BANGOR, Maine — Ninety-eight players registered for the Greater Bangor Open Golf Tournament this year, and committee president Rob Jarvis said there are a couple of reasons the field is smaller than usual.
“The economy hasn’t been good,” he said. “And with the weather, the tournaments have been decimated.
“And not having a major tour in New England is bad.”
That’s kind of ironic since the existence of one such tour a couple of years ago nearly killed the GBO.
If they schedule around the annual New England events, said Jarvis, then players can participate in both. With no tour, some of the players have sought other venues.
Also, only a few Maine club pros are participating this year.
“If I could get 10 more Maine pros, that would be great,” said Jarvis, an assistant pro at tournament host Bangor Municipal Golf Course.
For several years, the Maine chapter of the New England PGA has held its State of Maine Championship on Tuesday and Wednesday of the same week as the GBO, which opens with its pro-am on Wednesday.
This year the State of Maine was moved to August because host Sugarloaf Golf Club in Carrabassett Valley opened late.
And yet, Jarvis almost reached his goal.
“One hundred was my target for this year,” said Jarvis.
Jarvis is encouraged by some of the players who have come.
“We have a lot of real quality young players,” he said. “I’d be worried if I didn’t see them, but that’s not the case.
“It’s a good sign for the future.”
Small but a strong field
“This is one of the stronger fields we’ve ever had,” said Brian Enman, head pro at Bangor Muni.
Nearly a third of the field shot par 69 or better.
“I said we were going to see some [low] numbers and we did,” said Enman. “That’s great because people love to see birdies.”
He thinks that could continue today.
“If they can get their iron game going,” Enman said, “they can throw some darts in there [at the pins] and put up some numbers.”
Marc Hurtibise of Chambly, Quebec, the first-round leader of the GBO, was as surprised as anyone after shooting a bogey-free 5-under-par 64 Thursday.
The 45-year-old club pro admitted that he didn’t take his previous appearances seriously.
“About 10 or 12 of us would come down. We’d get away from our clubs and party for two or three days,” he said with a smile.
This year, he’s by himself.
“Even my caddie said at the last minute he couldn’t come,” said Hurtibise. “He’s about to have heart surgery.”
With only the GBO to focus on, he leads by a stroke as he prepares to tee off today in the final group.
Two hardy souls
The day wasn’t a total washout for Bangor Muni, according to Enman.
“A couple of members went out and played nine holes,” said Enman, calling them diehards. “They’re the only ones who’ve even tried.”
They were spread out evenly over the day on the nine-hole course.
“There was one in the morning, one in the afternoon,” Enman said.
They were able to play because the greens drain better due to being mostly sand-based.
“As far as wetness [of the course], I wouldn’t say it’s a lot drier, maybe a little,” said Enman.