ORONO, Maine — Casey Catell of Orono and JJ Harris of Bath will renew their attempt to win a Paul Bunyan Amateur Golf Tournament title outright when the 49th edition of the event kicks off Saturday.
The tournament, which is put on by Harris Golf Co., is being conducted over two days at Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono, which is owned by Harris Golf, and Kebo Valley Golf Club in Bar Harbor. Men and women in Flights A and B, the lowest handicappers, will play Kebo on Saturday starting at 7 a.m., while the men and women in Flights C and D will play at PVCC. The players then will switch courses for Sunday’s 18-hole finale.
The tee times have been set for both days for the field of 215 players, except the top 12 scorers Saturday in the A flight will be re-paired together for Sunday’s final 18 holes.
Catell and Harris, who had both shot even-par 72s at PVCC, tied for last year’s crown when rain washed out the final round.
This weekend’s forecast is for hot, mostly sunny days, which will help finish drying the golf courses from a week-and-a-half stretch of rain storms and showers. There is a small chance of thunderstorms, according to the five-day forecast on The Weather Channel website.
“The course is a little wet,” said Kebo assistant pro Chris Elrod. “The outer nine has some soft spots. By Saturday and Sunday, I assume it will be a lot better.”
Charles Melino, general manager of PVCC, was even more upbeat.
“We’re in great shape,” he said. “We dry out quickly here. The carts are out, the [driving] range is open, we’re ready to go.”
Melino actually had some kind words for the rain.
“The rain was good for the golf course, it made the grass grow when the sun came out,” he said, “but we don’t need it anymore.”
While the field is smaller than past years at 215 total compared to about 300 last year, there are still plenty of quality challengers, including the winners of four of the past five Bunyans.
Jason Harvey of Bangor won the 2009 Bunyan and Ricky Jones of Thomaston grabbed the 2007 title.
Harvey is going out in the first group Saturday at Kebo at 7 a.m., Catell starts at 7:24, Jones at 8:12 and Harris and Gay are in the same threesome at 10:12.
Sam Grindle of Deer Isle can also be considered a challenger after posting under-par scores at both the Class C state high school team championship and Class C state individual championship last fall at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.
The women’s championship has a clear field with 2012 winner Susan Gilpatric of Kennebunk not returning.