MANCHESTER — Ruby Haylock knows the Augusta Country Club golf course well.

Just a few weeks ago, she won the Maine Women’s Amateur title at Augusta. When she played the course Wednesday morning in the first round of the Maine Event, though, the course felt… different. The same, but a little off.

“It seemed a lot further than the Women’s Am,” Haylock said after shooting a 4-over 76 to build a four-stroke cushion over the closest woman in the field, which features the top amateur and pro golfers – regardless of gender – in the state. “I’m not disappointed with it. I feel like I missed a ton of putts, and I hit the pin twice and it popped out.”

The second and final round of the tournament is Thursday at Waterville Country Club. The only reason the tournament exists is because the Maine State Golf Association was forced to cancel this summer’s Charlie’s Maine Open. Since more than half the field of the Maine Open is typically out-of-state golfers who would be subject to the state’s coronavirus quarantine, the Maine Open simply wasn’t feasible this year.

Amateur John Gilmartin held the top spot on the leaderboard Wednesday, finishing with a 3-under 67. Caleb Manuel, who won the Maine Junior title earlier this summer, was right behind at 2-under 68. Jeff Seavey of Rockport was third after a 69. Falmouth Country Club pro Shawn Warren and Will Kannegieser, the winner of last week’s Match Play Championship, each shot an even-par 70, while Mark Plummer, who has a record 13 Maine Amateur titles, carded a 6-over 76.

“It’s the Maine Event, not the Maine Open this year, so it’s new,” Manuel said. “It’s still fun because we have some pros. It’s like the Maine Am, but not as much hype because it’s a last-minute thing, but it’s pretty cool. …


“I’ve played at Waterville in the (Maine Amateur) when I was 13 and I played last year in a practice round. I’ve heard it’s in great shape and it’s the best they’ve seen it in a couple years.”

Given the interest that the Maine Event has stirred, with the state’s best male and female golfers gathered together, the question is: Why didn’t anybody think of this sooner?

“Like Brian (Bickford, executive director of the Maine State Golf Association) said, (it’ll be) the best golfer in Maine, pros and amateurs. You don’t get that many opportunities to find that out,” said Manuel, a recent Mt. Ararat High graduate who will play golf at the University of Connecticut.

Manuel has developed a flair for dramatic finishes this summer. He won the junior title with an albatross on the final hole. Wednesday, Manuel eagled 18 to finish his round at 2-under.

In a field stocked with experienced professional golfers, Manuel, one of the youngest amateurs in the tournament, went into the clubhouse as the leader.

“It’s so nice to finish strong. I knew the last five (holes) were gettable. I didn’t take advantage of any of them until the last one. I’m happy with a 68. There’s some tricky pins out there. I’ll take the 68,” Manuel said.


“You know there’s veterans out here, pros, especially Shawn Warren, who just played in the PGA Championship. That’s just a whole another couple levels above what we’re used to playing in.”

Warren was supposed to play with Manuel and Bailey Plourde, who won the Women’s Amateur two years ago. His recent trip to San Francisco for the PGA Championship meant Warren had to take a coronavirus test, however, so his tee time was pushed back to the afternoon.

The coed nature of the tournament led to interesting groups. Haylock played with Cole Anderson, winner of the last two Maine Amateur titles, and Plummer, the gold standard for Maine golf.

Playing with the men didn’t bother Haylock. Golf is golf.

“I don’t like to put pressure on myself. I came out open minded and excited. I like playing with guys. It’s completely different than playing with girls in my opinion. Now playing with guys gives me a new opportunity. They can hit it a lot further. For women who can’t hit it as far, it comes down to their short game. For men who can hit it a lot further, it all comes into play,” Haylock said.

Throughout the round, neither Haylock nor Anderson had a bigger cheerleader than Plummer, who congratulated each on good shots and loudly urged their putts to find the hole.


“Mark’s a really great guy. He’s a lot of fun to play with. When I got my membership at Augusta, we were talking about how we have to come out and play together sometime,” Haylock said. “We never ended up making it happen between then and now, but I’m glad we finally got to play together.”

Ruby Haylock hits out of a bunker onto the 18th green during the opening round of the Maine Event on Wednesday at Augusta Country Club in Manchester. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Someday soon, the MSGA should name a tournament after Plummer. Maine Event is fine, but it feels more like a pun than a name. It feels like a placeholder name for a tournament that was put together quickly to fill a void, which it was. That said, this is a tournament that could have staying power, like Plummer, who won the first of his 13 Maine Amateur crowns in 1973. The Maine Event is a celebration of Maine golf, and no other player epitomizes that more than Plummer.

Are you playing in the Plummer this year? See, it has a nice ring to it.

Born of necessity and opportunity, after one round it’s safe to say the Maine Event is a hit. Who’s the best golfer in Maine? Let’s find out every year.

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