Martindale members, left to right, Joe Baker, Jace Pearson, Craig Chapman and Andrew Slattery won the MSGA Club Team Championship at Belgrade Lakes in May. (Submitted Photo)
Just like Pebble Beach will do in 2019 by holding two tournaments — the regular PGA Tour stop in February and the US Open in June — Belgrade Lakes will host its second Maine State Golf Association tournament of 2018 when it holds the 99th Maine Amateur Championship from Tuesday through Thursday.
The first tournament was the MSGA Club Team Championship on May 20, just like the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February is a yearly event.
Joe Baker, Jace Pearson, Craig Chapman and Andrew Slattery of Martindale Country Club hope to replicate the team success into individual success. The foursome captured the Club Team Championship with a winning score of 11-under, defeating the team from J.W. Parks Golf Course by two strokes.
“It’s a great warm-up (event),” Pearson said. “The team from Martindale has won there two of the past three years. A few of us have been on that team a couple of times.”
Chapman was the lone player of the foursome not on the 2016 championship team, while Slattery wasn’t on the 2014 team that won the tournament. Belgrade Lakes has hosted the Club Team Championships since 2007.
This is the first time the course has hosted the Maine Amateur.
The Club Team Championship is played under a different format than the Maine Amateur, with the Club Team Championship a best two-of-four ball event as opposed to the more traditional stroke play that the Maine Amateur features.
Despite the different format, the foursome put some extra emphasis on the Club Team Championship this year knowing Belgrade was going to host one of the MSGA’s crown jewel events later in the season.
“I think we all did, kind of back of our heads,” Pearson said. “I think we all looked at it as we played there and been fortunate to play there over the years, but it’s always a great idea to go back up there to refamiliarize yourself with the golf course and the layout.”
The players were able to try different types of shots at the Club Team Championship than they would in an individual event. Even though they were able to play more aggressively than they would normally, the course was under conditions they will see this week.
“The more times you play it, the more comfortable you are going to get,” Chapman said. “It was played under a tournament setting, where the greens were a little quicker. I think that will definitely help at the Maine Am.”
Chapman said the course fits his eye and the results back that up, with a 3-under 68 in May to help Martindale secure the victory.
To win this week, a score in the 60s in one of the three rounds will be needed for any contender.
“I think if you are hitting well and you are confident off the tee, shooting a good number is quite possible,” Chapman said. “If you are struggling a bit or your confidence isn’t quite there a score in the 80s can happen — hopefully not. You are going to see people shoot under par and in the 90s. It’s that type of golf course.”
The MSGA said the course will be playing around 6,600 yards. The course rewards straight shots from the tee with some generous fairways.
Baker played a practice round on Sunday in preparation of the tournament.
“The course is in great shape too, and it’s really a good venue to go to,” Baker said. “There’s nothing too tricky about the course other than stay below the hole and don’t miss long, you got to miss short. If you miss long, you are going to be in trouble. The rough around the greens is pretty long right now. Greens in regulations is going to be key.”
He also said the conditions are practically the same since May. The course and especially the greens are soft right now because the grounds crew has been watering the course due to the heat wave that came through this past week.
Joe Baker tees off at the 17th hole on the first day of the 2017 Maine Amateur Championships at Brunswick Golf Club. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal File Photo)