D’Mitri Monroe believes much of the improvement in his golf game during the past year has come in the approach shots that put his ball onto the green.
Given his success at Saturday’s individual state championships, the Jonesport-Beals junior has considerable proof to back up that belief.
Approach shots were the pivotal factor in three consecutive birdies that helped propel Monroe to a 2-over-par 74 on the 18-hole Arrowhead layout at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.
That placed Monroe second in the Class C championship behind only North Yarmouth Academy junior Tim Millett, who shot a 1-under 71.
“I did a lot better than I expected,” said Monroe, a 16-year-old from Jonesport. “I expected to be about 10 strokes over what I ended up with.”
But Monroe, who started his round on the 12th hole, gained early momentum thanks to consecutive birdies on what he described as three of the layout’s toughest holes, the par-5 15th, the par-4 16th and the par-5 17th hole.
On each of the holes, his approach shots gave him makeable birdie putts: a third shot from 100 yards away to within 12 feet of the cup on 15, a second shot from about 200 yards out to within 5 feet on 16 and a chip from just in front of the green to within 3 feet on 17.
Monroe went on to make all three putts.
“It really raised my confidence,” said Monroe, an honor roll student at Jonesport-Beals who also plays basketball for the Royals. “I was 2 under after that, and I figured if I stayed calm and made my putts I’d end up with a real good score.”
Monroe’s final score was 23 shots better than the 97 he shot at the state individual championships a year ago.
Monroe also benefited at this year’s states from playing three earlier rounds on Arrowhead as part of the Jonesport-Beals boys golf squad coached by Buddy Mills that qualified for the state team championships held at Natanis a week earlier.
Monroe finished one stroke ahead of Deer Isle-Stonington’s Sam Grindle and Madison’s Zack Sweet, each of whom shot a 3-over 75 to share third place at the Class C individual meet.
Monroe is in his third year as a member of the Jonesport-Beals golf team, and he was co-medalist at this year’s Downeast Athletic Conference championship meet at Barren View Golf Course in Jonesboro after winning outright DAC medalist honors as a sophomore.