Rain halts tourney

Posted July 08, 2009, at 10:38 p.m.

AUBURN, Maine — Ryan Gay of Pittston and Jesse Speirs of Bangor continue to lead the Maine Amateur Golf Championship, but it was due to Mother Nature rather than any attempts at stellar play themselves.

Rain washed out Wednesday’s scheduled second round of the 90th event at Martindale Country Club. Maine State Golf Association officials have reset today’s tee times for the 126-player field at nine-minute intervals starting at 8 a.m., an hour later than originally scheduled.

“That’s so officials can go out and paint the course,” said superintendent Robbie Brown, referring to the white paint they use to mark the areas where golfers can take relief due to unplayable conditions.

It’s also so the MSGA, which conducts the tournament, can post a notice on the organization’s Web site in time to minimize the number of people who would travel unnecessarily to the golf course.

Brown and his crew spent all day Wednesday trying to get the course ready for today’s play, but continuing rain showers made that almost impossible.

“We were trying to pump out the bunkers, but they were filling back up as fast as we were emptying them,” said Brown.

He’s hopeful that they’ll get the second round in today, and the 18-hole finish on Friday should be fine.

The MSGA still has to consider contingency plans, though.

“We’re tossing around a couple of ideas,” said Executive Director Nancy Storey of the MSGA. “If we have to we’ll make a cut based on the 18-hole scores, but it’ll probably be low 60 and ties (rather than the usual 40 and ties).

“We’re going to do whatever we can to finish this in championship fashion.”

The rain was letting up to a light mist early Wednesday evening and Brown welcomed even that little bit of good news.

“If it continues as it is, we should be OK,” he said.

Storey had thought Tuesday night, based on radar weather maps, that it might be possible to play Wednesday after a little rain overnight.

“They thought it was going to go through,” said Brown, but it ended up stalling right over us.”

The weather has been the worst he has seen it in his 20 years at the club, the last 11 as superintendent and nine before that as an assistant superintendent.

“Oh, yeah, by far,” said Brown. “This is definitely the worst I’ve seen it. Cart paths were washed out, and bunkers.

“It’s been a trying year.”

The optimism by MSGA officials that they would be able to play Wednesday wasn’t misplaced.

“We haven’t had to close all year,” said Brown, stating that other courses in the area had.

Drainage, both natural and manmade, is the reason.

“The club has invested in a lot of drainage the last few years,” said Brown. “It’s paying off now.”

Conditions were so rough that the course would have had to have been closed anyway, according to Brown.

Storey has nothing but praise for the efforts of Brown and his crew, and she said the decision about playing today will be Brown’s.

“We always leave it up to the superintendent to make the final decision,” said Storey. “They’re the most important people in a championship event.”

She marveled at how other local course superintendents, including Steve Hoisington at Spring Meadows Golf Club in Gray (and Brown’s former boss at Martindale), were ready to step in to help.

“They’re artists on a different palette,” said Storey. “I don’t envy them their job at all.”

She also realizes that in cases like this, people can’t act, only react.

“What are you going to do? You can’t change Mother Nature,” she said.

dbarber@bangordailynews.net

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