Chips travel to Mistwood for regional

Fallon Gates knows firsthand how fine the line can be between making and missing a cut for the state finals.

The Manistee junior qualified her freshman season before falling just a stroke shy of a return trip last year. Today, Gates and her Chippewa teammates, Makenzie Wittlief and Michelle Ball, will be vying for individual berths in a Division 4 regional held at Lake Ann’s Mistwood Golf Course.

“I’m just going to push that out of my mind, because you can’t really think about that stuff when you’re golfing,” Gates said of last season’s shortcoming. “I’m just going to play.”

Manistee’s Fallon Gates looks to qualify for her second trip to the state finals in today’s Division 4 regional at Mistwood Golf Course. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

Manistee’s Fallon Gates looks to qualify for her second trip to the state finals in today’s Division 4 regional at Mistwood Golf Course. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

Like they have all fall, the Chippewas will compete for individual success with just three golfers. Four are required to post a team score, and the top three teams in today’s field of 14 will move on as groups. However, the top three individuals outside of those qualifying teams will also earn berths to the finals, which are to be held at Grand Valley State University’s The Meadows on Oct. 17-18.

“I expect Fallon will have a really good shot at making state,” said Manistee coach Corey Crowell. “If she plays her game, she’ll be right there. She made it freshman year, and missed by a shot last year. 

“Her putting can sometimes get to her, so we’ve been working on that and she’s got a decent feel going in.”

Gates agreed that a solid short game will be key. When Manistee hosted last year’s regional at Manistee National, Gates pointed to a number of three-putts that could have helped shave her 87 to a qualifying score.

Knowing today’s venue — Mistwood’s Red and Blue courses — could give the Chippewas some added confidence, according to Crowell.

“They’re pretty familiar with it,” he said. “They’ve played it a number of times over the last two years, so they know what they have to do on certain holes — knowing which holes not to use driver on, knowing which spots you want to try to avoid playing from, that sort of thing. 

“It’s an advantage playing there a number of times before.”

Gates is the only Chippewa with finals experience, but Wittlief and Ball competed in last year’s regional. Their mission will be to post season-best scores.

“They are both playing really well right now,” Crowell said. “They’re playing their best golf heading into winter, so we’re looking for a good showing by them. 

“If you can end the year with one of your lower scores, that’s always a good thing.”

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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