The Exotics Pro-Am Tour began its second season this past Wednesday at the Bath Golf Club in Bath, where Rich Berberian of the Windham Country Club in New Hampshire took top honors by shooting a 7-under-par 63, which was three shots better than Ryan Gay of Augusta and Jeff Seavy of Samoset. Sean Warren of Falmouth, who dominated the 2013 Exotics Tour, was deadlocked for fourth with a 3-under 67, accompanied by Jerry Diphiippo of Portland.

Johnny Johnston of Harris Golf, who runs the tour and plays in it, said this year’s competition will be greater than 2013 for two reasons: The tour has gained popularity since its inception last spring, and the prize money has increased.

For instance, Berberian won $3,000 for low gross and another $300 for being in the low gross foursome. Last year’s first-place money was $2,000. And Berberian made Exotics Tour history with one of his foursome teammates, Vincent Ruggerio, 12, who became the first-ever junior to play in an Exotics Tour event.

Gay and Seavy made $700 apiece tying for the runner-up position, plus Seavy’s team won him an extra $100. With team money, Warren made $833.30, while Diphilippo took home $550.

There was a seven-way tie for sixth place, all players shooting 69 . Leon Oliver came out of that the best because of his team, earning $499.99. Dirk Ayers of Falmouth and Mike Dugas of J.W. Parks won $216.66 each. Will Bucklin of Falmouth, Tim Desmarias of Purpoodock, Evan Griffith of Lighthouse Golf and Dan Wilkins of Laconia, (N.H.) won $56.25 each.

The tour, which has increased from five to six events, resumes June 19 at Penobscot Valley. On July 17, it will be at Old Marsh; Aug. 26 at Sunday River; and Sept. 23 at Falmouth. The season-ending event will be Oct. 1 at Old Marsh, where the winner will take home $15,000.

“Wednesday, we had twice as many players as we did a year ago for the season opener,” Johnston said. “And we had seven players drop out.”

Clearly word is getting out that this unique tournament format in Maine is catching the attention of professionals throughout New England — especially with the winning purse having increased.

MSGA, First Tee powerful combo

It is a powerful combination — the Maine State Golf Association and the Maine Chapter of the PGA and First Tee of Maine. So expect good things to happen for junior and newcomer golf in the Pine Tree State, starting with, Sunday, June 1.

That is Maine State Family Golf Day, noon to 5 p.m., at 14 participating golf courses where there will be an introductory golf experience for Maine families. The programs at each course will vary, but the activities will include a five-minute golf lesson, putting and chipping contests, SNAG (starting new at golf), a golf treasure hunt, a drawing for golf “stuff,” and a three-hole challenge.

Fox Ridge, Poland Spring, Springbrook, The Woodlands, Waterville, Traditions, J.W. Parks, Natanis, Sanford, The Ledges, Dunegrass, Nonesuch River, and Toddy Brook are involved. A typical example of what will take place at these courses is what Fox Ridge has scheduled — 10-minute lessons with pro Bob Darling, a putting contest, a SNAG course contest, a 3-hole challenge, a golf treasure hunt and a drawing for the golf “stuff.”

“We are introducing the game to families,” said Ron Bibeau, executive director of First Tee of Maine. “A lot of newcomers don’t know what to do when they are in golf for the first time. Experienced players take all of this for granted, but newcomers are uncomfortable. This day is designed to get families to see what to do.”

The “family day” is just one of many programs these three organizations are promoting in unison to get more people to play golf.

On June 22 there will be a Girls Golf Fair 1-4 p.m. which will be free for girls of all ages. Register online at www.firstteemaine.org or by telephoning 207-809-9030.

For instance, there is the Junior Golf Coalition which is being overseen by Val Halla pro Brian Bickford. The State of Maine has been broken down into regions, each of which have a schedule of activities.

There is a PGA Junior League, created in 2012 and operated with a full schedule last year. Three-man teams compete for flags in that league — winners of the front nine, back nine and overall 18 earning flags which makes it a “flag Nassau.”

Bibeau also talked about the “shoulder seasons,” which in Maine can be a short but productive golf time of year.

“Our peak season is June 20 to Aug. 20,” he said of the summer during which school is in recess. The shoulder seasons are the time when the weather is good enough to play golf, but school is in session. That is late spring and early fall.

“We are working on programs to get kids playing and competing at that time of year,” Bibeau said.

If these sound like lofty goals for First Tee of Maine, consider this. In 2013 the Maine chapter touched more than 18,000 junior golfers. Not that all 18,000 will become golfers as adults, but 18,000 kids were exposed to the sport. That is an impressive number, especially when Bibeau predicts that number will grow in 2014.

Weekly tournies begin; Richardson Tourney on tap

The Maine State Golf Association has begun its weekly tournament schedule. This week there is a senior event Wednesday at Natanis Tomahawk. On Friday and Saturday at Fairlawn, the annual Davis Richardson Memorial Tournament will be conducted. Richardson was the MSGA tournament director for many years and is a revered figure in Maine golf circles. He was a longtime member at Fairlawn … The MSGA has announced its 2014 scholarship recipients, 11 outstanding young people, who will be the recipients of $1,500 each for the 2014-15 academic year. With their hometowns and schools, the recipients are: Kyle Alexander of Brewer (Phillips Exeter), Connor Arsenault of York (York), Casey Bancroft of Chelsea (Cony), Ashley Chubbuck of Windsor (Erskine), Jackson Cogger of Cape Neddick (York), Trevor Kitchin of Detroit (MCI), Carter LaPointe of Mapleton (Presque Isle), Erik Larrabee of Jackson (Mount View), Cameron Small of Sanford (Sanford), Andrew Stanley of Porter (Sacopee Valley) and Chase Wittemore of Skowhegan (Skowhegan).


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