Leslie Guenther never thought of golf as a competitive sport.

When she was in the fourth grade, her parents joined the Covington Country Club in Covington, Louisiana., and she got involved in the club’s junior clinic.

Now, as the athletic director at Hebron Academy, golf is more about spending time friends and friends.

“With our weekly state days, I am not sure any of us go to those with the idea that is is a competition,” Guenther said. “You think this is another great opportunity to play another golf course and maybe be paired with some new women. We certainly have had our share of competitive opportunities as well, culminating in our state championship. Some of my closest friends in Maine have been people I know because I play golf.”

When she did compete, she won junior tournaments at Covington. She eventually took home Women’s State Golf Association and Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association titles. And she will be one of three golfers inducted to the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on Sept. 8 at Poland Spring.

“I played in the junior club championship when I was 9,” Guenther said. “I was the only girl and there were a few boys in the 9-10-year-old category. It was a big joke in my family because the trophy had a big male icon. I was the only girl in the whole tournament. I don’t think a girl would ever compete, much less win.”

She won the 2014 WMSGA State Amateur and she was also runner-up in 2012. She has won the SMWGA’s Amateur title four times (2005, 2009, 2010, 2011) and was a runner-up in 2006. She also represented Maine at the United States Golf Association’s State Team Championship in 2007 and 2009.

Guenther added her latest WMGA title Aug. 2 when she won her first Senior Championship at Augusta Country Club. She shot a 77.

“I like the Augusta Golf Course,” Guenther said. “I have played there enough times that it’s very familiar to me. It didn’t start off really well for me. I started with three bogeys. I was 3-over through the first three holes and 6-over for the day. I played steadily, and I miss some opportunities, for sure, but I played fine.”

But she’s unsure how much competitive drive she has, and that probably held her back from winning more championships.

While she was still living in Louisiana, she continued to play the sport in high school. She was the only girl on the team her freshman and sophomore season. She said there wasn’t many regular season tournaments, but she did compete at state tournaments.

When she entered college at Emory University in Atlanta, she was at a crossroads of her competitive career. The university didn’t have a women’s team and playing against the men at that level wasn’t going to be feasible.

“You get to the point, you get to the place where I wasn’t sure if I was going to be eligible to play on the boys’ team or with the boys,” Guenther said. “At some point, physics take over. I couldn’t play from the men’s tees, with the way they hit the ball. It’s not the same game when someone outhits you by a whole lot.”

She did play during her downtime at Emory’s home course — East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, which is now the final stop of the PGA Tour season. The club hosts the Tour Championship. The course was designed by Bobby Jones, who won 13 majors and also helped design the Augusta National Golf Club.

East Lake wasn’t in any shape to host the world’s best golfers when she played it.

“The course was in terrible disrepair,” Guenther said. “It was an old Bobby Jones course, so it had a lot of history and fame to it, but it was in horrible shape. So when I played there, there was an old chain linked fence around it. I would go out sometimes and would say I am with the Emory golf team and they would let me play. They didn’t ask any questions.”

Guenther reconnected with the game on a more of a regular basis when she was hired at Hebron Academy in 1991 after a stint in New York after she graduated college.

“I joined Norway Country Club because it was very close to Hebron, and it was totally affordable, unlike New York,” Guenther said. “I found out there were competitive women’s leagues, the Maine State Women’s Golf Association and the Southern Maine Women.”

She’s also a member Mingo Springs Golf Course in Rangeley, where she works two days a week in the pro shop during the summer. She also has a camp up in Rangeley.

She didn’t start playing in the WMSGA or the SMWGA until the early 1990s. It was an opportunity to get off the Hebron campus where she lives with her husband.

“When you work at a boarding school, you know your campus community quite well, but you spend so much time at a boarding school you never get off campus,” Guenther said. “It was a great way in the summer to get out to meet a lot of different people and play a lot of different golf courses.”

The other two being inducted into the Hall of Fame are Brian Bickford, the Director of Golf at Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland, and Forrest Tyson, an accomplished amateur who won numerous Senior Amateur titles in the 1930s and 1940s. He also was the Maine State Golf Association’s fourth President.

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