St. Francis' Grace Slocum wins 15U title at 44th Michigan Girls Junior State Amateur Championship

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Aug. 5—EAST LANSING — Grace Slocum, a 14-year-old soon-to-be sophomore from Traverse City St. Francis High School, could be described as a workhorse by her golf coach Craig Ardery. That hard work is paying off this summer.

Practicing every day helped her come out on top at the 44th Michigan Girls Junior State Amateur Championship last Thursday against Ava Wisinski in the 15-and-under at Forest Akers Golf Course. Slocum called the championship one of the best wins of her golfing career.

"I had a few bad holes and some bad shots, but overall, I'm happy with my performance," Slocum said. "Despite the wind and weather, I had pretty good control of my game, and I was making a lot of pars."

Wisinski did what she could to stay close to Slocum. After she tied it on the sixth hole, Solcum stayed in front with a stroke or two lead. All those hours on the course translated into a major victory.

"Oh, it's outstanding," Ardery said of Slocum's work ethic. "She tirelessly puts in practice and playtime to improve her game. I don't see a whole lot of it because she does that in the offseason. She does what is required as the team then does extra stuff with instructors at Bay Meadows."

During her freshman season, she went on to set new records. She had the lowest scoring average, collected six match wins — the most ever — and finished eighth in state finals — the highest finish by any St. Francis player.

Even after this feat, the sophomore sensation thought her freshman year was okay with "a few ups and downs," but she has committed herself to the game.

"I had a good team, and the coaching was good," Slocum said. "I didn't perform as well as I wanted to at states and a few other tournaments. It happens. It's golf."

Even after breaking records, she continues to dedicate her time to the game. Her passion for golf started when she was young after her dad would take her and her brother to the course. When she was about 10 years old, she got into the PGA Junior at Bay Meadows and began taking lessons.

Since then, she has practiced at least every day for at least three to four hours. She enjoys the challenge that comes with it and loves when she can see herself get better.

"She is the real deal," Ardery said. "I can't take any credit. She's a product of Bay Meadows Family Golf Center and the Junior Golf Program, but I can't speak highly enough about them and the players they are turning out with their programs."

Last season, Ardery remembered seeing her with five holes left when she was five over. She would go on to birdie five straight.

With the season around the corner, Slocum is excited to get going with the new season.

"I love playing with the girls on my team, but I am looking forward to practicing with them and forming that team bonding we had last year," Slocum said.