Mick Madden, a rising sophomore at Cheverus High, lines up his putt on the first green during the second round of the Maine Amateur Wednesday at the Samoset Resort Golf Course in Rockport. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

ROCKPORT — It wasn’t long ago Eli Spaulding teed off at the Maine Amateur Championship with no illusions of success. He was 14 in 2020 when he played the tournament for the first time at Biddeford-Saco Country Club, and Spaulding was just thrilled at the chance to play in such a competitive field of golfers.

Now 17 and a grizzled veteran of tournament play, Spaulding isn’t just happy to be on the course for the Maine Am at Samoset Resort Golf Course. With every swing in every tournament, his confidence level goes up.

“Thinking back to my first Maine Am, my goal was the make the cut, I guess. Now that I’ve played in so many more three-day events, the goal is to be at the top of the leaderboard and contend to win. I think that comes from experience and getting used to being under pressure and playing well and making birdies under pressure,” said Spaulding, a rising senior at Freeport High, after shooting 1-under par 70 in Wednesday’s second round to get to 1 over after two days, tying him for seventh.

As good as Spaulding is at a young age, he’s not alone. This week’s Maine Amateur field is full of talented high school golfers who, while not quite ready to challenge for the championship, aren’t far from contending.

Mick Madden, 15, will be a sophomore at Cheverus this fall and was making his Maine Am debut. Madden shot a 3-under 68 on Wednesday after shooting a 6-over 77 in Tuesday’s opening round to make the cut and be tied for 13th. The top 40 and ties advance to the final day of the tournament.

“For me, I didn’t play great (Tuesday), 77 is very poor for me. But I had 68 (Wednesday) and bounced back. I played much better today. Wedges were just phenomenal,” Madden said.


Other high school players in the field included Gardiner’s Jack Quinn, Lincoln Academy’s Kellen Adickes, Will Farschon of Brunswick, Nokomis’ SJ Welch and Joe Hansen of Greely. Spaulding, Madden and Quinn plan to play in the New England Amateur tournament next week at The Woodlands in Falmouth.

Jack Quinn waves his hand while trying to will his putt close to the hole at the No. 12 green at the Maine Amateur  Wednesday at Samoset Resort Golf Course in Rockport. Quinn will be a sophomore this fall at Gardiner Area High. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The age of players in tournaments is getting younger, said Brian Bickford, the executive director of Maine Golf. At the Maine Event last month, a tournament that features amateurs and professionals, there were 46 players under 30, Bickford said.

“There’s a nice corps of kids who started at a very young age,” Bickford said. “The young guys are competing both in state and out of state, and I think that’s making them a little more experienced than what used to be the high school experience in the past.”

There’s also the Caleb Manuel-Cole Anderson factor. Two of the best golfers to come out of Maine, Manuel, now playing collegiately at the University of Georgia, and Anderson, now at Florida State, set the example. Both have won the Maine Am twice. Anderson in 2019 and 2020, and Manuel in each of the last two years. While Anderson was unable to compete in the tournament this year at his home course Samoset, Manuel enters the final round with a two-stroke lead as he goes for a third straight title.

Eli Spaulding, from Brunswick Golf Club, plays during the first round of the Maine Amateur golf championship Tuesday at the Samoset Resort Golf Club in Rockport. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The young players see the way Manuel and Anderson work on their game, hitting buckets of balls or chipping and putting for an hour after a round, and they emulate that, Bickford said.

“I’m really good friends with Caleb, and we practice together all the time,” said Spaulding, who, like Manuel, is a member at Brunswick Golf Course. “The way he plays, I follow that and I’ve learned how to really play under pressure through him, and it’s been super helpful.”


The young players emulate each other, too. Madden said he admires Spaulding, who has won two Class B individual titles, along with Manuel and Anderson.

“I look up to him, and want to do better than him too, of course,” Madden said.

Fighting injuries to his left ribs and hip, Quinn admittedly didn’t play his best golf this week, shooting 75 in round one and 76 in round two to sit at 9 over. When he talks about his goals, Quinn mentions one of his peers.

“Next year I want to be just as good if not better than Eli was this year,” Quinn said. “I know I can do it, it’s about the time and the effort.”

Comments are no longer available on this story