MSGA hopes Maine Girls' Championship keeps growing

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Stephanie Rodrigue of Lewiston hands her club to her caddy during the Maine Women’s Amateur Golf Championship at Martindale Country Club in Auburn this summer. She’s defending her MSGA Girls’ Championship Sunday at Natanis. 

LEEDS — Some of the state’s top girl golfers will be teeing it up Sunday at Natanis Golf Club’s Arrowhead course in Vassalboro for the second annual Maine Girls’ Championship.

The event, for girls 19 and younger, is being run by the Maine State Golf Association. The goal is to bring together players who play golf in the summer and those who play only during the high school season.

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“It’s another way to get girls involved in the state,” MSGA Junior Director Alex Viola said. “So we have our junior championships through the MSGA and the (MPA) high school championships. This one will be separate from all of that because there’s girls who play high school golf and there’s girls who play a lot of summer golf. We wanted to tie in both of those all together and create a girls’ championship in the fall.”

It will give the girls a chance to play Arrowhead prior to the individual high school championships, which will take place Saturday, Oct. 14.

Lewiston’s Stephanie Rodrigue won the inaugural Maine Girls’ Championship last year, shooting a 76.

She will defend her title against 11 other competitors. Other locals competing include Turner’s Mia Hornberger, Hartford’s Ruby and Jade Haylock and Monmouth’s Abby Flanagan.

Flanagan, who’s a freshman at Monmouth Academy, is one who doesn’t play on the MSGA Junior Tour in the summer because of other commitments.

“I haven’t competed in them this summer,” Flanagan said. “I play other summer sports and so it doesn’t really fall into my schedule.”

She is excited to compete with some of the state’s best girls golfers and prepare for the individual girls’ championship next month.

“It will be good. (I) will be able to see who my competition is and how I will have to step up my game,” Flanagan said.

Her coach, Lonney Steeves, who also coaches the Winthrop golf team said she has a lot of potential and can hit the ball well off the tee.

Steeves, who is also the director of the sport for the MVC conference, likes what the MSGA is trying to do with the Maine Girls’ Championship, but he only first heard about the tournament when Flanagan’s mother mentioned it to him.

“It’s kind of too bad it wasn’t better publicized,” Steeves said. “I said something to Val Doucette, who plays for Lisbon and (practices) with St. Dom’s, the other night at the football game and said, ‘Have you heard about it?’ She goes, ‘No, I haven’t heard anything about it.’ I said I don’t know how to get you in touch or who to get in touch with.”

Viola said the MSGA reached out to 50 girls and only heard back from the 12 that will be competing. He did say the MSGA will reach out to high school coaches in the future to get more participants.

“It’s a great way to have girls get competitive golf the same season they are playing high school golf,” Viola said. “It’s hard to get as many players as we would like. We would hope to have maybe triple of what we have for actual numbers. We are happy to have the 12 girls that joined and hopefully they really enjoy it.”

Steeves said the MVC conference this season has a number of of girls not only competing but doing well, including Flanagan, Carrabec’s Dixon, and Haley Turcotte and Hailey Perkins of Spruce Mountain, to name a few.

“Hopefully, if it’s something that they will be doing in the future, it will be great to promote because Maine has a lot of outstanding young female golfers out there,” Steeves said. “I mean, the last few years, the girls championship at the individual day has been one of the best competitions.”

He’s also wished the MSGA would collaborate with high school leagues and coaches because the event falls on the same weekend as the MVC Invitational, an 18-hole stroke play event held Saturday at Lakewood. The MVC Invitational is a new tournament this year aimed to help players prepare for the state qualifiers and state championships.

Steeves and the MSGA are on the same page as far as wanting to promote the game of golf.

“Anytime we put the best players out there in a format that promotes it, I think it’s great for the kids,” Steeves said.

nfournier@sunjournal.com

Ruby Haylock tees off on the 15th hole during the 2nd round of Maine Women’s Amateur Golf Championship at Martindale Country Club in Auburn earlier this year. She will be competing at the Maine Girls’ Championship at Natanis on Sunday.

Jordan Laplume tees off on the 17th hole during the Maine Women’s Amateur Golf Championship at Martindale Country Club in Auburn this summer. She will be competing in Sunday’s Maine Girls’ Championship up at Natanis.

Stephanie Rodrigue of Lewiston won the inaugural Junior Golf of Maine Girls Championship in 2016.

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