Competitive golf was on display Thursday, often in the pouring rain, when Brunswick Golf Club hosted the second of four Maine Amateur qualifying tournaments.

“It’s amazing to have golf back,” said Brunswick GC member T.J. Whelan, who shot a 74 and finished third overall. “I’ve missed it, it’s a big part of my life. I’m just excited to get out in more tournaments.”

The annual Maine Amateur Championship is July 7-9 at Biddeford-Saco Country Club. The field will be comprised of 132 golfers, with many needing to qualify.

Willowdale Golf Course in Scarborough hosted the first qualifying tournament last week. Poland Spring Golf Course and Bangor Municipal Golf Course will host qualifying events next Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

At Brunswick, Alex McGonagle topped the field with a 68, five shots better than runner-up Armand Ouellette. 

The top 20 players Thursday qualified for the Maine Amateur, with the next three earning alternate status.

Across the board, the excitement surrounding the return of competitive golf was palpable. 

Maine State Golf Association director Brian Bickford said being able to hold the Maine Amateur – with four qualifiers – is a boost to the sport.  

“It means everything,” Bickford said. “I don’t mean to get super philosophical, but to have a sport that’s built around social distancing … Originally the state was looking at a June 1 start date, but we really wanted to get it going earlier. They hit us with a few more restrictions at the start, but we overcame that and it means everything to start May 1. The weather was awesome for the month, yes we had some restrictions and the club owners and managers did a great job of abiding by the restrictions.”

Some restrictions eased by June 1, when clubhouses and pro shops were allowed to open.

“Now what we are seeing is rounds up, outstanding weather and junior golf rounds are up,” Bickford added. “A lot are up because they’re at home now, and when school ends at 9:30 or 10, then parents are buying golf memberships for their kids to go play with their buddies, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Pink azalea blossoms frame Finnegan Sharpe of Brunswick Golf Club while he putts on the ninth green Thursday during a men’s Maine Amateur qualifier at Brunswick Golf Course. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

This year, the MSGA decided on four days of qualifying instead of the usual three, shortening the days and giving them more wiggle room with possible weather delays. 

Tuesday had waves of intense rain, but play never stopped.  

“I was struggling hitting the ball anyways so it definitely didn’t help, but I wouldn’t use it as an excuse,” Brunswick GC member Ryan Masse said. “It plays a little differently when it rains, it skips in different ways and ways you’re not used to. Putting was great, the greens were great and stayed fast and smooth the entire round.”

“I feel like every time I come here, because golf can be played with social distancing, it does not feel very out of the norm here,” Brunswick GC director of golf AJ Kavanaugh added. “It’s busy, the conditions are great. We have a disc inside the hole and so now it feels a lot more normal than May 1. We always love holding these events.”


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