Cole Anderson watches his shot during the opening round of the Maine Event oearlier this month at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

As the summer golf season winds down, area collegiate golfers would normally be preparing to pack up and head off to school, eager for a fall season.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans.

For two state golfers — Cole Anderson of Camden and Conner Paine of South China — uncertainty reigns.

Anderson is about to enter his sophomore season at Division I Florida State University in Tallahassee. Paine — who spent a gap year working on his game just outside of Tampa — is entering his freshman year at Saint Leo University, one of the best Division II programs in the nation and the 2016 DII national champions.

Sadly, neither the Seminoles or the Lions will have any team competitions, at least this fall. The Atlantic Coast Conference, which includes Florida State, canceled golf competition on July 29. Anderson said he’s hopeful the team will be back competing in the spring.

“We’re still kind of waiting on a little bit of guidance from the university on how exactly things are going to operate,” Anderson said. “I know we are going to have practices to some extent. I don’t know how many hours we’ll be doing compared to last year. I know they’re most likely going to still let us train and practice and get ready for the spring, we just won’t be traveling to any team events.”

The Sunshine Conference, which Saint Leo is a member, made the same move July 18.

“Right now, we’re not going to be able to practice as a team until Sept. 8,” Paine said. “So right now, we have access to a golf course. We have two golf courses that are on campus, so we always walk over (and play) in the mornings, or whenever we have free time. We’re pretty much on our own right now, but we’re still practicing. It’s just balancing (school and golf) right now, there’s no competing.”

Both Anderson and Paine will be practicing with their teams.

“We have a huge team, we have like, 16 guys on our golf team, which is huge for college,” Paine said. “We have four new freshmen, and I met all the freshmen and stuff. I haven’t met any of the older guys yet, we’ll get to meet pretty soon. I think, for me, and I was talking to the other freshmen, for us, it’s not that bad. We get to practice and catch up, because the seniors are obviously going to be better on these courses, because they’ve played it so much more than us. In a positive light, it gives us a chance to see the courses, get used to the different types of grass, because you have to adjust, and just to work on our games. With as big of a team and as good as some of the players are, we think it’s an advantage for us, just to practice this fall.”

Conner Paine tees off on the 12th hole during the opening round of the Maine Event earlier this month at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Anderson is still coming off a strong summer. In early July, Anderson defended his Maine Am title at the Biddeford-Saco Country Club. Two weeks ago, Anderson finished seventh at the Maine Event, which was played at the Augusta and Waterville country clubs.

“As far as momentum goes, yes, I won the Maine Am, but at the same time, it was a different summer, also,” Anderson said. “It’s a good time to work on my game and not worry necessarily worry about being at peak performance golf game wise. I can make whatever changes I have to make, and have been making over the summer. There’s some individual events that we can go play that are going to happen over the fall, so I plan to play in a few.”

Both Anderson and Paine are trying to get acclimated to school life during the pandemic. Paine, who started classes this week, said Saint Leo will be practicing a hybrid model, meaning some classes will be in-person, while others will be online.

“I think it’s a matter of time before everything gets shut down again,” Paine said. “I don’t think you can open up colleges and have this many people around each other and not have (COVID-19) spread. Everyone down in Florida — and there’s a couple of other golfers from Maine down here — and I know everyone here is just waiting (for bad news). Who knows what’s going to happen.”

Anderson and Paine are not the only area collegiate golfers without a fall season.

Mt. Ararat graduate Caleb Manuel, the state’s top high school golfer, is going to the University of Connecticut, where he will continue his playing career.

Unfortunately for Manuel, the American Athletic Conference shut down its fall golf season on Aug. 5.

Manuel had arguably the best summer of any area golfer. He finished fourth at the Maine Am in early July. Weeks later, he edged Armand Ouellette by a stroke — nailing a double eagle on the 18th hole — to win the Maine Junior Championship at the Gorham Country Club.

Manuel wrapped up the summer by finishing just one stroke behind Maine Event winner Brian Bilodeau two weeks ago.

 

• • •

 

We’ve officially hit the lull period of the Maine State Golf Association schedule.

The Four-Ball Championship was played last weekend at the Bangor Municipal Golf Course. The duo of Will Kannegieser and Drew Powell won the two-day tournament by four strokes, finishing with a total score of 123. The team of Mike Steinberg and Mike Arsenault finished second with a score of 127.

It’s the third MSGA win for Kannegieser this summer. He also had victories at the Parent/Child Championship with his mother, Kristin Kannegieser, on June 28 at Martindale Country Club, and earlier in the month, Kannegieser managed to edge Joe Hamilton in a playoff for his second consecutive Match Play title at Spring Meadows.

The next scheduled MSGA men’s tournament is the Senior Match Play Invitational, which is set for Sept. 21-22 at the Cape Arundel Golf Club.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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