PORTLAND — Shawn Warren had a summer to savor playing golf in New England.
If all goes well in the next couple months, 2014 could be even better.
Warren, an assistant golf pro at both Nonesuch River and Dunegrass, recently made it through the first stage of Web.com qualifying school in Lakeland, Fla. He tied for 22nd with a four-round total of 4-under 284. Twenty-six players advanced.
“I played solid,” said Warren. “I shot even par the first round, 1 under the next two rounds and 2 under the last round. I did what I had to do.”
Warren will go to McKinney, Texas, for the second stage of qualifying Nov. 12-15. If he gets through that stage, he would have conditional status on the Web.com Tour and could improve his standing in the final stage of qualifying Dec. 12-17 at La Quinta, Calif.
Why play in Texas when he could play the second stage in Florida, where he lives in the winter?
“Because I’ve played there before and they have bent grass greens,” he said.
The former Windham High standout returned to Maine last week to get his car and drive back to Orlando, Fla. Before he left, he played in a pro-am and gave some lessons, illustrating the dichotomy between a golf pro who plays and one who also works at a club.
Warren, 28, won a slew of tournaments this summer, including the New England PGA section championship, which brought him his biggest paycheck so far in his pro career – $14,000.
Some of his other wins were the Rhode Island Open, the New England Stroke Play Championship and the New England Pro-Pro Match Play with Jim Fairbanks. He also won the Maine Chapter Championship, the State of Maine Championship and the Maine Assistants Championship. His play earned him the Skip Wogan Award as New England Player of the Year.
Blessed with plenty of talent, Warren is putting it all together. In most of his tournaments this summer, he had rounds in the low-to-mid-60s.
After a playoff loss in the 2011 Maine Open (when he led going to the final hole) and a so-so 2012 season, Warren was determined to tap his potential.
“I think maturity and knowing myself better has made a difference,” he said. “I make sure everything is in order when I’m preparing for a tournament.”
Warren won the Maine Open in 2004 as an amateur and the Maine Amateur two years later at Portland Country Club.
His instructor is Joe Cioe of Spring Hill, Fla., who he befriended the last few winters in Florida. Cioe won the Maine Open in 1998 and still plays in tournaments, but spends a lot of his time as an instructor.
“Joe made my swing a little tighter and stressed the importance of taking advantage of my effortless power,” said Warren. “I’ve shortened my swing to reign in the misses. It’s just cleaning up a lot of old habits.”
Warren switched to a long putter with an anchored stroke a few years ago. His putting improved, but he’s making plans to abandon the long putter because of the PGA Tour’s ban that goes into effect beginning with the 2016 season.
“I may go with a version that Matt Kuchar uses. His putter shaft goes up his arm. I’ve tried it and it feels pretty solid,” said Warren.
Because of his success this season, Warren is confident that he can play at the highest levels.
“I feel my maturity has caught up where my natural abilities are,” said Warren.
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: TomChardPPH