The field is set for the 95th men’s Maine Amateur Championship, which will be played July 8-10 at the Woodlands Club in Falmouth.

“The golf course is in great shape,” said Doug Van Wickler, Woodlands’ director of golf.

“The course was starting to get firm and fast before we had the downpour last week. We’re hoping the weather will cooperate over the next week and we can get the course back to firm and fast.

“Ron Brown Jr., who was a founding member, told me the golf course was in the best shape he’s seen it in 15 years.”

Many courses in New England suffered winter kill on their greens. Some are still recovering. During a thaw in January, Woodlands snowplowed the greens, chopped the ice up and removed it by hand. Then they vacuumed the excess water. The club’s proactive approach could be the reason their greens are in such fine condition now. Other courses had similar approaches, but didn’t fare as well for whatever reasons.

“We did what we could,” said Van Wickler. “I think luck plays a part in it.”

For the tournament, the greens could be as fast as the Maine State Golf Association wants them, but Wickler speculated that the green speed for the tournament will be from 10 to 11 on the Stimpmeter.

Anything faster could cause some real havoc with the 132-player field as Woodlands’ greens are large with plenty of slope to them. Above the hole, those 10 to 11 Stimpmeter readings become more like a 12 or a 13.

The Woodlands is hosting its second Maine Amateur. The course hosted the tournament in 1999, which was won by homeclubber Brown. Brown now plays out of the Portland Country Club and is in the tournament as a multiple champion.

Ricky Jones of Thomaston is back to defend his title. Jones won his third state amateur last year at the Augusta Country Club. Jones won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004 when the championship was match play.

There are several players who have the game to navigate the challenging Woodlands layout. One of them is John Hayes IV of Cape Elizabeth, who recently completed his college golf career at the University of Colorado. Last weekend, Hayes played in the prestigious, invitation-only Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett CC in Rumford, Rhode Island, for the first time. He tied for 23rd with rounds of 72-76-69-68–285. Stewart Jolly of Birmingham, Alabama won the tournament with rounds of 67-67-69-71–274. Some of the past champions of the Northeast Amateur include Dustin Johnson, Anthony Kim, David Duval, Scott Hoch and Ben Crenshaw – who went on to play in the PGA Tour.

Hayes, who also has residency in Rhode Island, was the top finisher in the tournament from that state. He captured the Rhode Island Stroke Play Championship last summer.

Hayes tied for 14th in last year’s Maine Amateur. In 2012 he tied for fifth at Sunday River and tied for 11th in 2011 at the Portland Country Club.

Hayes played a practice round at The Woodlands on Friday with 20 other Maine Amateur contestants. He said he will see how he plays this summer before deciding if he wants to turn pro.

“I really want to qualify for the U.S. Amateur this summer,” said Hayes.

Another player to watch in the Maine Amateur is Tommy Stirling of Gorham, who finished second last year, two shots behind Jones.

Tee to Green: The youngest player in the Maine Amateur will be 15-year-old Carter Pearl of Newport. There are 11 players age 17 and under in the tournament. Robbie Watson, 16, of Fort Fairfield has the longest trek to play in the tournament.

The oldest player in the tournament is Lowell Watson, 68, of Boothbay. Truman Libby of Brunswick is also 68, but is four months younger than Watson.

David Kroll, the former superintendent at The Woodlands, shot an 81 in qualifying at Martindale CC in Auburn to get into the tournament. Kroll was in the last group of the day. His score knocked out all the 82s who are alternates. Kroll, 65, is another player in his 60s in the tournament.

According to the Maine State Golf Association, the median age of the players in the tournament is 34.

Monica Austin of Yarmouth qualified for the second year in a row in the girls’ division of the Big I state qualifier by shooting an 80 at Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport last week. Gavin Dugas of Pittsfield was the low qualifier for the boys, shooting an even par 69. Both players have qualified for the National Championship to be held Aug. 5-8 at the Pete Dye Club in Bridgeport, West Virginia.

The 14th annual Maine Chapter National Football Foundation golf tournament will be held July 7 at the Belgrade Lakes Golf Club, beginning at 1 p.m. with a shotgun start. Registration is at noon. Tournament proceeds go to the Chapter’s Scholarship Fund, the membership drive and to support the many programs that promote amateur football in Maine. The cost is $120 for an individual and it’s $100 to be a hole sponsor. Checks should payable to State of Maine Chapter, NFF. Send checks to Marty Ryan, P.O. Box 676, Wells, ME 04090. For more information, contact Ryan at 646-7352 or at [email protected]

Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at

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