November 21, 2010

Boys' Golf MVP: Peaking at that perfect time

By Tom Chard tchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

It was windy, it was cold, but Mike Arsenault of Gorham stuck to his game plan to win the Class A individual golf championship last month at Natanis Golf Course.

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Mike Arsenault of Gorham, who only has been playing golf for five years, shaved 11 strokes off his handicap over the past two years.

"My main goal was to get my tee shot in the fairway," said Arsenault. "Then I wanted to get the ball anywhere on the green. I kept giving myself birdie putts. I knew anything around par would be a great score."

Arsenault's strategy paid off with a par 72 and a five-shot victory. His round included an eagle 2 on a par 4, wedging in from 35 yards.

Arsenault's performances in the team and individual state championships made him the Maine Sunday Telegram MVP for boys' golf.

Arsenault, 17, a senior, had a quick rise from his freshman season, when he was new to the sport. Now he carries a 1-handicap at his home course, the Gorham Country Club.

Arsenault used the postseason to turn around what he felt was a so-so regular season.

"I don't think his play in the regular season was up to his standards," said Gorham Coach Rick Altham, the head pro at Gorham Country Club.

"He stepped up his game in the state championship and shot a great 78 in tough weather to help us win the states. Mike had one of the best rounds I've seen in the individual tournament, considering the conditions.

"He's worked really hard to get there. He was at the course every day in the summer when he wasn't working. He never missed a practice and was the first one there and the last to leave. He's only been playing golf for five years."

Over the last two years, Arsenault, a left-hander, shaved 11 strokes from his handicap.

"Through a lot of hard work," said Arsenault. "A lot of the credit goes to my coach. He broke down my swing and we used a lot of training aids at different stages."

Most schoolboy golfers would be happy with an 8-2 record in the regular season, but Arsenault knew his 40.0 stroke average should have been lower. He said he struggled early and his swing didn't feel right until the state tournament.

Playing with some of the top players in the Southern Maine Activities Association during qualifying for the state tournament gave Arsenault the confidence he could play with anyone in the state.

During the summer, he lost to Joe Walp of Deering, 1 up in 19 holes in the semifinals of the Maine Junior Championship. Walp went on to win the title.

"I think playing in tournaments last summer helped. I'm known as a pretty good ballstriker. My grandfather and father play golf. They bought me a set. I guess playing golf was meant to be," said Arsenault, who also plays baseball for the Rams.

Arsenault, who has been accepted at Methodist College in Fayetteville, N.C., plans to study golf management and hopes to work as a sales representative or in manufacturing for one of the top equipment companies. 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

tchard@pressherald.com

 

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