After 100 years of organizing and running men’s golf in this state, the Maine State Golf Association is turning a new page.

The MSGA is celebrating its 100th anniversary this season, and on May 30 it voted to absorb First Tee of Maine and to bring into its organization the Women’s Maine State Golf Association and the Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association. By the end of this year, the women’s associations will have merged with the MSGA and Junior Golf Maine will succeed First Tee of Maine.

“It’s a long process,” said Nancy Storey, executive director of the MSGA. “There are pressing issues, but the goal is to have a seamless transition. The timing of this is wonderful, because we have had an historic 100 years, and now we are moving into a new entity.”

Some Maine golfers have expressed concern about the men’s championships with women playing, and vice-versa. Storey said there will be separate championships for men and women, but some co-ed events, as well.

“It is about expanded participation,” she said. “It will be one organization, which will be Maine’s golf clearing house.”

The First Tee of Maine, run successfully in recent years by its executive director Ron Bibeau, did not replace him when he took a job last fall as head pro at Dunegrass. Having the winter and spring to digest this, the MSGA has decided to take over the junior programs. First Tee nationally has its most successful programs in inner-city environments, and that is not applicable in Maine’s mostly rural settings.

The MSGA plan is to promote junior golf through schools, YMCAs and municipal recreation departments, depending on what works best in various Maine towns. The model is Cumberland, where the recreation department, headed by Brian Bickford, has had an extremely successful youth golf program.

Bickford also is the head pro at Val Halla, which is Cumberland’s municipal course, making the situation there unique. Bickford might be the only combination head golf pro and recreation director in the nation, much less Maine. And he does both jobs extremely well.

Heidi Haylock, who played in an WMSGA event June 13 at Augusta with her Turner Highlands membership friends Karen Richardson, the club’s WMSGA representative, and Prudence Hornberger, the club’s SMGA representative, said the three of them are concerned about the tournament schedule of both women’s associations.

“We have four tournaments a week, two sponsored by each association,” Haylock said. “That is four options a week. “

In other words, Maine golfing women would like to have the choice to play four times in a calendar week, which they fear may be reduced by the MSGA merger.

“We’re still working on the schedule, as that’s one of the key points of the merger,” said Storey, who indicated that there may be multiple Tuesday tournaments for the women.

“They will still have all their special events,” she said, “and it is likely we will add more events as time goes on.”

*****

In the 11th MSGA Senior Four-Ball at Riverside June 13, Wade Trudell of Poland Spring and his partner Paul Connolly of Augusta tied for second 58 (-14) in the net flight, while Dale Brown of Fairlawn with partner Stew Durell tied for 18th in the gross competition.

*****

The MSGA is in its second consecutive week of no weekly tournaments. It is, however, having a Senior Tour event June 19 at Old Marsh. There also is a Junior Jamboree barbecue June 25 at Great Chebeague Island.

Plus, there will be two Maine Amateur qualifiers — June 20 at Poland Spring and June 22 at Penobscot Valley. The first one was held June 15 at Biddeford-Saco. The Maine Amateur will be July 11-13 at Brunswick.

Bill Kennedy
Bill Kennedy

Bill Kennedy

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