Despite being born with one kidney, Walled Lake Northern freshman Sam Frelich was a hockey player — until three years ago when his doctor said it would be too dangerous to keep playing competitively.
Frelich, now 15, said he had mixed emotions after being told he couldn’t play the sport he loved.
“I was feeling sad, but I knew I had to overcome it and do different things,” Frelich said. “It took a while, but about a year after I couldn’t play, I decided to try (golf). After I loved it, I started to play competitively. I pretty much just tried tennis and golf. I like golf a lot more.
“A lot of hockey players play golf. It’s got a lot of the same mechanics and I heard it’s a lot of fun. “I was just hanging out with my friends at a golf course just messing around with them. It took me a while to get to the way I am now. It took about two years. It was a lot of practice.”
Frelich, in only his third match, hit a hole-in-one on Tuesday afternoon on No. 7 at Hickory Hills Golf Club in Wixom in his JV team’s 191-224 win over Walled Lake Central in the second match of the day between both teams.
Frelich, who shot a 45 in the nine-hole match, used his 5-iron on the par 3, 175-yard hole with a two-tiered green for his first ace.
“I wasn’t playing too good today, so I walked up, I cleared my head of everything I did today and I was just thinking about that one shot,” Frelich said. “I knew it was an all-carry hole, so I took a low iron and hit it as hard as I could. I saw exactly where the ball landed. It landed 15 yards from the pin and just rolled. I just stared at it. I was shocked. I was amazed. Everyone was shocked. I don’t think anyone expected it.”
Northern coach Tom Chandler said he was impressed with his freshman.
“It was the prettiest hole-in-one,” Chandler said. “He hit the green on the fly. It came to a rest 20 feet above the pin, broke, fell all the way down the hill and went in the cup.”
Frelich then came home to tell his family about the feat.
“They were shocked,” Frelich said, laughing. “They laughed. They didn’t expect it.”
There are only two golfers in the family. Frelich and his father, Jeff. He has three siblings, an older brother Jake, 18, an older sister Hannah, 19, and younger brother Brady, 9.
“My sister was really happy,” Frelich said. “My older brother didn’t really react, and my younger brother is too young to understand. He doesn’t know anything about golf.”
Frelich said his family has been supportive of his choice to play golf.
“It’s been a surprise,” Frelich said. It’s been a lot more fun than I thought it would be. My dad was really happy. He’s always played golf. (My mom, Karen) was happy I wouldn’t get hurt doing it. It’s just relaxing. It’s something to take my mind off of everything else.”
He said he’s benefited from the mentorship of Northern junior Luke Brinks, who is on the varsity team.
“He’s there to support me,” Frelich said. “He always helps me improve my game.”
Chandler said Frelich is a rising star.
“He’s one of my best JV golfers,” Chandler said. “He literally started a year ago. He had no formal training. He’s not a country club kid. He’s going to be a good varsity golfer. He’s just a good athlete.”
Birmingham Groves 7, Utica 2: Ryan Laub threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs — one earned — on five hits, while striking out seven and walking two for Groves (8-1). Rolando Arambula threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while George Cutler and Evan Gilman had doubles and John Kowalchuk had an RBI triple. Roman Germanski was 2-for-3 and Matt Fitzpatrick had an RBI double for Utica (3-10).
Detroit Cass Tech 15, Detroit East English Village 0 (4 innings): Alfred Sheffield struck out eight and allowed one hit while Julian Rainwater went 3-for-4 with four RBIs for Cass Tech.
Detroit Central 13, Detroit Cody 1 (5 innings): DeAngelo Bell and Aireonte Washington combined to pitch a no-hitter. Bell went 1-for-1 with two RBIs and Washington doubled with three RBIs for Central (2-1). Cody falls to 0-2.
Detroit CMA 15, Detroit Henry Ford 2 (5 innings): Ricky Stone threw a complete-game one-hitter, allowing two runs while striking out 10 and walking three, while Jalen Morgan was 3-for-4 with five RBI and William Thomas was 2-for-3 with three RBI for CMA (2-5). Henry Ford is 0-2.
Farmington 12, North Farmington 3: Artie Bentley was 2-for-5 with four RBIs and Tom Williamson had an RBI triple in the six-run third inning for Farmington (10-4, 2-2 OAA White). Parker Kent was 2-for-4 for North Farmington.
Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett 13-16, Plymouth Christian 0-0: Tyler Daar threw a complete game one-hitter with three strikeouts and one walk in Game 1, while Willie Morrison was 3-for-4 with four runs scored for Liggett. Morrison threw a complete game two-hitter in Game 2 with 10 strikeouts, while Connor McCarron was 3-for-4 with two doubles for Liggett (10-0, 5-0 MIAC Blue). Logan King was 5-for-6, with three hits in Game 1 and two hits in Game 2. Plymouth Christian is 2-7, 0-4.
Al Willman is freelance writer; News staff contributed