Very few summer visitors to Maine come to the state with no plans to spend time lounging on the beach, hiking in the mountains, or just roaming the coast. Andy Duvall or West Palm Beach, Florida has time for none of that. His current trip to Maine, with a side trip to New Hampshire, is all business.

“You have to mind your business. It’s tough to be out here in 85 degree heat and sweating if you’re hung over,” Duvall said.

Duvall is one of the many professional golf players who made the pilgrimage from the south to compete in Maine’s two pro tournaments, the Greater Bangor Open, which completed play with Saturday’s final round, and the Maine Open, which will take place on Monday and Tuesday at Augusta Country Club.

After Maine, the state most represented by players in the Maine Open field is Florida. Fifteen players who call the Sunshine State home are registered to play in the tournament, which is now in its sixth consecutive year at Augusta Country Club.

“It’s about the only time during the summer when you can come up and play relatively cheap events in 12 days and keep it relatively inexpensive and make some good money if you play well,” Duvall said. “From my perspective, everybody says they’re thankful we come here, but I’m thankful everyone puts on these events.”

Rocky Khara, 25, of Sebring, Florida has been a pro for 3 1/2 years, since he completed his collegiate career at Virginia Commonwealth University, is making his first trip to Maine to play in these back-to-back tournaments. Khara arrived for the Greater Bangor Open after playing a tournament in Montreal. Players making the cut in both the Greater Bangor Open and Maine Open will play five competitive rounds of golf in six days.


“This is what we signed up for. This is our job. If you’re not liking what you’re doing here, you shouldn’t be doing it,” Khara said after completing his second round at the GBO.

The chance to win a decent payday is a big draw for the southern players. First prize in both the Greater Bangor Open and Maine Open is $9,000. The payouts drop quickly, though. For example, eight players finished in a tie for 20th place in last year’s Maine Open. Each won $45. They were just six strokes behind the winner, Ted Brown. Six strokes over 36 holes was the difference between winning two years worth of car payments or a tank of gas.

“Usually these tournaments, top 25 make a check. You’ve got to be under par to make a decent check. You’ve got to make birdies,” Matthew Baker, a 28-year old pro, said. Originally from Pennsylvania, Baker now calls Orlando, Florida home. He was one of the few pros to bring his own caddie, his friend Kristin Ingram. Herself a former pro, Ingram knows the grind Baker experiences as he tries to make playing golf his profession.

“More than anything, it’s emotion, that’s the thing. Especially some of the kids, those who are (paying) their own expenses to get here. That’s even more pressure. I totally understand what they’re going through. It’s just a battle in the head,” Ingram said.

On the eighth hole of Friday’s GBO second round, Baker lipped a 30-foot birdie putt, and he and Ingram could only smile at each other.

“Having a caddy helps so much. I like walking as opposed to taking a cart. She definitely helps out in many ways. It helps to have someone who’s done it. She knows what to do and what not to do,” Baker said.


Earlier, on the par-5 fourth hole, missing a short birdie putt caused Khara to smack himself in the head repeatedly with the grip of his putter. Those are the shots a player remembers when he goes home in the red, or in the black.

“I’ve one bogey in 36 holes, so I’ve played smart golf. I’ve got to go out there and make more birdies. There’s tons of birdies out there. This is a short, muni course. You can go out there and someone can shoot 59 one of these days,” Khara said. “I was putting for eagle twice, and I three putted twice, so I made par that way. It’s the little shot, that’s what counts… If you miss those little ones, you’re not playing good.”

For the players moving on from the Maine Open to the New Hampshire Open, which begins play Wednesday at Manchester Country Club, they could play eight competitive rounds in nine days.

“You’ve got to embrace it. I like playing as many tournaments as I can. Just getting out of Florida is a nice change, and we play really nice courses up here,” Baker said.

For Duvall, these three tournaments are a warm-up for PGA Europe qualifying school in September.

“If you can come up and get a win under your belt and keep the string going for 10 days, you can make 10, 12, 15 grand, maybe a little bit more if you play solid,” Duvall, 33, said. “It cost me $2,000 to come up here for the events, and I’m fortunate enough that I have some people helping me. If I could finish top 10 every event, I would be looking at taking home some decent cash, maybe pay for qualifying school along the way. That would be nice.”


So, they’ll play with the sound of traffic rushing buy a few holes at the Augusta Country Club on Route 202. In the Greater Bangor Open, they played with the drone of planes landing at nearby Bangor International Airport every few minutes.

“I had a plane fly right over my head as I was getting ready to tee off. Honestly, everybody says they want to try and find the zone and all that stuff, but I’m pretty good with blocking stuff out,” Duvall said. As he spoke, another plane was coming in. “You hear it right now. It a constant thing, a continuous thing, the noise. It’s not like you get to the top of your back-swing and they slam on a horn or something. It’s actually pretty cool to see all the planes. It takes your mind off the action and give you a little something to look at and talk about.”

They’ll play if they win enough money to cover the trip, and they’ll play if they go home with a net loss. Then, they’ll move on to the next tournament.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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