NEWRY – Len Cole of Hampden flashed his old form with a 73 in the opening round Tuesday of the Maine Amateur at Sunday River Golf Club.

Cole, 50, added an 83 in the second round Wednesday for a two-day total of 156.

The two-day cut fell at 159, with 42 players advancing.

With his family older, Cole figures he’ll have more time for tournament golf. He hasn’t been able to play in many recent state amateurs. That could be changing as family commitments lessen.

“The last three or four years, I don’t think I played a total of 20 rounds. I’ve already played that much this year,” he said.

Twenty-five years ago, Cole was one of the top players in the state. He was a top junior golfer in the state in the late 1970s.

After high school, he went to the University of Tennessee to play golf. He was a roommate of Jim Gallagher Jr., who played several years on the PGA Tour.

There aren’t too many players in this year’s state amateur that Cole can call contemporaries.

“Maybe about 15,” said Cole. “I played my first Maine Amateur when I was 15.”

Cole said his best finish in the tournament was at Waterville Country Club.

“I’m not sure exactly where I finished, but I received a medal so it must have been in the top three.”

Cole qualified for this year’s tournament at Biddeford-Saco Country Club. Even though he’s a member at Penobscot Valley in Orono, which would seem a natural place to qualify, Cole and his family were on vacation at Old Orchard Beach during the week of the qualifying tourney.

Penobscot Valley was the last of the three qualifying tournaments July 3.

While the Maine Amateur is dominated by the younger set, Cole loves playing in it.

“Golf keeps you young,” said Cole.

Now that Cole has more opportunities to play, he hopes to continue playing in the tournament.

Making the 36-hole cut in the 54-hole tournament gets a golfer in next year’s tournament without having to go through the chore of qualifying.

Cole said his game has been further sharpened by playing in his regular group at Penobscot Valley. One of his playing partners is Joe Alvarez, also of Hampden. Alvarez is one of the top players in the state, having won the Mid-Amateur title and the match-play championship two years ago at Augusta CC.

The late Bob Girvan was also part of Cole’s regular foursome at Penobscot Valley.

Girvan, a Maine Amateur contender every time he teed it up, died of brain cancer in 2008.

“Bob’s favorite spot was the eighth tee at Kebo Valley Club in Bar Harbor,” said Cole.

The eighth tee is one of the most scenic spots in all of Maine golf. Perched high, the tee faces Cadillac Mountain of Acadia National Park.

“I think of Bob a lot when I’m playing and even more when I’m on the eighth tee at Kebo,” said Cole.

In five years, Cole will be eligible for the Maine Senior Amateur.

“I plan on playing in a lot of them,” he said.

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

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