YORK — Joe Baker had a plan going into the first round of the 97th Maine Amateur golf tournament at the York Golf & Tennis Club: Don’t screw up.

“The first round is the toughest one,” said Baker, who lives in Oxford and plays out of Martindale Country Club. “You can’t win it, but you can definitely lose it. I wanted to be within five shots (of the leader).”

Well, Baker, 30, did a little better than he hoped – he is the leader. After he bogeyed the first hole, Baker did little else wrong, getting five birdies on the day. His 2-under 68 was the only sub-par round of the day – a fact that surprised many of the golfers.

“I was bummed when I finished,” said Reese McFarland, of Cape Elizabeth and Purpoodock, after his first-round 1-over 71. “Now I’m looking at the leader board and it’s not bad.”

No it isn’t. There is a group of five golfers tied at even-par 70, including three who played in the same group: Ricky Jones of Samoset, Ashley Fifield of Sable Oaks and Gavin Dugas of J.W. Parks Golf Course in Pittsfield. The others were Mike Doran of Sable Oaks and Luke Ruffing of Belgrade Lakes.

There were three golfers tied at 1-over 71 and a cluster at 2-over 72, including defending champion John Hayes IV of Cape Elizabeth and Purpoodock, 13-time champ Mark Plummer of Augusta and 19-year-old Matt Hutchins of Falmouth and The Woodlands, who has been playing extremely well this summer and is considered one of the favorites.

“It’s a tight leaderboard,” said James Frost Jr. of Windham and Val Halla, who shot a 71, as did Lance Bernier of Boothbay Harbor.

Tricky greens, temperatures reaching the low 90s and a tricky wind that popped up occasionally to confound the golfers added to the scores. Several golfers especially struggled with Nos. 16 and 17, including Hayes, who double-bogeyed 16 and bogeyed 17 to go from a 1 under to 2 over.

“The 16th green was incredibly treacherous,” said Hayes. “I actually thought I played pretty well until the last three when I blew up everything. But that’s golf. It happens.”

Plummer similarly struggled on 16 and 17, bogeying both. But he birdied 18 with a 15-foot putt to get back to 2-over.

“That took a little of the pain out,” said the 64-year-old Plummer. “The first day you just want to kind of keep in there … I’d have taken (a 72) this morning before I teed off.”

Most golfers expect the scores to be lower on Wednesday, when the field will be cut to 40 (plus ties) for Thursday’s final. But Doran said you shouldn’t underestimate this course.

“The greens can be tough if you get in the wrong places,” he said. “It is scoreable if you can get off the tee. If you can hit it any ways off the tee you can have wedges to a lot of these greens. And if you’re hitting those well, you can have birdie putts.”

That’s a lot of ifs. And it seemed on Tuesday that golfers were having trouble putting the ball in good spots on several greens. Those who were able to are at the top of the leaderboard.

Among them is McFarlane, a 19-year-old heading to the University of Carolina-Wilmington. He flirted with par until he had back-to-back bogeys on 14 and 15, but then sank a birdie on 18 to get back to 1 over.

“I feel like I’m in a good place going into tomorrow,” he said. “I try not to have too many expectations going into a tournament like this, just try to go out and take it one shot at a time. Obviously it’s always good to put up a good number on the first day and I think 71 is a good number.”

Hutchins, whose family moved back to Maine last year and who is heading to UCLA to play golf as a sophomore, was also pleased with his round. And, like pretty much everyone else, he hopes to improve his score on Wednesday.

“I was just getting used to the course, going out there and hitting one shot at a time,” he said. “I’ll work on a couple of things after today’s round and hopefully take it lower tomorrow.”

Baker, who teed off with the fourth group on Tuesday, knows he can’t let up.

“It’s three rounds,” he said. “Anything can happen.”