MANCHESTER – A local golf course looks better than ever after major renovations to a pair of its first holes.
Augusta Country Club has made significant improvements to the front nine with recent work on holes 5 and 6. The project involved overhauls to bunkers and drainage systems on both holes which forced the postponement of a golf tournament major – The Maine Event.
Work on the fifth hole involved remodeling all of the bunkers and fixing a drainage issue that had resulted in water collecting. The bunkers were also remodeled on the sixth hole, which required additional work to widen a narrow path along the course and cover the grass.
Work on the course began on June 17 and was completed last Wednesday. As a result, The Maine Event, a two-day tournament that was scheduled for last Monday and Tuesday, had to be postponed to a date yet to be determined later this year.
Although the Augusta Country Club could not host a major tournament during renovations, it was still open for member play. The country club established a temporary green on the fifth hole during the working period on that hole and did the same for the sixth hole the following week.
“We did a lot of work on these two holes with an outside contractor (On-Course Design), and really, it turned out even better than expected,” said Dave Soucy, general manager of Augusta Country Club. “Chris Barnicoat, our superintendent of greens, has also worked very hard. We are very satisfied with the results.
The official date for Maine’s postponed event has yet to be finalized, but organizers hope to hold the tournament later this summer. Those organizers, Soucy said, are currently considering an August date for the tournament.
In the meantime, Augusta Country Club has tournaments booked each of the next four weeks. Central Maine Seniors, Maine Medical Center, the Kennebec Valley YMCA and United Way all hosted competitions during what Soucy said has been an exceptionally active year at the club.
“It’s the busiest club ever,” Soucy said. “I think the pandemic two years ago forced people out, and we got the momentum from a busy year last year that carried over into this year. Everyone is outside and playing.
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A dozen local golfers will compete next week in the 103rd edition of the Maine Amateur Championship.
Eight recent qualifiers and four qualifiers from a year ago have earned the right to participate in the event, which is due to start on Tuesday. These qualifiers now know their tee times, with some having to start on hole 1 and others on hole 10.
The field features four Augusta Country Club players: TJ Folsom, Mark Plummer, Jack Quinn, Michael Rankin and Mitchell Terrio. Plummer and Quinn (7:30 a.m.), Tarrio (8:36 a.m.) and Folsom (1:06 p.m.) will play the 10th hole, and Rankin will play the No. 1 at 12:44 p.m.
The Plummer-Quinn couple will feature a stark difference between 70-year-old Plummer and 12-year-old Quinn. With 13 Maine Amateur Championship wins under his belt, Plummer has more championships in the tournament than Quinn has spent years on Earth.
“To be honest, I’m not really positive about (the tournament) because I’m getting too old,” Plummer said. “These youngsters are taking over, but it’s also fun to watch. It’s great to follow them and see what they can do.
From Waterville Country Club, Paul Wiggin (8:25 a.m.) and Drew Glasheen (12:00 p.m.) will tee off from hole #1. The other two Waterville Maine Amateur qualifiers, Hunter Smith and Kevin Byrne, will tee off on the 10th hole at 9:09 a.m. and 12:33 p.m., respectively.
Natanis Golf Course’s Conner Paine will tee off from the first hole at 8:40 a.m., and Luke Ruffing, whose 3-under score on June 22 at the Dutch Elm Golf Course was the best of five qualifying tournaments, will tee off at No. 1 at 12 p.m. 22 Neil Larochelle of the Meadows Golf Course will start from the No. 1 hole at 1:50 p.m. as part of the final grouping.
The tournament will take place at Webhannet Golf Club in Kennebunk. The course, Plummer said, is an intriguing course in that it has a below-average distance at 6,100 yards, but plays harder closer to the hole.
“It’s not very long, but there are some tricky greens,” Plummer said. “You don’t have to be a real bomber to play there.”
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