The Maine Golf Foundation, which is composed of the other major golf associations in the state, signed a letter of intent to take over operations of The First Tee of Maine.

The First Tee is a national program that introduces young people of all backgrounds to golf and the life lessons it teaches. It teaches these lessons through nine core values — honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, courtesy, judgment, confidence, responsibility and perseverance — on the course and in class-room settings.

The MGF’s goal is to continue to run the First Tee program at Riverside Golf Course in Portland and grow the program statewide.

In conjunction with the MGF taking over First Tee in the state, it will hold its first annual invitational fundraising tournament Aug. 16 at The Woodlands Club in Falmouth. A banquet and live auction are part of the fundraising effort. Former President George H.W. Bush and golf legend Arnold Palmer have lent their names as honorary chairmen to support the MGF’s goal of raising $100,000 through the tournament and auction. Neither Bush nor Palmer will attend the tournament or banquet.

Bangor Savings Bank signed on to be the tournament’s title sponsor.

Valerie Beman Kyros, the daughter of former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman, is executive director of the Maine Golf Foundation.

“The Maine Golf Foundation was formed to promote the game in the state,” said Kyros. “We realized our mission was perfectly aligned with The First Tee — build character through golf.

“Our goal is to expose more middle school kids to golf. Hopefully, we’ll have licenses to operate First Tee programs in Lewiston-Auburn and Bangor by January.”

Kyros said the MGF would like to expand First Tee into Maine schools. The First Tee has a National Schools Program, where schools can use the program for physical education classes. South Portland had a program in 2009-10.

The MGF is composed of the state’s three amateur golf associations (the Maine State Golf Association, the Women’s Maine State Golf Association and the Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association), along with the Maine Chapter of the New England PGA, the Maine Golf Course Superintendents Association, the Maine Golf Hall of Fame and Golf Maine, a marketing group of over 30 public courses.

MGF President Bob Timmins said Kyros’ vision and knowledge of the World Golf Foundation (her father was an original member) gives her a unique and insightful perspective. The World Golf Foundation started First Tee in 1997.

“Valerie has helped us to define our goals and to begin to move forward,” said Timmins. “The effort that she has put forth so far has allowed us to finally begin to solidify a vision that has been slowly coming together for the past several years.

“With her leadership, we will reach our ultimate mission of honoring, sustaining and growing golf in Maine.”

 

ALEXA RANCOURT, who has won the last two women’s state amateur championships, won’t be back for a possible three-peat this week at Bath Country Club. The Furman University golfer, who grew up in South Portland, will be playing in the Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship in Ontario, starting Tuesday. Rancourt said last month she wouldn’t defend her title. Since then, she received an exemption into the Canadian tournament.

Rancourt has been staying in Sarasota, Fla., with her mother and sister after working at junior golf camps at Furman. While in Florida, she missed qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Amateur by two strokes.

“I’ll miss playing in the state amateur,” said Rancourt. “I’m looking forward to the Canadian Amateur. It should be good experience.”

Rancourt will begin her sophomore year at Furman, located in Greenville, S.C., on Aug. 25.

The women’s state amateur, run by the Women’s Maine State Golf Association, is a 54-hole stroke play tournament that begins Monday and ends Wednesday.

With Rancourt not entered, the tournament appears wide open.

 

TEE TO GREEN: The fourth annual cPort Credit Union junior golf tourney is Aug. 10 at the Riverside North and South courses. The tournament is open to boys and girls ages 17-and-under. The tournament setup allows golfers of all abilities to have fun. There are winners for 18 holes, nine holes and putting contests. Boys and girls have separate categories. A free barbecue is provided to all players and their parents. There is a 7 a.m. check-in and an 8 a.m. shotgun start. The format is individual stroke play. Registration forms are available at www.cportcu.org.

The Deering High golf team held its inaugural Jimmy Fund scramble tournament at Riverside Golf Course on July 9. There were 84 players. Through entry fees, raffle tickets and sponsorships, the tournament raised $4,000 for the Jimmy Fund, which helps to fight cancer in children. The remainder of the proceeds went to the Deering golf team for golf bags and other equipment for this fall. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Bob Stanley played in the tournament along with his son, Kyle. Kyle Stanley was diagnosed with cancer when he was 9. He is now 29 and doing well, according to Deering golf coach and tournament organizer Bill Goodman. Goodman had a good model for the tournament. His father, Stephen, and his uncle, Myles Goodman, raised a total of a million dollars in 29 years of running Jimmy Fund tournaments in Greater Portland.

Recent Maine Amateur champion Ryan Gay of Pittston shot 209 (67-73-69) to tie for sixth in last week’s New England Amateur at Yale Golf Course in New Haven, Conn.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]