf ball. It just doesn't happen like that. If you work and work and work, sooner or later, it'll pay off and you'll do better."
Johannesburg-Lewiston junior PJ Bucy said he was nervous because he had never played a round of golf quite like that one before.
The Cardinals' boys golf team opened the season by playing in a four-team North Woods Golf Conference match Wednesday at Wildwood Lakes Golf Course in Wolverine.
The outing marked the first-ever MHSAA-sanctioned round in school history for J-L, which was an independent club a year ago.
"That's the first time I got to compete with someone other than my friends," Bucy said. "When I first went out, I was a little nervous, but I got to talking with the competitor from Wolverine I got to go one-on-one against, and I got to see how he played, and he got to see how I played, and then I calmed down. That was fun."
Freshman Joey Chrencik led the Cardinals by carding 16-over-par 51 to finish in second place in his very first high school match.
J-L's Max Roberts shot 68, while Bucy and Bush each recorded 69s.
Wolverine's Collin Olds was 11-over to become the medallist.
"This is an accomplishment in itself," said J-L coach Curt Chrencik, who helped start the program last spring. "Mark Peppin and I both took the kids up there. Just knowing we got this program rolling and have kids involved is exciting.
"Most of these kids wouldn't be playing any other sports right now or be involved in other things, so getting them out here is key and so is getting them experience in the game. It's pretty monumental, and we just look at it like a way to get the kids out playing golf."
Rogers City and the Alanson/Pellston co-op team also sent individual golfers to compete in the conference opener.
When the Cardinals started their program a year ago, they played an abbreviated schedule with matches at Treetops North.
That will be their home course this season as well.
"I think it's an awesome thing that we're into (the MHSAA) this year, and we can play in the playoffs," said Bucy, a second-year golfer. "Treetops being our home course, I think that's awesome of them. It's just great that us players can get out there and compete and just get the experience. It's low cost and no cost, basically.
"I think it's just awesome."
The Cardinals return to action when they compete in a NWGC match at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 18 at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire.
Long wait: Cardinals set to play in first MHSAA-sanctioned season
JOHANNESBURG – There's one achievement you can't take away from Joey Chrencik.
"I'm the first-ever freshman golfer for Joburg Schools," he proudly touted Tuesday following the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys golf team's match in Bellaire.
That is correct.
J-L has joined the North Woods Golf Conference, alongside the likes of St. Mary, Mancelona, Alanson/Pellston, Rogers City, Wolverine and Inland Lakes, and it'll play MHSAA-sanctioned matches for the first time in program history.
The Cardinals had played as only a club team the past two seasons – competing in mostly scrimmages against themselves and sometimes St. Mary.
"I've thought about this so much," Chrencik said. "I was talking to my dad about it awhile ago, and I remember being like, 'Does Joburg have a golf team?' when I was thinking about going to school here.
"So we started a golf club when I was in the seventh-grade. We had a bunch of great people who joined it, and it was so much fun. Then one day my dad told me, 'We'll take this team to the MHSAA and make it an official golf team.' And now it has finally happened, and, oh my gosh, I can't believe that this day is here, to be a freshman and getting to play against other schools and teams."
Chrencik's father, of course, is J-L principal Curt Chrencik, who coaches the team and has helped get it off the ground. The Cardinals also have Mark Peppin as an assistant.
J-L hopes to be competitive in its first year of MHSAA play. But the players are also looking to improve their game in each match.
"People who know me know that I'm pretty competitive," Coach Chrencik said. "It's a balance for me knowing that it's our first year and wanting to be competitive. But more so, I feel that this is such a great group of kids, and the boys are just good people.
"I find enjoyment in that more than anything because we can teach them golf and enjoy them as people. As Mark and I really start to help them get better individually, they get more confident and better as a team, and it's going to be a snowball effect as a team."
This year's team features Joey Chrencik, the team's only freshman, who took first place in only his second-ever match Tuesday in Bellaire, as well as juniors PJ Bucy, TJ Long, Blake Harrington, Joe Bush and lone senior, Max Roberts.
Through two matches, Coach Chrencik has been impressed with how his players have scored.
"Each of the kids get better as the rounds go on," he said. "This last match, we started to get more consistent and hit the ball straighter and get more contact. That was our big goal.
"When we started, we went out and we said, 'Go out and try to hit the ball consistently and make good swings.' They really have done that. All over them were very pleased with the progress they've made throughout the last match. All of them left very happy."
What has also made the team happy is a chance to finally compete against someone other than themselves, something they've been forced to do as a club the past two seasons.
"Everyone is so nice from the other schools," Joey Chrencik said. "There are sports that people trash talk in, like football and basketball, or sports where they think they're more macho than everyone. In golf, it's not about who's stronger or faster. It's about thinking what you can get out of situations.