Maranacook’s Wyatt Folsom hits a shot during the KVAC B/C Shootout last year at the Rockland Golf Club Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

For coaches and players of area high school golf teams, the immediate jump from the joy of summer vacation into the pressure of regular season golf isn’t just a feeling. It’s a reality.

Per the Maine Principals’ Association golf bulletin, the golf season as a whole is structured to be a blur. The first day of practice is Aug. 14. The state championships are scheduled for Oct. 6 and 7. The first day of the regular season is scheduled for Friday, which leaves teams a grand total of 11 days to prepare for the season.

“I have two matches before school even starts,” longtime Cony head coach Shawn Johnson said.

With a short time frame, what exactly does a golf preseason look like? For Gardiner head coach Ryan Low — who has two of the top area players returning in sophomore Jack Quinn and junior Austin Gould, while the remainder of the roster consists of new and inexperienced players — it’s a crash course of the game.

“For preseason, I’ve got two really experienced golfers who never really stopped (playing),” Low said. “They kept playing in tournaments throughout the state, both of them. This is just a continuation for them, both are members of the Augusta Country Club. The other half, I’m just trying to teach some of these newer student-athletes what there is to know about golf, what the appropriate etiquette is out there, things like that.”

Johnson is an envious situation. With a veteran-laden team, Johnson is already aware what he has for talent on his roster. He called multiple coaches in an attempt to schedule a couple preseason matches, but was turned down. The issue, Johnson said, wasn’t that coaches didn’t want to have matches, but were still trying to figure out what kind of talent they had for the season.


“(The preseason) is crazy, it really is,” Johnson said.

Maranacook head coach Ryan Meserve may have the best situation of any of the area teams. The defending Class C champions have virtually their entire starting roster back, meaning Meserve already knew what to expect for the season when the Black Bears first showed up for practice. That came in handy, as the team had little time in its first week to get ready for the season.

“The way it fell for us, we pretty much had three preseason practices,” Meserve said. “Our course was closed on Thursday for a big tournament. The way a lot of (courses) have it is, Fridays are hard to come by because courses are busy. We have a pretty truncated preseason. We (had) our first preseason match Monday, and then the first regular season match on Wednesday. We’re going to basically have five practice rounds in before our first match.”

Jack Quinn waves his hand while willing his putt close to the hole at the No. 12 green during the Maine Amateur golf championship July 12 at the Samoset Resort Golf Course in Rockport. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Meserve said the biggest piece of advice he gave to his players in the spring, was to play in the summer to get ready for the season.

“The big thing for me was, in the spring time at the end of last year, and then over the summertime, talking with some of the players, (the advice) was just (reminding them) to get ready to move into (the season),” Meserve said. “And then we just moved into rounds of competitive play as soon as possible for the first practices that we had, put them up in pairings to simulate what matches would be like. Try to really get into the mindset of getting ready for the season to start.”

Not only are the Black Bears experienced, but they know each other so well, the players can police each other when it comes to swing tips or course strategy.


“We’re super lucky that we change the (playing) groups every day in practice, so we know where everyone is at, what their strengths are, weaknesses, whatever they may be,” said Maranacook senior Wyatt Folsom. “It’s really helpful that we have guys who have been on the same team the past couple of years here.”

“(Folsom) has been really helping me out a lot,” said Maranacook senior Brandon Chilton. “If the swing isn’t good enough for me, personally, he’ll just give me some tips on what to do. … Everyone has their own way of teaching somebody, and it’s nice to hear all those different perspectives.”

Golf teams usually involve one coach, perhaps with an assistant. At Gardiner, as Low teaches the game to new players, which will include multiple players jumping back and forth between soccer and golf, he also leans on his top players — Quinn and Gould — to lend a hand as well.

“Just help teach them course management, teach them some rules,” Gould said. “Teach them what not to do, next time, if you make a bad shot or a bad swing. Just focus on the controllables in the game.”

Maranacook’s Brandon Chilton hits during a golf match last year at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“I think this season is (all about) getting them ready for next season,” Quinn said. “They’re definitely going to be better for next year. If they’re already shooting 50s now, they can shoot 40s next year. If we can get them ready for next year, we should have a pretty solid team. We need to get them to quit soccer.”

Johnson said there’s several reasons for a quick golf season, from potential weather issues in October, to the potential of golf courses shutting down for the season.

“That’s something that we’ll have to talk about with the (MPA Golf Committee), if it can even happen,” Johnson said. “When we get to October, it’s pretty ugly. It can be real cold, it can be snowing. And probably for a lot of courses, it’s tough for them. I can speak for Natanis, and I’m wondering if this is the same (for others), but this is the busy season for them. For us, for example, they don’t really want us on the course on a Friday, because it’s a real, real busy day (for business).”

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