Mason High School’s athletic programs have produced numerous individual state champions over the years, but the boys’ and girls’ golf programs have only had the good fortune of producing one state champion — 1989 graduate Carolyn Nodus.
As important as her on-the-course efforts were at achieving such acclaim, without the off-the-course efforts of Nodus, her teammates and her coach, her individual and team accolades may have never been achieved.
When Nodus entered high school in 1985, a state championship in golf was literally just a dream. Mason did not have a girls’ program so in order to compete on the golf course, Nodus tried out that fall for the boys’ golf team, and along with sophomore Cheryl Hawkins, competed on the boys’ junior varsity golf team. Playing from the boys’ tees, Nodus averaged 50.29 in 14 nine-hole matches.
More important, however, Nodus and Hawkins began discussing the possibility of a girls’ golf team with the boys’ golf coach, Marv Pulver.
“I encouraged the girls to recruit 12-15 girls so we could have both a varsity and JV team,” recalled Pulver. With Pulver’s help, the girls gathered enough interested golfers to form an intramural team for the spring which eventually evolved into a varsity sport the following year.
Nodus’ golfing prowess was, indeed, a motivating factor in Mason successfully establishing a girls’ golf program, and the 1987 inaugural season was a record year for her.
As a sophomore, she set every individual girls’ golf record possible at Mason High School, averaging 42.67 over 18 nine-hole rounds that season and shooting the team’s low score of 39.
But even more impressive is that in the 29 seasons since, only one golfer has broken any of those records — Nodus herself in her junior or senior seasons.
As a sophomore, Nodus was named by the Lansing State Journal to the All-Area first team. She did not garner any All-League recognition simply because the team did not belong to a conference.
The team’s success in its inaugural season was noteworthy as well, finishing 11–1 for the year and just missing a trip to states with a fifth-place finish at regionals.
Nodus’ numbers improved every season, but during her junior year she received the highest honors possible. She shaved a full two strokes off her previous season average for nine holes — finishing the year with a 40.65 average — and was named to the All-Area first team for the second consecutive year.
Other achievements that spring included being named WILX-TV Channel 10’s “Prep Athlete of the Week,” breaking her nine-hole game record by one stroke, and improving her 18-hole game record by four strokes to a 75—a record that still stands today.
Once again, she led the team in a successful season and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player. With an 11–3 overall record, the girls again finished fifth at the regional, again just missing qualifying for states. But Nodus’ greatest individual accomplishment occurred in early June.
Battling 90-degree temperatures and 99 other competitors at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers East Golf Course, she shot a 77 to win the state finals individual crown.
“Carolyn was so calm and focused on her golf game that day, she was impressive,” said Pulver.
In the summer that followed, Nodus built on her successful state championship finish. She won a number of local and state tournaments, including first-place finishes in the Lansing girls’ tournament, the Jr. PGA and the Jr. GAM.
In fact, her resume was so impressive that she was named Miss Golf by the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association.
Nodus found ways to improve in her senior season. Individually, she improved her season nine-hole average to 39.95, and no Mason golfer has gotten within four strokes of that record in the 29 years since.
She continued the yearly trend of topping her own nine-hole and 18-hole records with 35 and 75, respectively. In fact, Nodus holds the top five performances for both nine holes and 18 holes in Mason girls’ golf history.
Despite her individual prowess, perhaps Nodus’ proudest achievement in her final season was a team accomplishment. After narrowly missing qualifying for states the previous two seasons, the Mason team finally broke through with a third-place finish at regionals. Competing at Michigan State’s Forest Akers Golf Course, the girls finished fourth overall in the team finals.
“We had a senior dominated team that played well and supported one another,” said Pulver. Overall, the team went 12–2 in dual matches, and the fourth-place finish at states is still Mason’s all-time best.
Again, weather was a challenge for Nodus in individual play as the previous year’s extreme heat was replaced by extreme rain. Nodus’ came up just shy of repeating as state champion, but her score of 87 was good enough for the runner-up spot.
A true team player, Nodus’ told the Lansing State Journal at the time, “I wanted to have a good score for the team, not necessarily for myself.” Nodus received All-Area and All-State recognition for the third consecutive year and was named a National High School Golf All-American.
Following her senior season with Mason girls’ golf, Nodus finished fourth in the 1989 All-American Prep National Golf Championship.
As a Michigan State Spartan, she was a four-year letter-winner on the women’s golf team. As a freshman, her 82.32 was the team’s No. 2 scoring average for 18 holes.
In her sophomore season, she placed fifth at the Iowa Hawkeye Invitational and was named MSU Athlete of the Week as a result.
A big year for Nodus as both an amateur and a Spartan was 1992. She was runner-up in both the Michigan Public Links Tournament and the Michigan Women’s Amateur Tournament.
As a junior, she had the Spartan women’s lowest scoring average with an 80.06 and was the top finisher (17th place) at the Big Ten Championships.
Nodus, who now resides in West Palm Beach, Fla. is the first of four athletes and one honorary member to be inducted into the 2015 class of the Mason High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Hall of Fame ceremony
Throughout the summer, the Mason High School Athletic Hall of Fame will release articles announcing the 2015 induction class. The induction class will be honored at the halftime ceremony of Mason’s home football game on Friday, Sept.11.