CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — Abby Spector has been named the first female head golf professional at Sugarloaf Golf Club, the club announced Monday.
Spector, 31 and a Waterville native, said she applied for the job in mid-March after seeing it posted on a PGA website.
“I was looking for a summer job,” said Spector, who has been an assistant pro at Gasparilla Inn and Club in Boca Grande, Fla., since 2007. She handles tournament operations, gives private lessons and teaches junior clinics at Gasparilla.
“I applied for [the Sugarloaf job] and they called,” she said. “We’ve been talking, interviewing and negotiating since then.”
She did say she was a little surprised to get the job since she had been turned down for a head pro post not long before applying with Boyne USA Inc. for the Sugarloaf job. Boyne bought Sugarloaf/USA resort in 2007 and administers the golf course, which is owned by the town of Carrabassett Valley.
“I had just applied for a head job in North Carolina, but they were concerned because I was a female,” said Spector, who went to the University of North Carolina on a full golf scholarship.
“For the people at Boyne, it was not even an issue,” she added. “In fact, they said they had been looking for a female head pro.”
She said she was a bit down after the N.C. rejection, but felt better after getting the Sugarloaf position.
“Boyne looks like it will be a good company to work for. I’m excited,” Spector said.
She takes over for Steve Niezgoda, who returned to Michigan, where Boyne USA Inc. is headquartered, after two seasons as the Sugarloaf pro. That was Boyne’s plan, according to Sugarloaf communications manager Ethan Austin.
Spector, a seven-time Maine women’s amateur champion and 2001 New England Women’s Amateur champ, will be in charge of all golf instruction at Sugarloaf Golf School, including the Nike Junior Golf Camps.
She started her pro career handling the junior program at Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland. Last summer, she worked with the juniors at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
“It’s definitely a great part of the game for me, helping kids learn the game,” said Spector. “… That’s the future of the game.”
She will start working at Sugarloaf, ranked by Golf Digest as the No. 1 golf course in the state 26 times since it opened in 1985, before Memorial Weekend.
Spector was inducted into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.
Spector won the high school girls state championship from 1995 through 1998 and led Waterville High School to the state Class A golf team championship in 1997.
At UNC, she won the 2002 Pine Needles Intercollegiate in her senior year. She earned team awards as top freshman in 2000, for sportsmanship in 2001 and best overall in 2003. She graduated from UNC in 2004 and turned pro in 2006.
During the summers, she has worked at a number of New England golf courses, including her home course of Natanis in Vassalboro. She also has worked at Lake Winnipesaukee Golf Club and The Balsams in New Hampshire.
“We are thrilled to have Abby joining the Sugarloaf team,” Sugarloaf general manager John Diller said in a press release. “Anybody who followed Maine sports throughout the ’90s knows the amazing things Abby has accomplished throughout her golf career, and I couldn’t think of a better person to represent Maine’s premier golf course.”
Spector had originally planned to work toward making the LPGA Tour, but severe complications following emergency open-heart surgery in October 2003 forced her to put those plans aside.
She suffered some short-term memory loss, blurred vision and coordination issues. As Spector recovered, she turned to club pro work, especially instruction.
“I like to say my game has suffered because of it, but I think it’s really the lack of practice time,” she joked.
“I don’t think I have any lingering effects that will affect my life or my job,” she said. “It was definitely a challenging part of my life. I’m happy to have it behind me.”