AUBURN — Mark Stasium has played in the Maine Amateur.

This one, though, might be a bit more special on two fronts: He didn’t have to worry about qualifying, and he’s at his home away from home.

“This was the first time I’ve ever been exempt from qualifying, and that’s nice, not to have to worry about that,” Stasium said.

Stasium has played in four previous Maine Amateur tournaments — at Augusta Country Club in 2001, Penobscot Valley in 2003, Sanford in 2004 and Waterville in 2007.

But he’s never made the cut.

“I’ve managed to go to just about every other,” Stasium said, “but this year, the goal is to make the cut and take it from there.”

Part of the draw, Stasium said, is being on his home course. He earned his way into the tournament this year by winning the Martindale club championship last summer. The host club’s champion earns an automatic exemption from qualifying.

“Anytime you can play a match on your home course, you want to try and play your best,” Stasium said.

He’s not the only one thinking that way at Martindale this year.

In 2008, five golfers in the Maine Amateur field listed Martindale as their home course, and a few others had played the course regularly at some point in their lifetime.

This year, that number has nearly doubled.

“You definitely saw more people from the club go out and try to make it this year,” Stasium said. “There were a couple of us exempt, but I know at least a dozen went out and tried to qualify on top of that.”

Leading that group is veteran Martindale golfer Dale Brown, who always finds himself in the mix at local and regional club tournaments. Brown fired a 79 at a tough Brunswick Country Club qualifier in rough weather to earn his spot.

“It is a bit special this year, because, unless I make the cut, this will probably be my last one,” Brown said. “I figured the number that day at Brunswick would be about 82 because of the conditions, and that’s what it ended up being.”

Brown, who will turn 71 in a couple of weeks, has a few rounds of 71 under his belt this year, but hasn’t yet shot his current age of 70.

“I’d like to be able to to have a couple of those this week,” Brown said.

Also earning their way into the field at Brunswick were Peter Ashton (79), Tim Millett (81) and low qualifier Curt Jordan (74).

At the qualifier at Biddeford-Saco, host of last year’s tournament, three more Martindale members — Dan Hargreaves (75), Brandon Poulin (77) and Michael Morrone (79) — made it into the field, joining Stasium and Brian Bilodeau, who also earned an exemption based on last year’s results.

“This has been a goal of mine,” Poulin said.

Poulin works in the shop at Martindale. He played in the tournament in 2005 at Boothbay and in 2007 at Waterville, but had knee surgery last year.

“I wanted to get back and play competitive golf after surgery last year right here,” Poulin said. “It’s nice to know the golf course. It’s almost like home-field advantage.”

Poulin said knowledge of where to hit the ball — and where to miss — will be key for the local golfers.

“I know I’ve only been here a short time,” Poulin said, “but being in the shop every day, I get to pick the brains of some of the members who’ve been here for 30 years about the subtleties of the greens, which way things break.”

The tournament has been one of the hot topics at the club this season.

“It seemed like there were more (people trying to qualify) than usual,” Stasium said. “Out on the course, too, whoever I end up playing with will ask about it, about the tournament, about how I think they’ll set the course up, how I think people will play here. People are definitely talking about it. People are fired up about it.”

But talking about it, Stasium admitted, is just the beginning. These 10 Martindale players — and the rest of the field — still need to navigate the course, which will likely be set up about as tough as it ever has been.

“That rough’s still pretty long,” Stasium said. “All that rain’s made it tough. But I think it’s going to help us having a bit of local knowledge. I’m hoping a few of us, at least four or five of us anyway, can keep playing through to Thursday and make the club proud.”

“The golfer who can putt the best on those back-nine greens will have the best chance to win,” Brown said. “There are five or six guys going in who are the favorites, for sure, but we could have a small group make the cut.”

The top three finishers from last year’s Maine Amateur will tee off first Tuesday morning as defending champion Ryan Gay, 13-time champion Mark Plummer and two-time champ Ricky Jones are slated to go out at 7 a.m.


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.