Matt Findlay, 24, of South Portland didn’t see his tee shot go in the hole, but why would he? Even though he stands 6-foot-4, the hole was a par-4, the ninth at Willowdale Golf Course in Scarborough, measuring 320 yards. The fairway runs to the green below. Course officials said it’s the first one they could recall at the ninth
“I’ve been here 15 years and no one has made a hole-in-one on this hole,” said Stan Arnold, who works the front desk at the course. “Several people have driven the green over the years, but no one has put it in the hole.”
Findlay thought his ball had ended up on the green because he had hit it well. With his height and 240 pounds going into his swing, Findlay generates a lot of club head speed. He regularly hits 300-yard drives.
“When I walked over the hill and didn’t see the ball on the green, I started looking around the green,” said Findlay. “I started walking back toward the tee because I thought it might have plugged. We looked all around. Then someone in my group said we should check the hole. They pulled the flag and a ball came out, but I thought they were playing a joke on me.”
No joke. The ball was Findlay’s. It was his first career ace.
“I didn’t get to enjoy it because I didn’t see it go in,” he said.
Playing partners were Reis Hagerman of Windham, Nick McCrillis and Andy Fasulo, both of Scarborough.
Findlay, who works for TD Bank, played golf, basketball and baseball at Southern Maine Community College after playing the same sports and football at South Portland High.
While he said it was difficult to concenrate on the back nine, Findlay ended up shooting a 79.
STANDING BEHIND the ninth green at the Portland Country Club overlooking part of the front nine with glistening Casco Bay in the distance, Harry McCracken marveled at the vista.
“How can you beat this,” asked McCracken, the executive secretary of the New England Golf Association. “This view is one of the best of any New England golf course and we haven’t had a cloud in the sky for two days.”
The 16th New England Senior Amateur Championship was held at the Donald Ross course over two days last week. The field got to play one of the top courses in New England. Portland proved fair, challenging and in superb condition. The players belong to some of the finest courses in New England.
At just over 6,400 yards from the back tees, Portland proved plenty challenging for the age-55-and-over crowd. Shawn McLoughlin, a 70-year-old from of Newtown, Conn., showed he still has plenty of game by winning his second New England Seniors Championship by one shot over two players with a 73-72-145. McLoughlin’s first title came in 2000.
And challenging? No one broke par in great weather with little to no wind. The course had its own defenses including thick rough just off the green’s fringes. It took a skilled shot to get it close to the pin.
The green’s were fast, but not overly so unless putting from above the hole. Two of the par 3s played from over 200 yards while a third, No. 7 — which ranks as one of the top 3 pars in the state — played at 192 yards with water on the right. On the second day, the tees were moved up on the par-3, 14th, much to the players’ approval. Instead of a 208-yard shot, it played at 167 yards on day two.
“This is the longest 6,400-yard course I’ve played,” said one player.
TEE TO GREEN: Today is the final day for the men’s Tri-State Championship at Martindale Country Club in Auburn. Maine won last year’s competition at Jay Peak Country Club in Vermont.
The Maine team of Monica Austin, Emily Bouchard and Laurie Hyndman missed the 36-hole cut in last week’s USGA Women’s State Team Championship in Kettering, Ohio.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: