Mike Norris of Newburgh doesn’t get to play much golf because of family and work, but when he does he’s usually around par or below. Norris, 55, has a swing that doesn’t need much, if any, fine-tuning and a game that travels well.
For example, Norris had a recent week off from work and played in two tournaments, winning both. He won the opening Maine State Golf Association weekly amateur at Fox Ridge Golf Course in Auburn with a 2-under par 70, and a few days later shot a 3-under 69 at Dunegrass in Old Orchard Beach to win the first MSGA Senior Tour event of the season.
It was Norris’ first time playing Dunegrass.
“We had a yardage book and they pointed us to the first tee, and off we went,” said Norris.
Norris could have been lower but “I three-putted twice.”
Norris usually schedules his golf around his vacations.
“I only have three weeks off a year,” said Norris, who is a salesman for Pine State Trading, which sells groceries, soda, water, wine and beer to stores. “I take a week off in the spring, one in the summer and one in the fall. The week off in the summer is for the family. I usually play well in the spring.”
During the rest of the year, Norris plays once a week, if that. He is a member of Hermon Meadow in Hermon.
“I used to play in all of the tournaments,” he said.
But that was several years ago. So how does he still play so well only playing once a week?
“I don’t understand it,” said Norris. “I tell everyone it’s like riding a bike. I have a pretty good, easy swing and I don’t get into trouble like I used to. I have better course management.”
Norris has a new set of irons that he feels has helped.
Norris is 6-foot-6 and uses standard length clubs.
“I just buy them off the rack in the pro shop,” he said.
Norris was introduced to the game at 8 years old by his dad, John.
“I’ve never stopped playing. My mother used to drop me off at Pine Hill Golf Course in Brewer at 7 o’clock and I would play all day by myself,” said Norris.
Norris tied for the state high school title in 1976 and 1977 as a Brewer High player , then played at Husson. Norris won his only Paul Bunyan Amateur title in 1999. The last time he played in the Maine Amateur was in 2006 at the Portland Country Club, where he tied for fifth. Shawn Warren won.
Unlike most top players, Norris doesn’t play much although he’s still considered a contender in anything he enters.
“Mike is pretty laid back,” said Randy Hodsdon, the director of rules and competition for the MSGA. “He sees things a little differently, but talent-wise there is no one better in the state. I’ve known Mike since he was 13.”
Hodsdon remembers playing with Norris in a pro-am at Hermon Meadow several years ago and watching Norris hit a 1-iron 265 yards to the middle of the 10th green.
Popular hybrid clubs have replaced the lower irons, but Norris still carries a 2-iron.
Norris said he’s thinking of entering this year’s Bunyan on June 7-8 at Penboscot Valley in Orono and Kebo Valley in Bar Harbor. The Maine Senior Amateur Championship will be Sept. 2-3 at Penobscot Valley. That would seem a natural for Norris, who said he will play.
Until then, Norris will stick to his philosophy of less is more.
TEE TO GREEN: Junior golfers from Dunegrass, Purpoodock, the Ledges, Val Halla, Webhannet and the Woodlands are participating in the PGA Junior Golf League, which provides team competition for kids age 13 and under. It brings a Little League atmosphere to golf because the players are given shirts with numbers. The competition is a two-player scramble format. That adds to the enjoyment because the juniors don’t have to play individual stroke play, which can be stressful at any age.The PGA of America started the league in 2011 in four markets: Atlanta, Tampa, Dallas and San Diego. It has had heavy growth since.
“It gets kids into golf in a fun format with a team concept,” said Tony Decker, head golf pro at Purpoodock. …
The deadline to enter the state qualifier for USGA Public Links tournament is May 28. The qualifier is June 12 at Brunswick. …
Gary Rees is back at Val Halla as an assistant pro. Rees served as head pro at the course from 1976-82 and from 1986-92. He coached the Greely High golf team to multiple state titles in those years and is the executive director of the Maine Golf Hall of Fame. …
John Boswell is in his 30th year working at the Portland Country Club. Boswell, 46, started in the bag room at 16. He became an assistant pro to head pros Jim Gillis, then Mo Guttman, before succeeding Guttman as the head pro 14 years ago.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: