Former PGA Tour player Kenny Knox, a three-time winner on the tour in the late 1980s and early 1990s, will be the director of golf at the Maine Golf and Tennis Academy in North Belgrade. The camp is located on Salmon Lake and was formerly known as Camp Kennebec.
Owner Joel Lavenson bought the camp in 1985 and turned it into a golf and tennis camp in 1998. Knox, who lives in Tallahasee, Fla., has been teaching since he left the tour.
He possessed a tremendous short game and a red-hot putter when he played on the PGA and Champions tours. He teaches the whole swing but the shots around the green and putting are his specialties. He runs short-game clinics in the South. He also has his own club line, featuring wedges and putters.
Knox was recommended to Lavenson by former director Tom Leimberger, who couldn’t continue as director because of a full-time club job in Florida.
Knox made his first visit to Maine last winter to see the camp.
“There was snow on the ground but I really liked what I saw,” said Knox.
“The camp has a driving range, a short-game area and a par-3 course. I feel this is a good opportunity to have an impact on a bunch of young people. I’ll teach them my techniques, philosophy and whatever it takes to score better.”
The course is also located only 10 minutes away from Belgrade Lakes Golf Course, one of the top courses in Maine. The more advanced players at the academy will play Belgrade Lakes a few times during the summer.
Campers at the Maine Golf and Tennis Academy come from all over the world. Knox expects players of differing abilities.
“There will be a certain number looking to take golf to the next level. My job will be to prepare them to play in college. There will be others who are interested in golf but they’re also interested in other sports,” said Knox.
He said there might be some language barriers because of the diversity of the campers, but he’s confident communication won’t be a problem. After all, isn’t golf a universal language?
“I’ve played all over the world,” said Knox. “I feel my communication skills are pretty strong.”
Knox will bring some of his instructors from his golf school while Lavenson will hire some college students who are professional golf management majors.
“I’m very much looking forward to it,” said Knox, who will arrive June 15. The camp starts June 23. “We’re looking to build the camp back to the way it used to be.”
The Maine Golf and Tennis Academy has all the activities of a traditional summer camp.
“The big thing is that a kid could be playing on our little golf course, put his clubs down and go water skiing,” said Lavenson, whose father and uncle both went to Camp Kennebec, which was founded in 1907.
There are two four-week sessions or an eight-week session.
“Most kids come for four weeks,” said Lavenson.
Lavenson would like to attract Maine kids to the academy, which is offering 50 percent off the regular price to Maine children for four- and eight-week sessions.
TEE TO GREEN: Jim Fairbanks and Shawn Warren won the New England PGA Pro-Pro Match Play Championship last week at LeBaron Hills Country Club in Lakeville, Mass.
Forty teams played an 18-hole qualifying round. Fairbanks-Warren shot a 66 in qualifying to gain the fourth seed in the 16-team field and won four matches, including a 4 and 3 victory over Ed Kirby and John Rainone in the final. The Maine duo each won $1,700.
Fairbanks is the head pro at Dunegrass Country Club in Old Orchard Beach while Warren is a teaching pro at both courses. Warren said a reason for beating some of the top club pros in New England was “the good rapport Jim and I have. We’ve played a lot of golf together. We fed off each other and each had our moments in the tournament.”
Warren followed that up with a tie for first in a NEPGA assistant pro tournament at the Ocean Course at New Seabury in Mashpee, Mass. Warren shot a 2-under 70. Ron Kelton, a first-year assistant pro at Purpoodock, tied for fourth with a 73.
Warren will play in a U.S. Open local qualifying tournament at Pine Hills in Plymouth, Mass., this week, He is looking to advance to the 36-hole U.S. Open sectional tournament in June in Purchase, N.Y. Warren has made it to the sectional twice. Golfers who make it through the sectionals are in the U.S. Open.
Abby Spector will be an assistant pro at Dunegrass this season. Spector, a seven-time state women’s amateur champion who played at the University of North Carolina, was at Sugarloaf last summer. She will be the First Tee coach at Dunegrass along with doing women’s and junior clinics.
Spector has compiled a strong resume, having worked at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., the Balsams, Nantucket and other courses. Spector was inducted into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.
Belgrade Lakes Golf Club opened last Wednesday.
“We have a pretty full tee sheet,” said Kyle Evans, the course’s managing partner. “People are anxious to play.”
Belgrade Lakes is the annual host for the Maine State Golf Association’s Club Team Championship, which will be played May 19.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: