Joe Dubois pored over Maine’s junior golf schedule and noticed something was missing for kids who want to play competitive golf.

He saw the Maine State Golf Association has the Maine Junior Golf Tour, with events running during summer vacation, but there was nothing before the MSGA season, and nothing after the school bells ring again in September.

Dubois’ daughter-in-law is an event planner at the Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, North Carolina, and helps put together the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship. He looked to see if there a local U.S. Kids Golf Tour in Maine.

There wasn’t — the closest U.S. Kids Golf Tour was in Boston, and another exists in Hartford, Connecticut.

So, he sought to change that.

Originally from Connecticut, Dubois signed up his grandson for a couple of events on the Hartford tour, and after the events he decided he wanted to start up a tour in the Lewiston-Auburn and Portland areas.

The national U.S. Kids Golf Tour office likes a PGA Pro running the local tour, but Dubois knew how busy the local PGA Pros are in Maine, with such a short season, so he stepped up to get the tour running in southern Maine.

Dubois has played all his life.

“They said, ‘Okay, you have our blessing,’ and they sent me the materials I needed to start to approach golf courses and get them contracted,” Dubois said. “In a relative short period, six weeks, I was able to put together an eight event tour (for the fall), which (the U.S. Kids Golf Tour) likes to do, which is going to be our inaugural tour.”

Dubois also cleared his endeavor with the MSGA.

“In talking with Brian (Bickford, Val Halla of Cumberland’s director of golf), he showed me a spreadsheet that he made,” Dubois said. “It showed the golf season and it showed the opportunities for kids over the months and where they were. Guess what? The summer from June through August is saturated. The spring there’s nothing for them and in the fall, unless they play high school golf on a team, there’s nothing for them.”

He told Nancy Storey, the Executive Director of the MSGA that he would start the Kids Tour when the Junior Tour ends in August and in the spring the Kids Tour would start in late April (weather permitting), and run until the Junior Tour starts.

The goal for the MSGA, U.S. Kids Golf Tour and The First Tee is getting kids to play the sport no matter which organization they choose to play events. 

Martindale of Auburn will be hosting the first tournament on the fall schedule on August 27, with Poland Spring hosting the eighth and final event on Oct. 16. Other courses that will be hoisting events include Riverside of Portland, (Sept 10), Gorham Country Club (Sept. 17), Val Halla (Sept. 18), Fox Ridge of Auburn (Oct. 2), Toddy Brook of North Yarmouth (Oct. 9), and Fairlawn of Poland (Oct. 15).

There will be a spring tour, as well, for 2017, with Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth hosting the Tour Championship on June 3.

The majority of the courses quickly jumped at the opportunity to fit the U.S. Kids Golf Tour into their course’s schedule. 

Dubois said 20 kids have signed up so far. The national office told Dubois not to get frustrated by low numbers early, as some of the organization’s top local tours started out with only 13 kids. The Boston and Hartford tours currently have 150 to 175 players. Dubois hopes to be marketing the organization to schools during winter to help spread the word.

Dubois isn’t concerned kids won’t make the transition from the Junior Tour to the Kids Tour due to other sports that run in the fall and spring.

“Most of the kids that are golfing, they follow the MSGA, that’s one of their primary sports,” Dubois said. “They are committed to it. They also get encouragement from their parents because their parents and grandparents are committed to it.”

One draw of the U.S. Kids Golf Tour is its focus on family.

“U.S. Kids Golf features parents, grandparents or family members as caddies for the kids,” Dubois said. “It’s a different philosophy from how different organizations do it. The reason is U.S. Kids Golf wants families involved to help the kids learn the game, learn the etiquette and just cheer them on.”

The tour is for boys and girls ages 5-14. Tee boxes are age-appropriate. The five-year-old age group plays a course no more than 1,100 yards for a nine hole tournament, while the nine-year-old age group will play the course no more than 1,900 yards for nine-holes. The max yardage for the 13-14 year olds is 6,000 yards for the boys and 5,000 for the girls for 18-hole tournaments.

Dubois said he scouts out the course with a range finder and usually with the course’s pro to find the perfect yardages and location for the tee box location.

The top five finishers who play at least four events in each age group will receive Priority Status, granting them invitations to Championship Events. They also need to shoot a target score for their age classification at least once. These events consist of state invitationals, regional championships, international championships and the world championship, held each year at Pinehurst.

Dubois is looking to start a fund next spring using most of the proceeds from each tournament to help with the financial cost of going to Pinehurst for golfers who do qualify.

The 2012 World Championship is a subject of a documentary, The Short Game, currently streaming on Netflix.

For more information, people can visit the U.S. Kids Tour website You can also email Joe Dubois at [email protected], or call him at 207-998-2206.

[email protected]

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