VASSALBORO — The greens were flattened a bit and several holes at Natanis Golf Course were rearranged to present a tougher challenge for the 56th annual New England Women’s Amateur, which gets under way today.

“We’re fine-tuning some things,” said Rob Browne, the general manager at Natanis. “We’ll get the greens a little faster and we’ll work some holes to get up to 5,600 yards. We just made it a little longer. There will be a lot of positional golf.”

Natanis is hosting the New England Women’s Amateur for the first time. The three-day tournament will be decided on the par-72 Tomahawk Course. The Arrowhead Course is open for general use.

Golfers this week will tee off from the white, or men’s, tees on eight holes.

Twenty-four golfers will represent Maine, including defending state amateur champ Emily Bouchard of Saco.

Bouchard, 22, who attends Daniel Webster College in Nashua, N.H., said she is eager to compete in her first New England amateur.

“I don’t have expectations but at the same time I do,” she said. “I’ve looked at the pairings and seen some of where the women are. I just want to go up there and plays some good golf. I’m sure I’ll have some nerves once I’m there but I always say if you aren’t nervous then you aren’t ready.”

Defending champ Pam Kuong, of Wellesley, Mass., is also in the 76-golfer field.

There won’t be a cut because of the relatively small field.

Liz Wiltshire, 57, of Vassalboro, joins Dale Hannon, Marie Cates, Jennifer Durant, and Ashley Chubbuck as Natanis members competing this week.

Wiltshire, who tees off at 8:10 a.m. today, said the course is “difficult with tricky greens.”

“I’ve never shot under par on Tomahawk but I’ve shot under par once,” said Wiltshire, who is competing in her first New England amateur. “I’ve always been interested in doing it. I just had to do it. I think under par will win. It’s going to be a good experience and there will be some good competition here. We’re ready for them.”

Added Hannon, 63, of Oakland, who is in Wiltshire’s group: “It’s not an easy course. We’re all amateurs, so you never know. There is going to be some tough competition coming up but three straight days is a lot of golf for us amateurs.”

Hannon and Wiltshire went to the Natanis driving range Sunday to fine-tune their games the day before the tournament.

“I’ve been struggling with my irons,” Hannon said. “But my game isn’t too bad right now. It’s my home course and I’m shooting fairly consistently. You’re never as good as you want to be, though.”

As for their chances this week?

“Playing on your own course, there’s a little more pressure,” Wiltshire said. “But I feel like I could play good golf.”

“I won’t be in contention,” Hannon added. “I just want to shoot the best rounds that I can. I am looking forward to playing some of these other gals.”

So, too, is Bouchard, who will try to become the first Maine native to win the event since seven-time Maine women’s amateur champion Abigail Spector in 2001.

“I didn’t do any practice rounds,” Bouchard said, “but I feel like I am ready. I’ve played the course before. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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