Freeport High sophomore Eli Spaulding tees off during a regular-season match at Freeport Country Club. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Already one of the best young golfers in the state, Eli Spaulding got better this fall. Only a sophomore and with plenty of big tournament experience on his golf resumé, the Freeport High standout took apart the competition at the state championships in October en route to the Class B title, making Spaulding the easy choice for Varsity Maine Boys’ Golfer of the Year.

Spaulding was dominant while shooting a 4-under 68 at Natanis Golf Course’s Tomahawk course. His round included five birdies and just a single bogey, and he birdied three holes in a row on the back nine to pull away from the competition. He was the only player in the state, regardless of class, to break par at the state championships, and his margin of victory in Class B was nine strokes.

“That’s like winning a basketball game by 30 points,” said Jason Ouellette, Freeport’s golf coach. “Last summer really gave (Spaulding) some confidence as to what he could do as a golfer.”

Spaulding played in the Maine Amateur championship during the summer, tied for fourth place in the New England Junior Championship and won the state junior title. Playing at different courses helped Spaulding refine his game and learn to play under varied course conditions, he said. For example, faced with the same 50-yard shot with a downhill slope to a front pin at both Brunswick Golf Club and Freeport Country Club, where the Falcons practice and host matches, Spaulding will approach them differently.

At Brunswick, Spaulding said he’ll try to land his approach on the green, which is more likely to be in superb shape.

“At Freeport, that’s not going to happen. I’ll try to land it 10 yards in front of the green and let it roll up,” Spaulding said.

That’s what Spaulding did on the par-4 fifth hole at Natanis to make a par at the state championships. Spaulding’s approach to the game is something Ouellette has not seen in high school golfers before, he said.

Spaulding said he saw improvement in his control of wedge shots this fall, adding versatility to his game.

He also enjoyed helping his teammates improve over the course of the season.

“A few of them started out as beginners. I liked watching their eyes and smiles and getting to see how much they loved to play,” Spaulding said.

Added Ouellette: “He wants to do well, but he wants our team to do well, too. To have this kid who is going out and shooting par every day helping with their swing meant a lot (to the team).”

With two more seasons in his high school career, it’s a safe bet that Spaulding and Freeport will continue to improve.

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