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As Maine's competitive golf season arrives, courses are seeing a growing interest in the sport

Qualifying rounds for the 2020 Maine Amateur Championship start next week at four locations around the state.

BANGOR, Maine — The spring of 2020 may be remembered as the 'Spring that never Sprung' for athletes involved in team sports. The coronavirus pandemic canceled all little league seasons, youth soccer games, and any spring sport played at the high school level.

While baseball, lacrosse, soccer, and track and field athletes are missing their team sports seasons, golfers are playing as usual.

Brian Bickford is the Executive Director of the Maine State Golf Association. He said most courses in Maine have seen a 30-50% growth and seen a large number in junior and golf memberships added this year.

“Parents are looking for something safe and socially distant that their juniors can play, and golf is one of those great options," Bickford said.

Another reason for the growth of the sport is the socially distant nature of golf.

“The safety mechanisms that are already built into the sport,” he added.

The Maine Amateur Championship has four qualifying sites at Willowdale Golf Club in Scarborough, Brunswick Golf Course, Poland Spring Golf Course in Poland, and Bangor Municipal Golf Course.

More than 300 golfers will try to qualify for the 76 spots in the championship field. 52 players are exempt from last year's event.

Credit: NCM

The championship will be played from July 7th through the 9th at Biddeford-Saco Country Club.

Rob Jarvis is the Head Professional at Bangor Municipal, which is hosting a qualifying round for the first time. He said it is great for the course and the city to host a highly competitive event.

“Hopefully (hosting the qualifier is) the first step in having the actual full Maine amateur in the future which is what our end goal is," Jarvis added.

RELATED: What to do about competitive play is the biggest worry for Maine golf courses

Jarvis said the course has been busy since it opened last month.

“We’ve actually had an increase in family memberships this year," Jarvis said. “We’re really going to try to do out best and make sure the kids have some activities to do at the golf course.”

Credit: NCM

Another key factor for the success of not just Bangor Muni, but every golf course is the recent weather.

"The course is super playable right now, everyone seems to be enjoying it and it really bodes well for the rest of the season where we could put some great practices in and make it even better throughout the year," Jarvis said.

No baseball, hockey, or basketball on television may be upsetting for some sports fans but its helping grow the game of golf. 

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