Ricky Jones of Thomaston said his chances to win the sixth annual Downeast Metro Amateur Golf Tournament aren’t very good.
“The [driving] range hasn’t been open at the Samoset [Resort Golf Course in Rockport] and that’s usually where I find my swing and bring it to the course,” said the three-time Maine Amateur champion and three-time runner-up.
The Downeast Metro Amateur will be played Saturday and Sunday at the Kebo Valley Club in Bar Harbor and the Bangor Municipal Golf Course.
Jones said he has played more than usual this spring.
“There aren’t any kids’ activities, so I’ve had more free time,” he said.
Even though he isn’t hitting the ball as well as he would like, he is looking forward to the tournament.
“It should be fun,” he said.
“They’re two great courses. Kebo’s greens are a little faster. It’s more difficult to putt there. Bangor’s greens are a little bigger,” Jones said.
He said both courses can be tough.
“It depends on where you hit it onto the green. If you hit it on the wrong side of the green at Bangor, you could be facing a 60-to-70-foot putt. If you put it on the wrong side of the hole at Kebo, because the greens are fast and sloped, you could wind up seeing your putt roll off the green,” Jones said.
As with any tournament, he said the key to success is the short game within 100 yards of the hole.
The 48-year-old Jones said the event will provide him with a good gauge of his game as he prepares for the Maine Amateur set for July 7-9 at Biddeford-Saco Country Club.
“Tournament golf is much different than playing with your buddies. It will be good to get back in the swing of it with the Maine Amateur coming up in three weeks,” Jones said.
Jones won the Maine Amateur in 2003 at Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono, in 2004 at Sanford Country Club and in 2013 at Augusta Country Club in Manchester. He finished second in 2003, 2005 and 2016.
He was the runner-up at the inaugural Downeast Metro in 2015, winding up two shots behind winner Matt Greenleaf of Portland.
“I’ve always admired [Jones’] career,” Bangor Muni pro Rob Jarvis said. “He obviously has a lot of wins and a lot of great showings. He can win any tournament he plays in.”
The 2019 champ was Stephen Saleeby of Raleigh, North Carolina. The former University of North Carolina-Wilmington golfer shot a 1-over-par 142 to edge John Hayes IV of Cape Elizabeth by one shot.
Hayes won the 2017 Downeast Metro and is one of the favorites this weekend.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, only Maine residents can play in the tourney.
Another Cape Elizabeth golfer, Reese McFarlane, Saleeby’s former UNCW teammate, will also be a primary contender as will Drew Powell of Holden, who plays at Duke University. Powell won the state Class A golf title with Bangor High in 2014.
Powell was fourth at last year’s Downeast Metro.
The A and B flights will be played at the Bangor Muni on Saturday with the C and D flights at Kebo. They flip-flop on Sunday with the A-B flights finishing up at Kebo and the C-Ds in Bangor.
Jarvis said there are 139 entrants, and he and Kebo Valley pro Peiter DeVos both said their respective courses are in excellent condition.
“We tested a new greens roller on Wednesday and it made all of the greens smooth. The roll is much more true now,” Jarvis said.
“The course is in fabulous shape,” DeVos said. “We had a very dry spring and we have re-done some of our bunkers.”