HARTFORD — Harry Haylock made the mistake of telling friends and fellow members at Turner Highlands Golf Course about his summer aspiration while it was still in the daydream stage.

The 42-year-old teacher and coach at Leavitt Area High School was determined to qualify for the Maine Amateur.

“I’ve been playing well, so I said, ‘What the heck?’ I like the challenging courses. Let’s give it a shot,” Haylock said. “I got a lot of people who said, ‘Yeah, right’ when I told them what I was doing. I went in telling myself it was just for fun. It was one round, and maybe if everything went well …”

Midway through the back nine of his June qualifying round at Martindale Country Club in Auburn, Haylock might have been willing to concede one to the naysayers.

His short game, usually a strength, betrayed him. Haylock had to scribble down a 5 after dropping his drive to within 15 feet of the par-3 11th hole. It was one of three four-putts and two three-putts that put his mind into playing-out-the-string mode.

Near the 17th tee, Haylock had a chance conversation with MSGA official Randy Hodsdon. It changed his day, and perhaps his whole summer.

“He said, ‘Hang in there. The scores are pretty high.’ Then I parred 17, so then I got to 18 knowing if I shot 81 or 82 I would have a chance,” Haylock said.

The final hole was a 440-yard par-5 with make-or-break potential. Haylock struck his drive down the middle and hit a picture-perfect iron, leaving himself a wedge into the green.

That shot coasted to a stop two feet from the cup. Haylock tapped in for a closing birdie and an 81.

“At that point all I could think was, ‘I got in! I can’t believe I got in!’ Then I waited around and sure enough, 81 was the number,” Haylock said. “I had never tried, never qualified. I’m 1-for-1.”

The 95th Maine Amateur is set for The Woodlands Club in Falmouth. Haylock will tee off at 2:10 p.m. Tuesday and 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Cut for Thursday’s final round will be the low 40 players and ties — likely less than one-third of the field. While Haylock knows he was fortunate to sneak in through one of the three qualifiers, he’s taking the same “who knows?” approach into the main event.

“This is probably the best and strongest I’ve ever felt,” Haylock said. “I know if the ball’s going left or right. It’s been a good start to the summer.”

Haylock is a native of St. Croix, Virgin Islands. After graduating from Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, Mass., he chose to settle in rural Maine with wife Heidi.

It’s where he gravitated to the frustrating but rewarding game that has become one of his family’s consuming passions.

“I only started golfing a couple years before I started coaching, It was probably in 1997, 1998,” Haylock said. “I got into a good situation at Leavitt. They needed a JV coach when I was getting hired, and then shortly after that the varsity guy stepped down and they needed a replacement.”

Heidi has been an annual threat in the Maine Women’s Amateur and played this past week at the New England Women’s Amateur in Keene, N.H.

The couple’s two daughters — Ruby, 9, and Jade, 7 — also are making strides in the sport. Ruby recently defended her state title in the PGA Drive, Chip & Putt competition for youth. Both sisters will represent Maine in their age group at the New England showcase in August.

“They don’t like to practice so much, but they like to compete and they like to win,” Haylock said.

Haylock toured The Woodlands during one of Ruby’s junior tournaments. He also played nine practice holes on the layout this past Wednesday.

“I know what to expect. It’s a tough course. There are bunkers all over the place,” he said. “It’s a challenge. I’ll be hoping to shoot in the mid-80s, maybe better. Most players in the field are more skilled and experienced than I am, but maybe by some miracle I’ll be teeing it up on the final day.”

No matter what happens, Haylock is part of a select group.

The field is dominated by Cumberland and York county players. Locals in the field include Will Kannegieser, Andrew Slattery, Mark Ballard, Mark Stasium, Bill Brewster, Tim Millett, Brian Bilodeau and Kevin Shrader of Martindale; Craig Chapman, Chris Cloutier, Gary Caiani, Bob Langlois and Matt Ouellette of Fox Ridge; Larry Ross of Poland Spring; Mac Kim, Joe Baker and Mike Brennan of Norway; Don Flanagan, Bob Kent, Trent Murphy and Truman Libby of Springbrook; and Travis Brooks of Bethel Inn and Country Club.

“I had seen some of my buddies try it and miss out by one, or two, or five, or 10,” Haylock said. “Not many Turner guys if any have made it in recent years that I can remember.”


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