When Alex Lipa first struck a golf ball at age 12, she was probably unaware of the impact that it would have on her, but also the impact that she would have on her sport and her school.
“I always remember just starting out and golfing for fun,” said Lipa. “Things just really clicked for me, I never expected this.”
These thoughts were racing through the mind of Lipa, as she, with sweaty palms and shaking hands, sunk a 10-footer in the third playoff hole to defeat two-time defending champion Liz Nagel of Dewitt for first place at the Division 2 State Finals in Ypsilanti, and pumped her fist in jubilation.”
Lipa registered an impressive score of 78- 74-152 to tie Nagel, before finishing the job with extra holes.
“My hands were literally shaking,” said Lipa.
“I’m not sure how I made the putt, I just tried to relax by singing a song in my head, you know, whatever was on the radio before we arrived at the course, I don’t remember which song.”
Apparently, the excitement of the moment brought out the best in the two golfers.
“Both girls were driving very big on the final holes,” said Seaholm Coach Leon Braisted. “There were at least 100 people in the gallery and the adrenaline was flowing. I mean, the eleventh hole was the toughest hole on the course and they made it the easiest.”
This marked the first time in three seasons that Nagel would not take top honors, and Lipa was crowned as the new champion.
“Liz [Nagel] missed her putt on the last hole, then Alex sunk a ten-footer and pumped her fist,” said Braisted. “It was exciting.”
With the help of whatever was on the radio that day, Lipa, in the unusual position as the underdog, overcame a seven-stroke deficit at Eagle Crest Golf Club, before conquering Nagel on the third playoff hole.
“Alex shot 3-under for the last 13 holes of her career,” said Braisted “She was very clutch.”
“I was probably not expected to win,” said Lipa. “Liz was ahead by so many [seven] shots.”
Aside from the individual accomplishment, Lipa’s triumph would not have felt complete had it not been for the entire team’s first place finish.
“I am so happy for my teammates,” said Lipa “I just really wanted Brooke (Selis), Elyse (Jackson), Ali (Restaino), and Sarah (Norris) to win also, so it was great to get both.”
Lipa, a senior and captain, made it a point help her younger teammates throughout the season.
“I try to encourage them as much as I can, and I will also help them if they are struggling with something."
struggling with something.” Junior Ali Restaino greatly appreciated Lipa’s presence on the team. “Alex is great,” said Restaino “I mean, she’s obviously really good at golf, but she is also really fun to be around.”
Braisted noticed Lipa’s influence on her teammates.
“The other girls on the team definitely watch how Alex practices and how she warms up,” said Braisted. “I mean, they don’t copy her, but they look at her as an example.”
In terms of college golf plans, Lipa has narrowed her choices to two highly respected academic institutions.
“I am pretty much down to Georgetown and Yale,” said Lipa. “Only Georgetown has offered me a scholarship, Yale is different about scholarships because of being an Ivy.”
Wherever Lipa’s golf game takes her, her accomplishments at the MHSAA State Finals are nowhere near the end of the road, in fact, they are just the beginning.
Editor's note: Click here to learn more about the Girls Golf team winning the state title.