BRUNSWICK — Most Brunswick Golf Club members know that whenever they stop by the course, the Volkswagen Jetta will be there.

It can be early in the morning, late into evening, or anytime in between. Caleb Manuel’s car will be there, parked in the club champion’s spot.

And he’ll be working.

“Morning, noon and night, it does not surprise me if he’s the first car in the parking lot,” Brunswick director of golf A.J. Kavanaugh said. “…(And) if there’s enough daylight to see your golf ball, most likely Caleb is going to be here.”

The state knows Manuel, 19, for his results. At Brunswick, they know him for his work ethic. Manuel’s been authoring another superb summer, one that has included his first Maine Amateur championship, a runner-up finish in the New England Amateur, and qualification for the Korn Ferry Tour event in Falmouth earlier in July.

Behind those results have been long hours on the course, long hours on the driving range and often longer hours on the putting green, as Manuel spends nearly every day boosting every aspect of his game.

“I pretty much live here throughout the summer,” Manuel said. “You get out of the game what you put into it. … The reason I do that is because I’ve got to keep my game sharp, but I wouldn’t play the game if I wasn’t having fun.”

For Manuel, the work equals success. And success equals fun.

“You get that feeling, and you’re like ‘man, I love this feeling,'” he said. “To get to that feeling, you’ve got to work hard, and hopefully get back to that spot and win bigger.”

“I think early on, when he was a freshman or sophomore or middle schooler and he did it, that was when people were like ‘he’s here all the time,'” Kavanaugh added. “Now, they’re just kind of inspired by it. It’s something they’ve come to expect.”

Manuel loves to play. The rounds, he said, are where he learns what he needs to work on, and he’ll usually play 18 to 36 holes in a day with anyone ranging from close friends to complete strangers.

Caleb Manuel practices putting on July 26 at Brunswick Golf Club. Manuel is often seen at the club snapping a line on a putting green as he tries to fine-tune that part of his game. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“He doesn’t have a select group of guys he always has to golf with,” Kavanaugh said. “He’ll play with absolutely anybody. He’s made some of our members’ days and years by saying ‘sure, I’ll go play golf with you.’ And it’s such a treat to watch somebody that good.”

It’s with his detailed and extensive practice routines, however, that Manuel separates himself from other avid golfers.

“A big part of practice is you’ve got to do it with a purpose. You can’t just kind of hit ball after ball and expect to kind of get better,” he said. “You’ve got to kind of work on things while you’re out there.”

To achieve that, Manuel uses a variety of tools when he practices. He uses a device to snap chalk lines on the green to help with his putting line. He’ll stand over a mirror while putting to help with his alignment and position over the ball, and he’ll use alignment sticks and sometimes a TrackMan simulator on the range to get a better sense for his ball flight.

Manuel likes to use the range. But he prefers to give his short game the bulk of his attention.

“I pretty much do the same thing every day,” he said. “I’ll use that chalk line and I’ll hit probably 25, 50 putts. Sometimes I’ll use one hand, you see Tiger doing that. Then I’ll make 25 four-footers, with different breaks. … I’ll hit some eight-footers, I’ve got to hit six out of eight. And then I’ll do some lag putting, I’ve got to two-putt eight 40-footers in a row.”

Manuel the player generates the headlines. Manuel the practicer generates the stories at McAvoy’s, Brunswick’s clubhouse restaurant. Allan Greenleaf, the club superintendent, remembers going to the board of directors and asking for more sand for the bunker at the practice facility. Manuel had blasted too much of it out.

“They looked at me like I was crazy,” Greenleaf said. “I said ‘yeah, that’s Caleb doing it. He’s just in there; he’s using the practice bunker all the time.'”

Another time, Greenleaf recalled driving by the practice green and seeing Manuel putting five-footers while standing on a towel.

Caleb Manuel watches a putt while practicing on July 26 at Brunswick Golf Club. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“Two days later, I saw him and asked him ‘what’s the trick with standing on a towel?'” he said. “He said, ‘I didn’t want to mark up your green.’ He’s standing in the same spot hitting five-foot putts, and he didn’t want to put cleat marks in the green.”

Greenleaf had more anecdotes. The times Manuel heads to the golf course before heading to Mt. Ararat when the high school had late starts. And the time pouring rain kept everyone home except Manuel and a friend, who held an umbrella for Manuel to stand under while putting.

“Hands down, he practices more than anybody at the club,” Greenleaf said. “He loves the game. It’s what he does. We crack jokes with him, but it’s really impressive.”

Manuel’s practice habits have had an effect on the other, particularly younger, Brunswick golfers. Kavanaugh called it the “Caleb factor.”

“There are young kids … who have witnessed it here on the golf course and do it themselves,” he said. “He, at this club, is the reason why these kids are doing those things. They’re not doing it because they saw Rickie Fowler do it. They’re doing it because they saw Caleb do it right here in front of their eyes.”

Not all days are fun. Manuel will have what his coach at the University of Connecticut calls “grind days,” where he goes to the course just to do hours of drills.

“Some days, you’ve got to put playing aside,” he said. “I’ve definitely had a couple of days like that out here where I just put some headphones in and get to work.”

Some around him worry about burnout, and that grind stamping out his enthusiasm for the game. Manuel doesn’t. He said he saves plenty of time for friends and other activities to break the pattern, an example being a recent fishing trip when he saw the weather worsening.

When it cleared, however, the urge to get back to the course returned.

“You’ve got to kind of be hungry for more,” he said. “I definitely have the golf bug. I think I always have.”

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