Par for the Course: MSGA merger the highlight of the 2018 Maine golf season

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“Par For The Course” today is completing its sixth season of publication in the Sun Journal.

That being the case, it is appropriate to evaluate the 2018 Maine golf season.

This has been a landmark year for the Maine State Golf Association, which formally and officially merged Jan. 1 with the Women’s Maine State Golf Association and the Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association. That means Maine golf is governed under one roof from its Cumberland offices in the Val Halla Golf Course building.

During the course of the 2018 season, this writer has asked numerous golfers for their thoughts on the merger. Not a single person has registered an objection to the fact that there is just one association calling the Maine golf shots, no pun intended. If there are dissenters, they have not spoken in my presence.

Did the new system work perfectly? Probably not, because life rarely is perfect. The merger was an idea whose time had come. So congratulations to the MSGA for implementing it. And to the officials of the women’s associations and their members for accepting it.

The “year of the merger” is the No. 1 highlight of 2018. There also are a few individual highlights that need to be noted.

Jack Wyman of Portland won his second consecutive Maine Amateur title. That puts him on a select list of players who have won successive Maine Amateur crowns. Ryan Gay did it most recently in 2010 and 2011, but Ricky Jones and Mark Plummer are the most decorated modern era Maine Am champs. Going back in history that list includes Sean Gorgone, Ralph Noel Jr., Dick Diversi, John S. Boyd, Isaac L. Merrill, Charles “Pop” Erswell and Karl E. Mosser.

Surprisingly, the Maine Amateur champions list, which dates back to 1900, does not include successive titles for Dr. Ray Lebel, widely considered to be one of the Pine Tree State’s greatest all-time amateur golfers. He did win four Maine Amateurs — 1942, 1958, 1961 and 1965.

Also on the highlight list is the fact that two Mainers qualified for the 2018 U.S. Amateur. Will Kannegieser of Martindale was first, having made it on his own course at Williams College, where he is a junior. He was working there most of this summer. Wyman was the other qualifier, making it in Maine.

Neither of them reached the round of 64, where the tournament converts to match play, at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill in Northern California in August. Kannegieser shot 78-85—163 and Wyman 82-82—164, to leave them well off the cut list. Just qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, however, represents a season highlight.

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The New England Senior Amateur was held at the Burlington (Vermont) Country Club on Sept. 18-19,and four Maine players were in the field.

Len Cole of Falmouth (74-77—151) finished tied for 20th. Tom Bean of Biddeford-Saco (79-83—162) tied for 70th. Cash Wiseman of Falmouth (87-81—168) tied for 108th, and Zibby Puleio of Old Marsh (91-87—178) was 118th.

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In the Maine Collegiate Golf Tournament on  Sept. 15-16 at Bangor Municipal, Gavin Dugas of Husson University won the men’s individual crown (71-67—138), and his 4-under-par score was the only under-par total in the tournament. Caroline Farber of Bowdoin (78-73—150) won the women’s title.

Husson Gold (Husson entered two teams) won the men’s title with a score of 574, while Bowdoin took the women’s division with 693. The Bates’ men finished fourth (609), and the Bobcats’ women were third (762).

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Maine finished in third place Sept. 15-16 in the annual Tri-State Championship held at the Brattleboro (Vermont) Country Club. New Hampshire accumulated 29 points to win the title, while Vermont was second with 22, and Maine managed only 12.

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The MSGA’s Mid-Amateur championship concludes Sunday at Sunday River. A Women’s Best Two Balls of Four will be Sept. 24-25 at Belgrade Lakes, and a regular women’s event will be Sept. 25 at Sable Oaks. Cape Neddick will be the site of a Senior Tour event Sept. 26, while Northeast Harbor (Sept. 28) and Kebo Valley (Sept. 29) will host weekend events. U.S. Kids will be Sept. 29 at Val Halla.

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