Golfers around Maine are mourning the loss of one of their more prominent members this weekend.

And one of their best friends.

Jim Veno, a legendary Maine golfer who brought a hint of nostalgia back at last year’s Maine Amateur by holding a share of the first-round lead, died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack at Maine Medical Center in Portland. He was 64.

“We played together the first two rounds last year at the Amateur,” 13-time Maine Amateur champion Mark Plummer of Manchester. “He shot 71 that day, and he easily could have been at 68, 67.”

“He was one of the good guys,” Maine State Golf Association Executive Director Nancy DeFrancesco said. “He was what made it all worth while.”

Veno was a two-time Maine Amateur champion. He was one of just four golfers to have won both the Maine Open and Maine Amateur titles, and he is still the only golfer ever to win the Maine schoolboy, Maine Amateur and Maine Open titles in the same year, in 1962.

“He was the guy,” Plummer said. “Growing up for me, it was him, Dr. Ray Lebel, and Dick Diversi.”

Veno won the schoolboy title five times, including once as an eighth-grader, and won the Maine Amateur and Maine Open twice each.

“I remember, he won them both the year I was born,” DeFrancesco said. “That’s why it’s so easy to remember that for me. He was a pioneer, but it’s more than that. He was about the game.”

Among the many tricks in his bag was a booming drive that sailed more than 300 yards, even before metal drivers.

But, he also had a short-game.

“He’d be the kind of golfer who would go out and triple-bogey the first hole and still come in at one-under,” DeFrancesco said.

Veno, originally from Orono, had been living in Old Orchard Beach.

He is the second prominent member of the Maine golfing community to die within the week. Val Halla Golf Club founder Bob Darling Sr., father of Fox Ridge pro Bob Darling Jr., died Tuesday. He was 73.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.