Tom and Barbara Wright were playing golf that day at the Boothbay Harbor Country Club, so they took their granddaughter, who was 5 at the time, with them and let her do a little chipping and putting.

“I liked it and wanted to keep playing,” Newcastle native Plourde, 16, said Monday after firing a 4-under-par 69 at the Penobscot Valley Country Club to share the first-round lead of the Maine Women’s Amateur with defending champ Staci Creech of Veazie.

Plourde, who plays out of the Samoset Resort in Rockport, and Creech, who plays out of the Bangor Municipal Golf Course, have a five-shot lead over Sarah Hansen from the Val Halla Golf and Recreation Center in Cumberland and a six-shot advantage over Stephanie Rodrigue from the Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn.

Minot’s Kristin Kannegieser, who won the Maine Women’s Amateur title in 2007 and 2010 and plays out of the Martindale Country Club in Auburn, and Lori Frost, who plays out of the Bangor Municipal Golf Course, were tied for fifth with 3-over 76s.

Tom Wright said he and his wife saw that their granddaughter “had some natural ability,” so they bought her a set of junior golf clubs a week after her excursion to the golf course.

“Her eyes lit up when she saw them,” Barbara Wright said. “Tom asked her what she thought of the golf clubs, and she said, ‘Wow, they look like my size.’”

They also introduced her to club pro Chris Angis, and he was going to give her a quick lesson.

“He told us he wasn’t going to charge us because he figured with the attention span of a 5-year-old, the lesson would be over in 10 minutes,” said Barbara Wright.

“He had to drag her back in after an hour,” Tom Wright said with a grin.

Barbara Wright thinks her granddaughter has since played 18 holes each time she steps back onto a golf course.

Plourde is just 16, but she has already racked up an impressive resume as she prepares for her senior year at Lincoln Academy. She won the state schoolgirl golf championship last fall after sharing the title as a freshman and tying for second as a sophomore.

She won the Junior Girls state championship earlier this month.

“At first, I just went out and had fun. Then, when I was 8 or 9, I wanted to play competitively,” said Plourde.

She works hard on her game, about six days per week during the season “depending upon what tournaments I have.”

But after the state schoolgirl championships in October, she puts her clubs away to play basketball for Lincoln Academy.

“I like taking a break from it so when I come back to it, I’m fresh,” she said.

Plourde will occasionally go to the Golf and Ski Warehouse in Scarborough to hit some balls during the winter.

She feels good about her game.

“I’m getting better. I’ve been more confident in my game lately,” Plourde said. “My short game has gotten a lot better. And I’ve gained about 15 yards with my drives and every other club. My yardage and my greens are a lot better.”

She said by working on her game, it has enabled her to get stronger physically.

“Her game has definitely been getting stronger,” said Bob Plourde, who caddies for her and added that she maintains her composure on the course even if she hits a bad shot.

Bailey Plourde doesn’t envision becoming a professional golfer but would like to play in college and has been weighing offers from Division II and III schools.

“She’s a great girl. It’s good to see her playing well,” said Creech, who got to know Plourde when the two of them traveled to St. Louis last year to play for the Maine team in a national tournament.

“She’s fun. She’s laid back. She doesn’t take it too, too seriously. She hits it pretty well,” she added.

The 43-year-old Creech, a former University of North Carolina standout, registered an eagle, five birdies and three bogeys en route to her 69, and Plourde carded six birdies and two bogeys.

“I’m happy,” said Creech, whose chip shot on the 18th hole came inches away from landing in the cup. “I putted much better than I had been. I’ve been working hard on it.

“I made a couple of mistakes. I had a bad three-putt on 16. I left a few [putts] out there. You can’t get aggressive with your putts on these greens,” added Creech, the wife of University of Maine Athletic Director Karlton Creech.

Plourde earned a share of the lead with a 12-foot birdie putt on 18 and was pleased with her round.

“My putting is really strong right now,” she said. “You have to stay below the pin. The one time I was above the pin, I bogeyed the hole.”


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