January 20, 2018
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Teen caddie relishes chance


    BAR HARBOR — Brett Braasch of Portland has a Sweet job, so to speak, for today’s final round of the Maine Amateur Golf Championship at Kebo Valley Golf Club.

Braasch is caddying for 15-year-old Seth Sweet, who is one shot off the lead.

Many caddies are family members or longtime friends, high school or college buddies, or with some other connection. Sweet and Braasch had never met before last week.

“It was during the Maine Open,” said Braasch, who is only 14. “I was putting on the putting green. Dan [Seth’s father] asked me if I was caddying, and I said ‘I wish.’

“He said, ‘Seth needs a caddie. Are you interested?”’

Dan Sweet is the director of the junior program of the Maine State Golf Association, which conducts both the Maine Open and the Maine Amateur as well as a junior tour that Braasch takes part in.

Braasch said OK, and the two hit it off.

“It was pretty neat, he’s a great guy,” said Braasch. “He said he had a good time.”

Braasch did have a few butterflies.

“I was really nervous. I had never caddied before,” he said.

Braasch wasn’t the only one happy to get the opportunity.

“My parents [Brent Braasch and Rachel Daigle] were really excited,” he said.

The Sweets asked Braasch if he wanted to caddie again at the Amateur.

While he wanted to, approval would have to come from his parents.

Brett was visiting the Sweets in Madison.

“Dad came up to the house and we played golf [with the Sweets],” said Brett. “He saw how nice the Sweets were and he said he was OK with it.”

Many caddies help their players read putts, figure yardages and select clubs, among their other duties, but Seth hasn’t overwhelmed Braasch with a lot of those details because he knows what he wants to do.

“It’s really easy to caddie for him,” said Braasch. “He’s a good player and he’s really nice.”

“I helped him read a couple of birdie putts,” he said Tuesday, “but I didn’t help him too much.”

“He didn’t need any help, he was making putts left and right,” added Braasch. “Some of the putts he sank were amazing.”

Braasch has noticed two facts about Sweet.

“He has tunnel vision, he’s focused on doing one thing. And he hustles everywhere,” Braasch said.

Even though Sweet is only a year older than Braasch, he’s a foot taller. That adds length to his stride, and he often leaves Braasch racing to catch up.

“He’s so cute,” said Seth’s mother Kim. “He’s running trying to keep up.”

Braasch doesn’t mind.

“If Seth will let me, I’d like to caddie a couple more tournaments,” he said.

Braasch, who has been playing golf for four years, might not be available to caddie next year.

“I hope I get to play [the Amateur] next year, and upcoming years.”

Braasch said he normally shoots in the middle to high 80s, “but I don’t know if I could do that here,” he admitted.

36 in a row

Ron Brown of Cumberland Foreside is playing in his 36th consecutive Maine Amateur and fondly remembers the first one in 1975 at Fairlawn Golf and Country Club in Poland.

“I won the very first one I ever played in,” Brown said. “I remember it like it was yesterday.

“I beat [Mark] Plummer in a playoff.”

On the winning hole, he hit a 1-iron to 10 feet, flustering Plummer, who missed the green with his tee shot.

“I’ve still got that 1-iron at home,” said Brown, who also won in 1999.

He shot a 1-over-par 71 Wednesday to just make the cut and automatically qualify for next year’s Amateur, which will be held at his home club of Portland Country Club in Falmouth Foreside.

“I’ll definitely be there, then we’ll see. I’ll take it one year at a time,” he said.

Crouse on Kebo

Eric Crouse of Portland won the Amateur the last time it was contested at Kebo, in 1998.

“I thought it seemed easier in ’98,” said Crouse.

He and Plummer, who he defeated on the third playoff hole for the title, were four strokes behind Casey Bourque as they stood on the 17th tee. Bourque was playing behind them.

Crouse and Plummer birdied the last two holes and Bourque bogeyed his last three, setting up the Crouse-Plummer playoff.

“That’s the funny thing about this course. Anything can happen,” he said.

“It’s one of the most exciting golf courses. That’s why it’s fun to play and why everybody loves coming here.”

Crouse, who trails leader Ryan Gall of Pittston by eight shots, would like a repeat, of sorts, of 1998.

“Maybe I’ll shoot 64 tomorrow. That’d put me in a playoff, I think,” he said, smiling.

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