Oxford Hills coach Mike Grace can give you a dozen reasons why his golf team is suffering a shortage of personnel, but none of those explanations will make a difference this season.

The longtime coach has learned to make do instead of complaining about a depth problem that also haunted the Vikings last season. Grace knows he is not alone when it comes to coaching a golf team with low turnout. Mt. Blue is in the same predicament.

“We have only five players this season. They were all on the team last year,” Grace said. “We have three of the best players in the KVAC and two sophomores who improve every time out. In order to give the two youngest players the best chance to win a match, I have decided to forfeit the fourth match and play them in the five and six spots. We need to win the four ball to win the match, and so far we have been able to do that thanks to the strong play of our top three.”

When Grace does speak of dwindling numbers and a program that is hard pressed to add depth so that the team can breath easier, he is quite specific.

“Numbers are down because the young kids that play do other fall sports such as soccer or football and need to decide between them,” Grace explained. “They often have played those other sports faithfully for years so continue on. Also a lot of marginal players do not come out because they don’t feel like they’re good enough.”

But Grace is looking at new ways to get athletes interested in golf, and that means taking a good look at younger players and encouraging them to learn the the game.


“Dave Mazzeo, the course pro at Norway Country Club, has spent a lot of time with my players to help improve the program,” Grace said. “We have talked about ways to get younger players started. We have decided to focus on the elementary children in the spring to get them to consider the game. We also need to get the kids that participate in the middle school to continue at the high school.”

On the other hand

Depth is not a problem at St. Dom’s where the golf team looks like the size of baseball team. Finding athletes to join the team has not been a problem for the past nine years with Kevin Cullen at the helm.

“I hope it it has to do with how we built the program at St. Dom’s,” Cullen said. “We start with kids from the sixth grade on up. We try to make it fun and a great atmosphere that they can learn to play golf in.”

Cullen finds his players really do enjoy the sport and are not so easily discouraged.

“Every coach has to deal with what they have. It certainly helped me as a PGA professional. I can offer some credibility with my coaching,” Cullen said.


When Cullen came on board, he saw that there was room for improvement and a need to encourage athletes to play golf.

“Next year my numbers increased,” Cullen recalled. “All of a sudden I had 30 kids a year. “Now a lot of it has to do with St.Dom’s. St. Dom’s helped me create and build a junior high program.”

Cullen understands many schools don’t have that luxury of a strong feeder system. But he is quick to point out that his players constantly demonstrate their dedication and perseverance on the links.

“One of the the  things I started doing my third year was finding kids who weren’t playing a sport in the fall,” Cullen said. “Hey come out and play golf. Give it a try. I will teach you how to play, and if you like it, you will stick around.

“I have to give thanks to Fox Ridge (where St. Dom’s practices). They give us the entire driving range for two hours.”

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