Toward the end of the summer, Gavin Dugas found himself in a funk just about every time he played a round of golf. The Maine Central Institute sophomore can’t put his finger on one exact moment his game started to struggle, or one exact reason. That’s the thing about golf, sometimes, things just happen.

“I just got into a bad groove,” Dugas said.

A mid-season match at Northport Golf Club broke Dugas out of the rut. Dugas shot a 36 that day and carried his play into the state individual championships at Natanis.

“When I shot the 36, it did build up my confidence,” Dugas said.

Even with double bogeys on his final two holes, Dugas shot an 80 at the state championships, tying for sixth place in Class B.

For his efforts, Gavin Dugas is the Morning Sentinel Golfer of the Year. Justin Rollins of Messalonskee also was considered.

“He had a slow start, then he really started to come on toward the end,” MCI golf coach Paul Greco said. “He got pretty consistent. The key with Gavin is, he plays competitive golf all summer. To be one of the top golfers in the state, you can’t just show up.”

Dugas’ father, Mike Dugas, is the pro at J.W. Parks golf course in Pittsfield. Gavin grew up around the game, and one of his earliest memories is of playing in a U.S. children’s qualifier at Samoset in Rockland when he was 8.

“I was 4 or 5 when I started using clubs,” Dugas said.

Added Greco: “He’s a quiet kid. His father is a golf pro, so he’s been taught the right way.”

Dugas’ goal heading into the state individual championship was to improve on the previous year. As a freshman, Dugas shot a 90 at the state meet and wasn’t happy with that.

“It’s definitely something to build on, compared to last year,” Dugas said of this season’s effort.

A big focus for Dugas was improving his putting.

“I know if I wanted to play better, I had to putt better,” Dugas said.

Dugas used a Medicus putter, a putter designed to break if you strike the ball incorrectly. Out of 100 putts, Dugas estimated he broke the putter 10 times.

“He hits a lot of greens, but not that close,” Greco said. “Our greens at J.W. Parks are small. You hit the greens at our course, you have a birdie putt. You get to Natanis, it’s a little tougher.”

In July, Dugas played in his first Maine Amateur tournament. Although he missed the cut at Sunday River by five strokes, Dugas enjoyed the experience.

“It helped me a lot because it’s a whole different experience playing with guys older than you,” Dugas said.

This summer, Dugas also represented Maine at the New England Junior Championships at Taconic Golf Course in Williamstown, Mass.

“That was a good experience, too, but I didn’t play very good down there. I was in that (bad) streak,” Dugas said.

His bad streak hopefully behind him, Dugas’ goal for next season is the same goal he had this year, continued improvement.

“I want to do better than this year,” Dugas said. “I’d like to finish at least in the top three in the state.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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