Ricky Jones of Thomaston returned to the scene of one of his three Maine Amateur titles last weekend to find his winning form in a Maine State Golf Association weekly amateur.
Jones, who turns 42 on Sunday, shot a 69 at the Sanford Country Club to capture low gross with a 69. Jones had played in two other weekly amateurs, the season opener at Fox Ridge in Auburn and the next one at Brunswick Golf Club. He shot a pair of nondescript rounds for him – 77 and 76, respectively.
It was a slow start to the season for Jones, who usually comes out strong after a long winter.
With a full-time job and two children, Jones doesn’t get to golf in Florida during the winter like a lot of his competition. His first swings are when Maine courses open.
“I haven’t been playing much,” said Jones, who also won the Maine Open in 2006 at Fox Ridge. “I played early this week and I think it was my sixth and seventh rounds of the season. I’m just trying to get some consistency.”
Jones usually finds that consistency quickly. Last Tuesday in the 36-hole New England PGA Pro-Am Championship in Plymouth, Mass., Jones teamed with Samoset Resort assistant pro Jeff Seavey for the third straight year. They tied for 13th with a 5-under 139 after opening with a 66 that had them in second place. Jones said he had his best round of the year in that first round. He appears ready to defend the Paul Bunyan title he’s won five times. The 50th tourney will be played next Saturday and Sunday at Penobscot Valley in Orono and Kebo Valley in Bar Harbor.
As for his round at Sanford, Jones said: “I played solidly. I only missed a couple of greens in regulation.”
In 2004, Jones beat Cash Wiseman at Sanford in match play for the Maine Amateur. Jones won his first state amateur the year before at Penobscot Valley, also in match play, over Jay Livingston in the final. The tournament shifted to stroke play in 2005 at Boothbay with Jones finishing second. Jones won his third Maine Amateur last year at the Augusta Country Club.
Jones and his wife have been watching their daughter and son play sports. Chloe, a seventh grader, is a pitcher for the Oceanside Middle School softball team. Their son, Rhys, is a third-grader and active in sports, just like his sister.
“I coach travel basketball so there was no chance to get away,” said Jones.
Last Thursday was sunny with temperatures in the 60s. A nice day to play or hit balls after work. Jones, who works as a controller for the cement maker Dragon Products, watched his daughter play softball.
“Her team has had a lot of postponements with the weather this spring,” said Jones. “Whenever it’s sunny, her team plays.”
By the time tournament season arrives, Jones’ game should be in top form. He has another busy tournament schedule ahead with participation in the Maine Amateur, the Maine Open, U.S. Amateur and Mid-Amateur qualifying, the club team championship and “hopefully the state team,” he said. The top three male amateurs, based on a point system, comprise Maine’s entry in the USGA state team tournament.
BANGOR MUNICIPAL Golf Course opened in 1964. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, a series of events are planned. The first happened April 23, opening day, when the opening tee shots were struck by Bob Reynolds, who has been a course member since 1964; Marilyn Rice, the daughter of Fred Rice, who was one of the people instrumental in getting the course started; and the Bangor council chairman, Ben Sprague.
This Sunday there will be a family day where families come to the course from 2 to 5 p.m. and enjoy games for kids, chipping and putting clinics, a free short round of golf and other festivities.
The course will have an open house June 14. A local radio station will broadcast from the course. A PGA professional, Rob Jarvis, will do a free clinic at 2 p.m. Jarvis and a fellow Bangor professional, Brian Enman, will host a free clinic for veterans at 3 p.m. It will be the first of four clinics for veterans throughout the season. Active duty and retired military are welcome. To sign up, call 941-0232.
Bangor Muni is taking reservations for the First Tee junior golf program. Kids ages 7-14 are eligible for the summerlong program for 80.
There are two sessions. One is for students who graduated from the first level last year, the second is for kids ages 4-6, the “Little Putters.” The program is five weeks and costs $50.
Bangor will offer a wine and nine starting June 12. Players can play nine holes, then enjoy a wine social in the course’s Grill on the Green restaurant. The golf will be a league-style format with creative games geared toward beginners and novice players.
TEE TO GREEN: The 50th Paul Bunyan tournament will have a field of 201 players when it opens next Saturday at Penobscot Valley and Kebo Valley. Class A players will open at Penobscot Valley while Class B will play Kebo in the first round. The field will swap courses for the final round. Besides Jones, other low handicap players in the tournament will be Casey Catell, Len Cole, Ben Estabrook, Sam Grindle, Ray Hawley, Thomas Kus, Steve Lycette, Gary Manoogian, Ralph Michaud, Jack Wyman, Jason Harvey, Greg Martin and Andrew Stonehouse.
In the first Exotics Tour tournament of the season May 21, Rich Berberian of Windham, N.H., won the $3,300 prize with a 7-under 63 at Bath Golf Club. Ryan Gay of Pittston and Jeff Seavey of Samoset tied for second with 66. The Exotics Tour, sponsored by Harris Golf of Bath and presented by Nike Golf, will have five tourneys, culminating with a Tour Championship on Oct. 1 at Old Marsh in Wells. The winner receives $15,000. The next tournament is June 19 at Penobscot Valley.
At last week’s MSGA weekly amateur, Charlie Tartre of Falmouth aced the 185-yard 16th hole at Sanford. Tarte used a 6-iron and was playing with Dave Luce, Gary Manoogian and Jamie Donaldson. The next day, in the same tournament, Matt Ouellette of Auburn hit a wedge into the 115-yard 13th hole at Sanford. It was witnessed by Gordon Ross, Topper West and Ben Hoisington.
Deadlines for the following MSGA championships are: Father and Son, June 3; Maine Amateur, June 5; Senior Four-Ball, June 5; and Club Team Championship, June 12. Email: [email protected]
Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass., will host the USGA Senior Open from June 29-July 2, 2017. Salem hosted the 2001 U.S. Senior Open won by Bruce Fleisher.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at