There are very few things that have come out of the past two and a half years stronger than before, but the game of golf might just be one of them.

Participation is surging in this centuries-old sport, just about the only one offered by the Maine Principals’ Association to make it through the pandemic without losing a full season. It’s not surprising, perhaps, given how the nature of the sport didn’t clash with the strict guidelines in place throughout 2020 and early 2021.

“Golf in the pandemic has really been a boon for everybody, and that includes high school kids,” said Gardiner head coach Ryan Low. “We haven’t had to face some of the things that other sports have had to deal with, and kids have been picking up the sport and enjoying it.”

The game’s growth over the past 30 months has now manifested in three classes of high-schoolers in central Maine and all throughout the state. With plenty of local teams boasting big rosters and bringing back top talent, there are endless opportunities for success throughout the region.

A year ago, Cony entered the 2021 campaign with what looked like a rebuilding job ahead of it with only two players returning from the previous season. Yet the Rams instead delivered an outstanding season as the team qualified for the state tournament in Class B.

Cony is set for another strong season in 2022 as only one player who played in last year’s state championships, Cam Sirois, graduated. Back for the Rams are the team’s top-three scorers, Alex Fournier, Brady Hopkins and Oliver Rodriquez, as well as Landon Foster and Cole Hamner.


Elsewhere in Class B, Waterville has an experienced team led by a six-member senior class. That class includes Pete Sack, a state qualifier, and Alex Spaulding, both of whom have been playing varsity golf for the Purple Panthers since they were freshmen.

“Those two are shooting pretty good numbers right now; they’ve been in the 30s a few times in practice,” said Waterville head coach Nick Curato. “Our big team goal is to qualify for states as a team. We missed that by two or three strokes last year, but we have pretty much the same group back and trying to do that.”

Maranacook’s Wyatt Folsom tees off during a high school golf match against Cony on Tuesday at Natanis Golf Club in Vassalboro. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Gardiner, which won one match a year ago, matched that mark in its very first competition this year as it defeated Oceanside by 10 strokes in last week’s opener at Augusta Country Club. The Tigers’ winning score of 177 was better than any the team achieved last year.

Medaling in last Wednesday’s match for Gardiner was freshman Jack Quinn, who shot an impressive 38 in his very first varsity event. Austin Gould, now a sophomore, is playing in the No. 2 spot after holding down the No. 1 role for the Tigers a season ago.

“It’s always good to have some strong players at the top of your lineup, and I think we have two of the best from central Maine,” said Low, whose team boasts a roster size of 10. “[Winning our first match] was a super boost for us. Golf is a tough game, and it can take a while to improve to where you can see results, so that was great to see.”

Elsewhere in the Class B fold, Erskine Academy and Maine Central Institute feature deep rosters of nine golfers apiece. The Eagles and Huskies must replace a pair of all-KVAC players in Austin Nicholas and Leah Deschaine, respectively.


Messalonskee, the reigning KVAC champion in Class A, returns two players who broke 90 in last year’s regional meet in Brady Bumford and Jacob Moody. Skowhegan brings in a roster of 12 golfers as it looks to replace Jaycie Christopher and Riley Fitzpatrick, two of the top girls players in the class.

In Class C, Kents Hill is back as the defending state champion. The Huskies have lost a few golfers to graduation but bring back their top player in Varsity Maine All-State selection Nico von Gaudecker, who took second in the Class C individual championships.

Maranacook, which took fourth in last season’s state championship meet, has a 14-player roster that’s lost very few players from last year’s run.

Erskine golfer golfer Jackson Pelotte chips onto a green during an Aug. 25 match against Cony at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

That roster includes the Black Bears’ top-four players from last year, Wyatt Folsom, James Marr, Ben Jewett and Brandon Chilton. All of those players are underclassmen, leaving Ryan Meserve’s team in a good position both for this season and next.

“It’s always nice when you’re able to bring back the core group of players from the year before,” said Meserve, whose team breezed to wins over Lawrence and Morse in the opener. “I’ve seen them on the golf course a lot this year, whether it was James on the range or Ben giving lessons or doing the same thing.”

Despite being the third-smallest school to offer golf in Maine, Rangeley, with an enrollment of just 60, returns three strong golfers in Trevor Dolbier (10th in Class C championships), Jake Bottcher and Isabelle Whittier. Monmouth, which went 11-2 and qualified for states a year ago, returns two of its top golfers in Kyle Clavet and Carter O’Connell.

After a tight battle for first in last year’s state championship meet, there is much anticipation for what 2020 holds in the field. The top-two squads from last year’s event, Meserve said, will be among the teams to beat once again this all.

“I’d imagine Kents Hill is going to be up there, and Waynflete is another one that’s always good in that class,” Meserve said. “You’re going to expect both of those teams to be there again.”

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