Leader of the Pack

GRACE ELFRING

LAINGSBURG — Record-setting Grace Elfring of Laingsburg has captured The Argus-Press All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year honor for 2021.

Elfring, who averaged an area-best 44.3 per nine holes, shattered several school records along the way, including the best 18-hole away round (79), best 9-hole away round (38) and highest finish at the state finals (T-23rd)

“I’d say that my short game improved a good amount — chipping and putting,” Elfring said. “I was doing better.”

Elfring won the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference individual championship for the second straight year. Her finish at the Division 4 MHSAA Lower Peninsula state finals at Forest Akers East in East Lansing earned her All-State recognition. Elfring also placed third at the Division 4 regionals with an 84 at Cascades Golf Course in Jackson.

Laingsburg head coach Greg Beavers said Elfring mastered the mental part of her game and made her one of the best golfers in the state.

“Grace started to really play smart golf after the first two weeks and got strong on the mental game,” Beavers said. “As the season went on, that would be the best aspect of her game this year. Her short game and putting were strong as well. Grace worked very hard in the offseason and during the season to get her game to where it is now and will continue in college — wherever she decides to go.”

Elfring said the highlight of the season was shooting a school-record 79 at Forest Akers East during the GLAC Tournament in late September. Elfring was dominant, winning the tournament by 15 strokes over her nearest competitor, Bath’s Aubrie Schaible.

“I don’t know, things were just clicking that day,” she said. “I had two birdies on No. 10 and No. 15. The first one was a long putt, it was a good putt, the second one wasn’t that long — but it wasn’t a tap in.”

Her previous best round had been an 83.

At regionals, Elfring’s 84 earned her a state finals spot. She also got to play on the same course — Cascades Golf Course — her father, Rich Elfring, played in high school.

“It was just cool to be able to play where he used to play,” Elfring said.

In the two-day, MHSAA state finals, Elfring shot 88 each day.

“The second day was in much worse conditions,” Elfring said. “Overall I had a lot of fun and I felt like I wasn’t playing as good as I could have been. But there’s always room to improve. You always have higher hopes. It was my first year at states so I didn’t know exactly where I might be.”

She said she is planning to golf at the collegiate level.

“I do have an offer for golfing at Calvin (College),” she said. “I’m waiting to hear about some scholarships.”

Elfring was also Academic All-State, maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She said she plans to study biomedical engineering oror some other area in the medical field in college. She has served on the Laingsburg Student Council and does volunteer work for her church.

Argus-Press All-Area Girls Golf Team

Player of the Year

Grace Elfring, Laingsburg

The GLAC individual champion placed third at regionals with an 84. Her 23rd-place state finals finish was the highest in Laingsburg girls golf history. Elfring was a first-team selection on the inaugural All-Area Girls Golf Team — headlined by Player of the Year Emme Lantis of Durand — in 2020.

First Team

Jana L’Esperance, Byron

L’Esperance qualified for the Division 4 state finals, finishing 32nd in the two-day event with 183 (93-90). It was her third year at the state meet, which tied a school record. The senior posted a 48.0 nine-hole average and placed ninth at regionals with a 91. She finished as a first-teamer in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference for the fourth straight year, placing fourth. L’Esperance was also a first-team All-Area selection in 2020. She is committed to play golf at Cleary University, where former Byron teammate MaryAnn Montgomery currently plays.

Olivia Holek, Durand

Holek, a senior, captured the MMAC individual championship and helped Durand win the league team championship. She finished 20th at regionals and posted a nine-hole season average of 48.2.

KellyAnn Rodriguez, Chesaning

Rodriguez, a junior, finished second overall in the MMAC and was a first-team all-leaguer. She finished 19th at regionals with a 112.

Ellie Feldpausch, Owosso

Feldpausch, a senior, averaged 49.0 for nine holes and was a Flint Metro League second-team all-star. A four-year starter, she finished 14th at the Division 3 regionals with a 104 at Pine River in Alma.

Marionna Callender, Durand

The senior was a first-team All-MMAC golfer, taking third overall. She finished 15th at regionals with a 106. Callender compiled a 52.7 average.

Honorable Mention

Mackenzi Aslin, Durand, Jr.

Kennedy Peplinski, Owosso, Sr.

Ava Champion, Corunna, Jr.

Jackie Mattison, Perry, Sr.

Neela Willson, Perry, So.

Brooklyn Durand, Byron, Jr.

Lily Miller, Byron, So.

Zoey Curtis, Byron, Jr.

Jordyn Lawrence, Durand, Jr.

Ava Penrod, Owosso, So.

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