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Strong field competing for NH golf amateur title in Goffstown

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 12. 2014 7:58PM
An aerial view of Goffstown's Stonebridge Country Club, site of this year's New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship, as well as this year's Granite State stop on the LPGA Symetra Tour.COURTESY 

The past four winners of the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship are all back and looking for a second title.

The State Am opens Monday at 7 a.m. at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown.

The past four winners - Mike Martel (2013), Joe Leavitt (2012), Jim Cilley (2011) and Nick MacDonald (2010) - will tee off on Monday, as will several other former State Am champs. Former champs Dan Arvanitis (2001), Craig Steckowych (1998, 1990) and Phil Pleat (1997, 1985, 1981) are also in the mix.

"I feel like it's a strong field," said NHGA tournament director John Jelley. "I know Chelso Barrett and C.J. Konkowski are missing because they're playing in the U.S. Amateur Public Links, but it's just about all the other players you'd expect to be in it."

Additionally, former New Hampshire Junior champions James Pleat (2006) and Tom Hixon (2013) are in the field. Leavitt is also a former junior champion, having won in 2011.

"We have a lot of young guys in the field. My initial feeling was that we have more young players than in past years," Jelley said. "It's a wide-open range from veterans like Danny Arvanitis and Steckowych and Pleat down to 16 and 17 year-olds."

Many of the State Am champions are playing together. Steckowych, MacDonald and Martel will tee off together at 8:05 a.m. while Cilley, Leavitt and Phil Pleat tee off at 8:15.

There's another familiar name in the mix as well. Former University of New Hampshire and NHL goaltender Ty Conklin will be competing.

Martel has his work cut out for him. It's been almost two decades since there was a repeat champion. Bob Mielcarz was the last to do it in 1995-96.

"It's match play that makes it so hard," Jelley said. "It's kind of a dice roll when you get out there with all the things that can happen. It's proven to be tough."

With the long winter, the condition of the greens at courses throughout the state have been an issue, and Stonebridge is no different.

"The greens are coming back pretty well. They're not where we want them to be, but I think we'll be fine," Jelley said. "I'm happy with how everything is shaping up."

And not a moment too soon. In addition to hosting the State Am, Stonebridge also is the new Granite State stop on the LPGA's Symetra Tour, next month's New England Charity Classic.

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