BRUNSWICK, Maine — The Brunswick Golf Club, founded in 1898, is scheduled to host the Maine Women’s Amateur, beginning on Monday.
The three-day Amateur is a collaboration of Maine’s women’s golf associations, the Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association, or SMWGA, and the Women’s Maine State Golf Association, or WMSGA.
Among the top competitors are Emily Bouchard, defending champion, Leslie Guenther, Pennie Cummings, Kristen Kannegeiser and Mary Brandes.
Brunswick’s Director of Golf, A.J. Kavanagh, is excited about his club playing host.
“Barbara Rondeau, who is a member here, is the president of the Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association,” Kavanagh said. “She approached us last summer and asked if we’d be interested to hosting. And, by all means, we were.
“We feel this is a good showcase of the club and the golf course,” he added.
Kavanagh said the support of the board of directors and its membership was critical. Many members will serve as volunteers during the tournament.
The club will receive player’s fees each day, and some golfers will rent a cart so there is a bit of a revenue stream.
“It is a good chunk of outside revenue that we will get from them,” said Kavanagh. “But, hopefully, just the fact that we’re hosting the Amateur will help. Our lady membership is somewhat small and we’re looking to improve that. Having the best lady golfers in the state come play here will only help that avenue that we’re trying to tap into.”
“From the initial meeting between SMWGA and WMSGA, Brunswick was one of the top choices for a venue,” said Rondeau. “We went to Augusta last year for the initial tournament because it is the capital, has a great history of tournament golf and is central to both memberships.”
“Brunswick was an easy choice because of course conditions, location, and local amenities,” Rondeau said. “A big attraction is the par-5 ninth hole, over water, to the clubhouse. That will be the finishing hole each day and is a great place for spectators.”
She said the rough can be challenging and players must avoid water on three holes. Brunswick also is one of the longest courses in the state for women.”
Combining the two organizations once again to put on one major tournament has been challenging.
“This has been a huge commitment for three years now,” offered Rondeau. “The two organizations, with a committee representing each one, have had numerous meetings to set the guidelines and procedures. This, in itself, has been a challenge and time consuming because of the large geographic area we come from.
Rondeau explained that half the field has lower than a 15 handicap with 20 of those single digits. There also will be six junior players in the tournament.
Usually in a tournament like this, the host organization will work with the golf course on pin placements, rough cuttings, etc. Not so this time.
“They’ve be very, very kind,” lauded Greenleaf. “I keep inquiring ‘how do you want the conditions of the course?’ Because a lot of times with the men they want longer rough, faster greens. And Brunswick, in general, is already a long women’s course. There’s an extra par-5 and a few other things.
“So, length and difficulty wasn’t anything they wanted to address,” Greenleaf said. “They said ‘we come out every day to play and the conditions are exactly the way we want them.’
“They haven’t asked for anything special other than a few areas of ground-under-repair,” continued Greenleaf. “We had four women from Southern Maine and Northern Maine come out to play the other day.
“And, a couple of the girls who are running the tournament asked me a few questions about areas of relief and how we mark the hazards,” Greenleaf said. “But, as far as conditions, they said they were great. I did tell them the greens speeds would be a little bit quicker than every day.
“We strive, and not always attain, to have tournament-like conditions,” Greenleaf said. “We have a lot of outings and we have lot of member tournaments, so we’re as close to tournament quality as we can get most of the time. We do our best.”
With any competitive tournament, a primary concern is pin placements. The formula Brunswick uses is the 6-6-6 method.
“There’s six easy pins, six medium pins and six difficult pins,” explained Greenleaf. “And difficult not meaning four-putting, but just something you have to shoot at.
“With tee markers it’s the same thing,” Greenleaf said. “There are six holes that might be slightly forward or six at the scorecard yardages. Or six that may be a couple of steps back. And, every day that changes.”
The club will be mowing at night so as not to intrude on the event.
“We’ll try to be out of their way … I don’t want to be out here when they’re playing,” said Course Superintendent Allan Greenleaf.
The membership has been supportive, even if that means not being able to play until late afternoon.
“They are committed to making this as good as they can for the women,” said Greenleaf, head greenskeeper over the last nine years. “The members and the board have been very excited about having them here.”
Brunswick GC players scheduled to compete (with Monday’s tee times) are Margaret Brann (8:20 a.m.), Rondeau (8:40 a.m.), Terry Karkos (10 a.m.), Lynn Ruddy (10:10 a.m.), Nancy Fournier (11:20 a.m.), Marcia Blake (11:40 a.m.), Ruth Appleyard (11:50 a.m.) and Debbie Williams (noon).