BANGOR — Tovie St. Louis of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., made her tournament debut playing against pros in the 2006 Greater Bangor Open.
Next week, she will start down the path she hopes leads to her own pro career. St. Louis will play in the first stage of qualifying school for the LPGA and Futures tours July 26-29 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
St. Louis is excited about the 2-for-1 opportunity, a first for the women.
“The LPGA bought the Futures Tour, so now you can qualify for both at the same time instead of two different qualifiers. It’s like the PGA Tour and the Nationwide Tour,” said the 23-year-old St. Louis.
This won’t be her first qualifying attempt.
“I tried the last two years to qualify for the Futures Tour. I made it both times, but I didn’t think my status would (get her into many events), so I kept my amateur status,” she continued.
Qualifying involves three stages, so making the cut next week will only get her into the second stage, which is in September. The final stage is the first week in December.
St. Louis has made the commitment this time to carry through should she make it, having left Barry University after 1 1/2 years.
“It wasn’t working out for me,” she explained. “I wanted to just play golf. That’s where my heart and my head are.”
She plans on turning pro next month whether she advances in qualifying or not.
“I’m going to stay an amateur through August. I still want to play in the Florida-Georgia Challenge,” she said.
Her hopes have been further lifted by changing drivers. She is now using a TaylorMade R11.
“I’ve had it four days and this is the first tournament I’ve used it,” she said after posting a round of 8-over-par 77. She is playing from the same tees as the men.
“It goes farther and my misses are better,” she said.
The change is considerable.
“There were some par 4s I couldn’t think of reaching before. Now, I’m standing out there with an iron in my hand,” she said. “It’s nuts. It absolutely blows my mind.”
Her eagerness to play has stepped up a notch.
“I’m excited to get out there with the big girls,” she said.
Supporting autism services
For the second year in a row, Penquis Autism Community Services is the primary charity of the GBO.
“We have had a nice response since announcing Penquis Autism Community Services will be our primary charity this year,” said GBO president Rob Jarvis, an assistant pro at Bangor Muni, in a press release.
Penquis Autism Community Services offers case management to families in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties for children and individuals up to age 20 who have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder.
A most unusual prize
When a tournament offers a big prize for a hole-in-one, usually it’s a car or cash payout that could go as high as $1 million.
During the GBO pro-am Wednesday, the prize on the 11th hole took on a whole new look, a shiny red tractor with a front-end loader offered by Bruce’s Trailer Sales in Old Town.
It might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but plenty of people expressed an interest in winning it by acing the 175-yard 11th hole.
None did, but owner Bruce Shirland stoody by it and encouraged people to win it.
Shirland wondered if maybe he shouldn’t have offered a different tractor because of the hot, sunny day, one with a closed cab and air conditioning.
“We had one at Corinth last week. (The employee) showing it, if he got too hot, he’d get in the cab and fire up the A/C,” said Shirland, smiling.