The three-day championship which begins Monday at the Augusta Country Club is billed as the 1st Annual Women’s Maine Amateur Championship. Since 1977, the state has been divided into two women’s golf organizations — the Women’s Maine State Golf Association and the Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association — and they’ve held separate championships.

The SMWGA broke away from the older more established WMSGA primarily because of the desire to hold more tournaments in southern Maine.

“I would call it a split rather than a rift,” SMWGA president Barbara Rondeau said. “It’s a tough state to organize geographically.”

Neither organization will hold its own championship in the foreseeable future although the WMSGA title was generally considered the state championship in the past and drew a larger field from around the state.

“It’s been in the works for a year and a half,” Rondeau said. “Numbers were down in both our championships. We said it just makes sense to really promote women’s golf in Maine.”

The organizations will remain otherwise separate, each holding two tournaments for members each week.

“We’ve had a good relationship for the past several years,” WMSGA president Trudy Dorval said. “We thought this would be best for women across the state.”

The organizations will pick a site for the championship each year from a group of eight or 10 centrally located courses. Next year, the championship will be held at Brunswick and the following year at Waterville.

“We felt it was appropriate the first year to have it in Augusta because it’s the capital,” Rondeau said. “We’re all very excited. We’ve got a good field.”

* * *

Waterville native and PGA Tour caddy Jeff Willett is no longer on the bag for Brandt Jobe, who called it quits for the year recently due to a herniated disc in his neck. Willett hooked up with Jobe late in 2010 and last year the two enjoyed a lot of success as Jobe earned more than $1.6 million. So far this season Jobe has earned just over $344,000.

“He’s been playing hurt all year,” Willett said. “He decided after the AT&T National he was going to shut it down.”

The herniated disc eventually led to numbness in Jobe’s hand and was catching up to him after four rounds.

“Sunday’s been a little problem for him,” Willett said. “He just can’t stay in his shot.”

Doctors have recommended Jobe rest for three months then go through three months of rehabilitation. Willett plans to rejoin him when he comes back. In the meantime, he’s picked up tour rookie J.J. Killeen and worked with him at this week’s True South Classic in Madison, Miss. Killeen was the leading money winner last year on the Nationwide Tour but has struggled so far on the big tour, making just over $260,000.

“He’s young, he’s hungry,” Willett said. “He’s a good player. He’s got to heat up the putter from what I’ve seen.”

The True South used to be played in October, but was moved to July when the tour added tournaments and ran out of room at the end of the season. With all the big names at this week’s British Open, it doesn’t draw much attention, although Willett said it’s a good place for a rookie to make a name for himself.

“It’s the last place you’d want to play a golf tournament in July,” he said, alluding to the heat . “Anybody whoever had a tour card in this event.”

There are a lot of impressive young players on the tour these days, but Patrick Reed is one you’ve probably never heard of. A recent graduate of Augusta State where he was a first-team All-American. Reed was a Monday qualifier for the True South for the fifth time this season and is fifth in earnings among non-tour members with just over $130,00.

“That’s a pretty impressive feat in my book,” Willett said.

 

* * *

For all her immersion in the golf world, Abby Spector hasn’t experienced anything quite like she has at Sugarloaf this year. That’s because after several years as an assistant, the Waterville native and seven-time Maine Amateur champion is finally a head pro.

“It’s totally different,” Spector said. “I’m the only professional at the club. A lot of the responsibilities that were shared in Florida are falling on me.”

Spector served as assistant pro for the past five winters at Gaspirilla Inn and Club in Boca Grande , Fla. During summer months she’s worked at many different courses including Lake Winnipesaukee and the Balsams in New Hampshire, Natanis and Val Halla Golf Club in Maine, and The Country Club in Brookline Massachusetts.

This past week, Spector directed a Nike Junior Golf Camp, a five-day, overnight camp for 20 kids between the ages of 13-16. She designed the programs for the group but had help in overseeing them.

“There are four of us,” she said. “It’s 24 hours a day for five days. There’s a really good support staff here.”

Spector is giving a lot of lessons and also trying to beef up the merchandise in the pro shop to include clubs and shoes. She also started a weekly email update with club members and runs a camp for juniors two days a week.

“Every day I do something different,” she said. “It’s busy but it’s good. I really like it. I don’t even feel like I’m at work.”

Sugarloaf is installing a new irrigation system, one hole at a time. Spector said the course tries to keep 18 holes open on weekends and for tournaments. Otherwise golfers play the scenic 10th hole twice.

Spector has worked out of Maine for five years. Before she left she established a successful junior program for girls at Val Halla in Cumberland. It continues to thrive along with a First Tee program that includes more than 40 girls at Riverside in Portland.

“That’s a huge improvement.” she said. “(Women’s golf) has a positive future.” Chip shots . . . Holes in one are rare enough but rarer still are two in the same day on the same hole. That occurred last Monday at The Meadows in Litchfield on the 7th hole. Moe Morin of Lewiston got the first ace, using a three-wood on the 137-yard par 3 hole. A few hours later Barbara Powers of Cape Elizabeth scored a second hole in one, this one measuring 113 yards. She used a 7-iron. Both players were in foursomes. . . . The Maine Junior Tour will play at Lakewood and Springbrook on Monday and at Natanis on Wednesday. The junior championships are scheduled Aug. 1-2 at Val Hall in Cumberland . . . The Maine State Golf Association’s B & C championship will be held July 30-31 at Waterville Country Club.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

 

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