CRMS third in Maine State Middle School Golf InvitationalOceanside fourth, future bright for Midcoast youth golf
Auburn — It was pouring rain, but warm. At 5:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, radar looked horrible. At 7:30 a.m. it looked better at the Fox Ridge Golf Club. At 9:20 a.m., Kevin Cullen, host coach from St. Dominic of Lewiston pronounced it a go and the third annual Maine State Middle School Golf Invitational was on.
Fifteen Maine middle school teams, including three squads of young girls, from Bar Harbor to Cape Elizabeth, hits the road, GPSs humming as they traveled down the highways.
Sixty young golfers rode through the diminishing storm, anticipating the day and event to come.
Cullen, Nancy Storey, executive director of Maine State Golf Association, and Bob Darling, host pro at Fox Ridge, put on a show. At check-in, players received a "goodie bag" from the MSGA of a cap, rulebook, Pro V1 golf balls, tees, a greens repair tool and other items. Coach Cullen also organized the hosting moms to put together a pack of nutritious snacks for each young golfer.
The format was a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start for the 15 four-player scramble teams. All players teed off, while the captain of each team chose the best shot and determined the batting order, so to speak. Three golfers hit from that spot (not the player whose shot was selected) and then, once on the green, all golfers putted. Each golfer had to contribute two drives during the 18-hole event.
Fox Ridge is one of the top courses in New England. Undulating, up and down, blind shots, surprises around the corner and even an island green — all in wonderfully groomed shape for the event. And beautiful foliage on top.
The CRMS golfers said, "Gosh, coach, this is really professional."
Cape Elizabeth, new this year, coached by Scott Collins, got off to a hot start, going 2-under par after four holes. The team ended at 5-under 67 for the victory.
Greely's No. 1 team, coached by Brian Bickford, the pro at Val Halla Golf Club, had a steady round, ending at 3-under 69 to finish second.
Camden-Rockport started on the daunting fifth hole, the par-3 island green and managed to save par. The Schooners got to 3-under par, but slipped to 1-under 71, to finish third. The Schooners consisted of Conor O'Dwyer, James Orne, Cole Anderson and Austin Charkowick.
Oceanside, which won the 2011 state title at the Samoset Resort Golf Club in Rockport, shot a 3-over 75 to finish fourth. The Mariners consisted of Ryan Lawrence, Tucker Grindle, Nathan Hersom and Jackson Arnsdorf.
Mariner coach Kevin Martin said his team played well despite less than optimal conditions.
"I'm really proud of them," he said. "I really am. They played really well as a team. They thought things out, they encouraged one another, it was awesome."
The Mariners began on hole three and on the par-4 18th. Grindle hit a shot off the tee that hit the green — 10 feet from the hole.
"It was a dogleg to the left, so the safe play would be hit it straight down the fairway before the pond, and then hit your second shot to the green," said coach Martin. "Ryan put his ball safe [in the fairway] so I said, 'OK we've got three shots at this.' So I told them all to go over the trees. And I'll be a son of a gun, [Grindle] put it 10 feet from the pin."
Martin said all four golfers are eighth-graders, along with teammate Hunter Dinsmore, who did not play in the state tourney. All will have the opportunity to have an impact on the Oceanside High School team next season.
"I'm sending Keenan [Flanagan] five very solid golfers," said Martin. "I'm excited for the high school [program]. I'm really excited for Keenan. Because Keenan has a pretty good 1-2 position with Nick [Mazurek] and Reilly [Flanagan]. And I'm sending him five players that consistently shoot in the 40s as eighth-graders."
Other teams came from Winthrop, Bar Harbor Dirigo of Dixfield, St. Dominic, Northeast Harbor and Emerson.
Next year's event is planned for Val Halla in Cumberland, hosted by Brian Bickford, course pro and coach of Greely.
Kim Chatfield, Camden-Rockport Middle School coach, provided much of the information and flavor for this story.
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