The first step in qualifying for the men’s Maine Amateur Championship took place last week with the first of three qualifying tournaments. Thirty-five players qualified at Biddeford-Saco Country Club in Saco.

Thomas Spagnola of Portland Country Club and Tobey Buteau of Willowdale tied for the low round with 73s. There were five 74s – D.J. Honan, Craig Decato, Todd Kirn, Michael Walp and Travis Ferrante.

The cut was at 81.

The second qualifying tournament will be held Tuesday at Martindale in Auburn. Penobscot Valley will host the final qualifying tournament Thursday.

The Maine Amateur will have 132 players when the tournament starts July 8 at the Woodlands Club in Falmouth. Fifty-five players didn’t have to go through qualifying because they were already in the tournament, making the 36-hole cut from last year’s event at Augusta Country Club won by Ricky Jones. That left 77 slots open when qualifying started.

Nancy Storey, executive director of the Maine State Golf Association, said the course was in good condition for the qualifying tournament.

“The greens were fast but receptive to shots,” she said.

Storey also liked the pace of play. The opening twosome of Brian Angis and Chris Nappi played 18 holes in 2 hours, 50 minutes. They both shot 79. The final threesome played in 4 hours, 15 minutes. Any golf official would love those times. Times have a tendency to slow when a lot of players are on the course, but not in this instance. The bane of golf officials is the five-hour round.

Mike Doran, the MSGA’s director of player development and tournament administration, said the scores reflected the fact Biddeford-Saco played tough.

“I’m surprised the scores weren’t lower,” said Doran.

Last Thursday, Val Halla hosted 117 golfers in four age groups for the drive, chip and putt championship. It was the only Maine qualifier for the national championship, which was held for the first time at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, a week before the Masters.

Along with Maine golfers, there were juniors from Massachusetts, Vermont and Nova Scotia. The age groups were 7-9, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15. Three winners from each age division advanced to the next level of qualifying. Val Halla pro Brian Bickford was helped in the running of the competition by Waterville head pro Don Roberts and Winthrop recreation director and high school golf coach Lonnie Steeves.

Bickford said the longest drive within the grid was 268 yards.

“We had 20 percent more signups than last year,” said Bickford.

Tee to Green: Ron Dery and Randy Sawyer, both of Biddeford-Saco, captured the state’s Senior Four Ball Championship last week at Waterville. They combined for a best ball of 4-under 66. Jim VanFleet and Tim Smith were second with a 67. Three teams tied for third at 68.

Shawn Warren, Mike Dugas, John Hickson and Jeff Seavey are playing in the 47th PGA Professional National Championship starting Sunday in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The top 20 finishers qualify for the PGA Championship.

The state Club Team Championship, postponed from May, will be played today at Belgrade Golf Club.

The biggest golf news in the state in the last week? No doubt, the weather. The 80-degree temperatures allowed courses ravaged by the harsh winter to get back into good condition. Not every course is there, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at

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