Par for the Course: MSGA working to pick up the pace of play

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For all of the slow-play golfers in Maine, there is a new sheriff in town.

Nancy Story, executive director of the Maine State Golf Association, says that this year the pace of play at many membership courses is being monitored, and in championship tournaments, there is an emphasis on players moving along.

“There needs to be a conscious effort by players to make this work,” Storey said during the New England Women’s Golf Association championship tournament at The Woodlands this past week.

At that tournament, Storey was the person to implement this policy, handed to the MSGA by the U.S. Golf Association.

During Day 1 of the New England Tournament, groups were warned about slow play. If repeated in Day 2 and 3, they would receive a two-stroke penalty at the conclusion of their round.

OK, but what about everyday players who are slow? Clubs must participate in this and require players to post on their scorecards the time they teed off, along with the time they finished the front nine and all 18 holes. If this happens, the club can send the players a letter of warning, Repeated slow play can result in players’ tee times being pushed to afternoons, when there is not nearly as much traffic on many courses.

If a group (single, double, triple or foursome) finishes 20 or more minutes behind the group in front of them, a warning can be issued.

Why is this rule being implemented? Too many people are giving up the game of golf because it is too slow and too expensive.

“This is a reason why we promote ‘Play nine,'” Storey said, pointing out that a faster pace of play also can enable people to get in nine holes after work, which is a time of day when greens fees are reduced.

“If everyone is aware of pace of play,” Storey said, “golf can be much more fun. This just needs to be enforced.”

The ultimate goal for the MSGA is to eliminate five-hour, 10-minute rounds and level off that time at 4:10. More work needs to be done, but Storey and the MSGA think that the slow play plan and approach is working in 2018.

The secret to avoiding personal implementation of this rule is not to join the “20-minute club.” If you and your group falls behind the group in front of you by more than 20 minutes, you are subject to receiving a warning. It is as simple as that.

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In the MSGA’s Maine Amateur Championship held at Belgrade Lakes last week, only five area golfers made the cut after two rounds. That means that only Joe Baker, Andrew Slattery, Brian Bilodeau and Craig Chapman, all of Martindale, plus Cameron Marquis of Fox Ridge, have earned exemptions to play in the 2019 Maine Amateur.

Slattery, sixth, Baker, seventh, and Chapman, ninth, finished in the top 10, while Bilodeau and Marquis were tied for 35th place.

The tournament was won by lefthander Jack Wyman of Portland for the second consecutive year. He defeated Cole Anderson of Samoset by a stroke.

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At the New England Women’s Golf Association championship July 9-11, Shannon Johnson of Massachusetts was the only sub-par shooter, posting a 2-under 72-68-74—214 to win by five strokes. Massachusetts players took the first eight places.

Bailey Plourde of Samoset had the best Maine player score, with a 244, while Erin Holmes of Val Halla had 254. This was a testament to how tough The Woodlands can play.

The only Mainer ever to win this event was Abby Spector, who is the pro at Riverside. She captured the title in 2001, after winning this association’s junior championship in 1999.

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In an absolutely loaded schedule for the week, the MSGA Parent-Child Championship is today at Natanis Arrowhead. Point Sebago will be host to a Senior Tour event July 16, with the Val Halla Junior Day and a Jato Highlands Junior Tournament on June 17. The MSGA and New England PGA will combine to run Junior Tour events July 18 at Riverside and July 19 at Clinton. Plus the New England Amateur will be July 17-19 at Portland, and the Weekend Tour on July 20-21 at Riverside.

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