Some of the members of the Leavitt golf team pose for a photo prior to a recent practice at Turner Highlands. From left to right, front; Brice Merrill, Morghan Dutil, Coach Harry Haylock, Ruby Haylock and Connor Wells. Back, left to right, Eli Lind, Steven Parshall and Lucas Mortensen. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Monmouth golf team coach Don Flanagan, center, is surrounded by his team at Springbrook Golf Club prior to a recent practice. From left to right are, front row, Casey Kaplan, Abby Flanagan, Andrea McDonald. Back, Matthew Fortin, Trevor Flanagan, Joe Arps, Spencer Richardson and Ryan Burnham. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Leavitt and Monmouth will be fielding their own golf teams this fall, but unlike most new programs both teams are bringing plenty of experience to the table.

Monmouth players have experience playing at the high school level having spent recent seasons practicing and going to matches through a co-op agreement with Winthrop. Last year, the Mustangs had enough players to to be considered a team by the MPA and even qualified for the Class C state tournament, in which they finished in eighth place.

They also finished second in the Mountain Valley Conference tournament, which allowed them to qualify for states.

The reason why they maintained their co-op with Winthrop last year is they didn’t get the proper paperwork done in time.

Don Flanagan, Monmouth’s head coach, is excited to have all that experience in his lineup when the Mustangs tee it up as an independent team in 2018.

Trevor Flanagan, Abby Flanagan, Joe Arps, Matt Fortin and Ryan Burnham all return from last year’s team.

“We will take anyone that’s willing to play again to grow the sport, but it’s good to have that experience for the new players coming in,” Don Flanagan said. “As you saw today, we have a new player matched up with the (players) who have been here for a few years. It helps the new players get around the course and helps teach them the game. It builds some excitement for the program to sustain for the long-term and not for the short-term.”

While Don Flanagan wants to grow the sport and make one-on-one coaching time more accessible, the players are competitive at heart.

“We want to win a lot of our matches,” Abby Flanagan said. “If we do good in the MVC matches, we’ll make it into the states like we did last year.”

Leavitt, meanwhile, doesn’t have players with high school experience — the program folded in 2013 due to budget cuts — but does have one of the best up-and-coming golfers in freshman Ruby Haylock, who finished in a tie for fourth at the Women’s Amateur this summer at Rockland Country Club.

Her father, Harry Haylock, returns to coach after serving as an assistant or as a head coach at Leavitt from 2000-2013. He said he will lean on his daughter because of her competition experience during the summer months the past couple of years.

“Her and Morhgan (Dutil) played ladies league together, and they feel comfortable together,” Harry Haylock said. “I think they will provide leadership to the team, not only demonstrating the work ethic, but also the skill on what it takes to be competitive and help the team to succeed.”

Dutil, a sophomore, knew she had to step up, weven though she’s only a sophomore, because of her playing experience in the women’s league at Turner Highlands and other tournaments.

“This was my first year playing in a lot of big tournaments, and I’m glad I did it because I think it prepared me for high school golf,” Dutil said.

Excited to play for their school

Players from both teams are excited to be playing for their schools and having the support of those schools behind them.

“I feel it will make matches a little easier and a little more fun because I am playing with people I see all the time and I know, that I have fun with,” Dutil said.

The Monmouth players are excited to to get out of Winthrop’s shadow.

“It feels great. It was fun playing with the Winthrop kids, but at the end of the day, we weren’t getting the chance to be our own team to show what we really could do,” Ryan Burnham said. “It’s going to be exciting to see what we can do this year.”

The Mustangs are pumped for the match against Winthrop on Sept. 20.

“It will be fun playing against Winthrop and seeing what the differences are since we split up,” Arps said.

Ruby Haylock, who went to Buckfield Junior High for her middle school years, figured she would be playing high school golf at some point in her four-year career. Playing for Leavitt will allow her to meet some new kids.

“It’s definitely nice to get to know new people, especially since I am switching schools,” Ruby Haylock said. “I am kind of making friends before school even starts, and it will make school easier.”

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