COVID-19 outbreak forces changes to this week’s Maine Amateur Championship

The Maine golf industry was shut down in April by the state due to the coronavirus outbreak and fought to reopen in May.The adherence to safety guidelines led to this week’s Maine Amateur Championship being played at the Biddeford-Saco Country Club, but there are reminders everywhere that it is not normal championship golf.“Pretty lucky where we play a sport where it’s pretty easy to social distance. It’s not too hard to stay away from people. You can kind of be on your own out there,” defending champion Cole Anderson said.The social distancing changes at the golf course are subtle. Ordinarily when players putt in championships, they take the flag stick out. Now the flag remains in place and no one touches it.There is also a Styrofoam insert in the hole so players don’t have to reach deeply into the cup to take their ball out. The players also don’t have a caddie.‘’I miss, not being able to have a caddie. Kind of fun to have someone on the bag you can talk with and that way I can walk instead of riding,” 13-time champion Mark Plummer said.Anderson, a Camden Hills High School graduate, will be a sophomore at Florida State. He said he has seen friends miss out on playing sports.“I’m very grateful to have golf courses and be able to play and practice when I need to. It’s a blessing for sure,” Anderson said.With leisure activities impacting by COVID-19, golf is booming. The Maine State Golf Association reported in June that course activity is up 30% to 50% across the state.“Junior golf is up. Couples golf is up, and so that makes it really good. Unfortunate it took a pandemic to get growth in our sports, but the key is that people are playing,” MESGA Executive Director Brian Bickford said.

The Maine golf industry was shut down in April by the state due to the coronavirus outbreak and fought to reopen in May.

The adherence to safety guidelines led to this week’s Maine Amateur Championship being played at the Biddeford-Saco Country Club, but there are reminders everywhere that it is not normal championship golf.

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“Pretty lucky where we play a sport where it’s pretty easy to social distance. It’s not too hard to stay away from people. You can kind of be on your own out there,” defending champion Cole Anderson said.

The social distancing changes at the golf course are subtle. Ordinarily when players putt in championships, they take the flag stick out. Now the flag remains in place and no one touches it.

There is also a Styrofoam insert in the hole so players don’t have to reach deeply into the cup to take their ball out. The players also don’t have a caddie.

‘’I miss, not being able to have a caddie. Kind of fun to have someone on the bag you can talk with and that way I can walk instead of riding,” 13-time champion Mark Plummer said.

Anderson, a Camden Hills High School graduate, will be a sophomore at Florida State. He said he has seen friends miss out on playing sports.

“I’m very grateful to have golf courses and be able to play and practice when I need to. It’s a blessing for sure,” Anderson said.

With leisure activities impacting by COVID-19, golf is booming. The Maine State Golf Association reported in June that course activity is up 30% to 50% across the state.

“Junior golf is up. Couples golf is up, and so that makes it really good. Unfortunate it took a pandemic to get growth in our sports, but the key is that people are playing,” MESGA Executive Director Brian Bickford said.