Few, if any, golfers in Saturday’s state individual high school championships know the greens at Natanis Golf Course better than Erskine senior Shawn Soucie. And it’s doubtful any have played as many rounds this year on the course as Cony sophomore Thomas Foster.

Not only do Soucie and Foster play their home matches at the Vassalboro course, where team and individual championships are contested each fall, they also worked there all summer.

Foster played “pretty much every day,” during the summer, getting in as many as 36 holes when time and daylight permitted. His hard work paid dividends during the season when he went 9-1 in matches and qualified for Saturday’s individual championships by shooting 77.

“I would say he was the most steady golfer I’ve had all year,” Cony coach Tim Folsom said. “He was pretty consistent, within one stroke, home or away.”

While Foster has improved his game in nearly every department, Soucie’s greatest progress has been in course management.

“Most of the improvement has been between the ears,” Erskine coach Mike Soule said. “His decision making has really improved.”

Soucie, who averaged 40 strokes per nine holes during the regular season, shot 80 playing in the same Class A qualifier that Foster did. Long off the tee, he’s learned to pick his spots with the driver.

“I’ve learned to think my way around the golf course,” said Soucie, who played in the No. 1 spot for the Eagles this season.

Course management is one of Foster’s strengths, aided by the fact that he’s good with his long irons.

“I use my 4-iron a lot,” he said.

The two are pretty good friends despite being two years apart in school. At 15, Foster is still too young to operate mowers so he spent the summer weed whacking and picking up trash around the course. Soucie has worked at Natanis all four years in high school and has graduated to greenskeeper.

“They’re both great kids and have worked very hard,” Natanis general manager Rob Browne said.

Employees enjoy free golf and Soucie and Foster have taken full advantage. Foster gets out about noon and wastes no time getting out on the course despite a busy summer baseball schedule.

“He played any time he could possibly get out here,” Browne said. “His parents say if there were lights on the course, he’d be out there.”

Soucie’s summer hours were a little longer, but like Foster, he’d play every chance he could.

“I try to play just about every day during the summer,” he said. “He loves the game of golf just like I do.”

Either player would need an exceptional round Saturday to get into the top three, but both are aiming high.

“My goal is to make it into the top 10,” Foster said.

Added Soucie: “I’m just going to try to go and keep myself out of danger and play to my capability.”

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In addition to Foster and Soucie, individual qualifiers in Class A include Messalonskee’s Justin and Billy Rollins. Maranacook junior Luke Ruffing, who finished second last year, is among the Class B qualifiers along with teammates Cam Brochu, Matt Delmar and Tucker Whitman. Also qualifying in Class B was Maine Central Institute’s Gavin Dugas and Mt. View’s Austin Higgins. Class C qualifiers include Winthrop’s Taylor Morang and Anthony Owens. Monmouth’s Robert Vickerson and Madison’s Ty Cowan.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

ghawkins@centralmaine.com