Biddeford-Saco Country Club was the host of the 101st Maine Amateur Men’s Championship from July 7-9. Despite the prolonged drought the region is currently experiencing, the course was in the best condition it has been in for some time. Courtesy photo/Josh Pulsifer

SACO — In a summer almost devoid of sporting events, there was a recent bright spot for Mainers on the links. The 101st Maine Amateur Men’s Championship was held July 7-9 at Biddeford-Saco Country Club in Saco, where the best amateur golfers in Maine teed it up to determine the 2020 champion in unprecedented fashion due to COVID-19. Gone were the traditional handshakes after a round, pulling out the flag pins to sink a difficult putt, and having the advantage of a caddie to help with advice. But, for these small sacrifices on the course, golfers were more than willing to adapt to the new normal in order to compete in the most prestigious amateur event in Maine. And to top it off, Biddeford-Saco CC is in the midst of their centennial celebrations this season.

“For having it in our 100th year, it was really special to host such a prestigious event,” said Rick Altham, the PGA Golf Professional at BSCC. “The only thing that was a little bit different from year’s past was COVID-19, and the tournament was set up a little bit differently. We had pool noodles in the bottom of the cups so players could leave the flag pins in, and players were allowed to smooth out the bunkers and place their ball in the bunker. Other than that, the course was in great shape,” said Altham.

“John Dion (Course Superintendent) and his staff have done a phenomenal job getting the course ready this year, even with the drought we’ve been experiencing. The Club has seen more rounds played this year than we normally would at this time because our members are playing more golf than they ever have before, most likely because there are a limited number of things to do because of COVID-19. John has been here for over 30 years, and he is a phenomenal superintendent,” said Altham.

For Altham, one of the great aspects of hosting the Maine Amateur was seeing a large number of BSCC members compete for the Championship. “We had quite a few of our own members playing in the tournament, which was really great, and a lot of members were also volunteering during the tournament. It was special for the Club; the last day there had to be 200 people out watching, and all were social distancing. In a year when it’s tough to get out and watch sports, it seemed like a lot of people wanted to come out and follow the players around and get outside to watch it,” said Altham.

One of those players was BSCC member Joe Hamilton, who led all BSCC participants in the Championship by tying for sixth place out of a field of over 120 individuals. He scored 75-68-70 for a three-day total of 213 (E). “I am very proud to be the top finisher from our Club. We have so many good players at Biddeford-Saco CC. … There is no doubt that I have grown and improved as a player due to all of the talent at our Club,” said Hamilton.

Coming into the Championship with a home-course advantage, Hamilton was aware of the talent that he was going to be competing against. “The competition was the best I have ever seen in the Maine Am. I couldn’t believe how low the cut was after 36 holes. It seems like the younger guys just keep getting better and better each year.” It was one of those young players that won the tournament, 19-year old Cole Anderson of Samoset Resort. Anderson posted an impressive 71-67-65 for a three-day total of 203 (-10). Anderson defended his 2019 Maine Amateur Championship, and currently competes collegiately for Florida State University.

For Thornton Academy varsity golf coach Jeff Camire, competing in the Maine Amatuer Championship was not just about trying to win, but also being able to see his current and former players compete at the highest level in Maine. “It was pretty cool to hear people updating me on Armand Ouellette’s round as he was playing,” said Camire. Ouellette graduated from TA in June, and was the Golden Trojans’ top golfer this past season; Ouellette finished tied for 20th. “Not only was I competing in the tournament, I was also a fan at the same time. I also coached Jimmy Quentin, Brian Angis, and Zach Golojuch, who competed in the tournament, so it was rewarding to have them play alongside me as well. As a coach, there’s nothing better than having former players going on and competing at a high level,” said Camire.

At the end of the day, what made the Championship special for BSCC was the environment that has been created at the Club over the years. “There’s a big sense of community and a family atmosphere here, so it was great to compete in front of them,” said Camire.

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