CUMBERLAND, Maine — With the high school year done, the Maine State Golf Association will kick off its junior tour Thursday at The Woodlands Club in Falmouth, the first of 21 events.
That schedule does not include the Maine Junior Championship (Aug. 1-2) or the Tom Kimball Celebration Scramble (June 24), a fundraiser for junior golf in Maine. Kimball was the MSGA junior director for 10 years before his sudden death in March 2009.
Juniors must be under 18, and the junior tour registration fee is $10.
Mike Doran is in his second year with the juniors and also has been given responsibility for the opposite end of the age spectrum, the senior tour and its 17 events this year.
“We offer a lot more events [compared to years ago],” he said, but there are constraints.
“We only have a certain window for these tournaments,” he said, pointing to the few weeks between school closing in June and the start of high school practice in mid-August.
“We give a chance for kids to hone their skills before high school [golf] starts,” said Doran.
He expects registration for the junior events to start picking up now that school is over.
“It was a little slow compared to years past,” said Doran of the early registration, but “even last week, a lot more kids were registering.”
Four tournaments are scheduled for Aroostook County — Aroostook Valley in Fort Fairfield on July 2, Presque Isle Country Club on July 9, Houlton Community Golf Club on July 16 and Mars Hill Country Club on July 23.
Next week, after the Kimball Scramble on Sunday, the tour swings through eastern and central Maine, starting with JaTo Highlands in Lincoln, followed by Clinton Golf Club and the Kit Bartlett Memorial at Belgrade Lakes before moving south to Val Halla Golf Club in Cumberland Center on Monday through Thursday, respectively.
In July, there will be two or three a week until the MSGA conducts seven in four days from July 23 to July 26.
The size of the field varies based on location.
“We’ll get about 10 in the County to close to 80 for some others,” said Doran.
The cost per event is $23 a player, less than the usual green fee at many golf courses, and there are some private clubs they play that they normally wouldn’t be able to get on no matter the price.
Doran thinks The Woodlands will prove a strong draw as opener.
“I think the kids look forward to playing a course the pros have played on,” said Doran of The Woodlands. The club hosted a Hogan/Nike Tour event for four years starting in 1990 and was in the Maine Open rotation from 1998 through 2001.
One idea Doran has hit on this year is to have a senior event and a junior event on the same course on the same day — July 9 at Sanford Country Club, July 23 at Lakewood Golf Club near Skowhegan and July 26 at Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono.
“That will make for some busy days ahead,” said Doran.
He also plans to feature a rule explanation at each site.
“If we can get them to learn the rules early on, it will help,” Doran said.
The players “run the gamut,” said Doran of their ability levels. “I see a little bit of everything.”
The low-handicap players get to stay sharp while the higher-handicappers get experience, he said.
“We’re an avenue for every type of player,” Doran said.
For the full schedule, go to the MSGA website at www.mesga.org. The deadline for entering any event is Friday of the week before.
Doran’s duties aren’t confined to the junior and senior tours.
“I also [compile] the Player of the Year points, last year I did some course ratings and I take the top seven juniors to the New England Junior Championship,” he said.
He’s also a scratch golfer and plays as often as his schedule allows.
“Most of my days revolve around the little white ball,” said Doran, with a laugh.
Juniors paired with Legends
Boys and girls ages 10-17 will compete Saturday in a one-day tournament as part of the LPGA Legends Tour’s $200,000 Hannaford Community Challenge at Falmouth Country Club.
The 20 junior golfers were selected from the First Tee of Maine program, whose mission, according to its website, is “to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.”
Each youth will be paired with two LPGA Legends members who will be playing the opening round of their 36-hole tournament, sponsored by Kraft Foods. Other First Tee participants will caddie for their fellow players.
“We have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of juniors playing in the tournament,” said Legends Tour President and CEO Jane Blalock in a recent press release. “It is truly a priceless experience for them to have the up-close experience to witness how true competitors and champions act on the golf course.”
The Legends Tour is for pros ages 45 and over, and a field of 40 will compete for a share of the $200,000 purse. The final round is Sunday.
All proceeds from ticket sales benefit local charities — Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Good Shepherd Food Bank and First Tee of Maine. Ticket purchasers can designate which charity receives their support. Tickets can be ordered through these organizations as well as online at www.thelegendstour.com/tickets/tickets_Hannaford.htm.
Tickets are $10 per day, with those 17 or younger getting in free. Military personnel also get in free with a current ID.
Hickory Demo Day
The Maine Golf Hall of Fame has scheduled its first Hickory Demo Day for Aug. 15 at the Poland Spring Golf Course driving range.
The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For a donation to the hall, any golfer can hit a number of vintage golf clubs, from the hickory-shafted clubs of the early 1900s up to persimmon woods from the ’60s.
A Golf Hall of Fame exhibit will be set up nearby in the Maine State Building.