DANNY ARVANITIS said the golf course at North Conway Country Club hasn’t changed much since he won the New Hampshire Golf Association’s Amateur Championship there in 2001. That means we can probably expect some aggressive play and an abundance of birdie opportunities when the 118th State Am is held at North Conway from July 12-17.
North Conway isn’t a long course — 6,611 yards from the black tees — but Arvanitis, a member at Derryfield Country Club, said it can be tricky in spots.
“It’s pretty open, but there are some trees that could bother you,” Arvanitis said. “For the most part, the way these kids are these days, they’re going to be going into a lot of holes with wedges. The younger players are going to be going in with sand wedges. If the older guys have to go in with 9-irons or 8-irons, so be it.”
The State Am features two days of stroke play, followed by a cut to the low 64 scores. The tournament format switches to match play after that, with one round on Wednesday, two on Thursday and two more on Friday. Saturday’s championship match is scheduled for 36 holes.
“I think the qualifying is going to be somewhat low,” Arvanitis said. “Maybe 152, 153. Medalist is probably going to be anywhere from 5-under to 8-under, I would think. It has some tricky greens and if the pins are put tough, that might reduce the scoring. For the most part, it’s pretty short for the kids.”
There are 10 past champions in this year’s field, including nine-time champion Bob Mielcarz of Concord CC, and Nashua CC’s James Pleat, who won last year’s State Am on his home course. Mielcarz, 71, is the oldest player in the field.
In addition to Arvanitis, the other past champions are Mark Stevens (Beaver Meadow GC), John DeVito (Passaconaway CC), Joe Leavitt (Atkinson Resort and CC), Jim Cilley (Beaver Meadow GC), Phil Pleat (Nashua CC), Matt Burroughs (Derryfield CC) and Craig Steckowych (Portsmouth CC).
Will Huang (Golf Club of NE) and 14-year-old Josiah Hakala (Beaver Meadow GC) are among the other notables in the field. Huang, who attended Phillips Exeter Academy, will play golf at Stanford in the fall.
“Although tree-lined, there is not a lot of trouble to deter players from hitting driver off most of the tees,” North Conway head professional Kevin Walker said in an email. “This sets up nicely for the long hitters who will have short irons and wedges in their hands and the par 4s and can reach the par 5s with two good shots. There will be no shortage of birdies during the week, which makes the layout ideal to host this type of championship
“The fifth hole has the ability to be played as a slight dog-legged hole along the Saco River or, if the tournament committee chooses, can be shortened to a drivable par 4 that could make for some interesting decisions during match play.”
Walker said the par-4 14th hole is the course’s featured hole.
“Hole 14 is a long (454 yards) par 4 who’s tee is framed by trees on both sides and looks straight at Mt. Cranmore in the distance,” he said. “The approach shot requires precise yardage calculation, as the green is elevated as well as two-tiered. Even the most talented players are happy to walk away with a par.”
If more players do opt for an aggressive approach over playing it safe at North Conway, the entertainment level for this year’s tournament could be dialed up, especially during match play.
The 61 Rob Oppenheim shot during the 2005 New Hampshire Open remains the course record.
“For the most part you have to shoot at the pins — go right at the pins,” Arvanitis said. “Sometimes you play for the fat of the greens, or hit it on the side of the green where you’ll have a better putt, but some of these holes where you’re using a lot of wedges you gotta shoot right for those pins. As long as you keep the ball straight, you’re not getting off the fairways under trees or something, then you could make a lot of birdies.
“I could be wrong, but I just think the scoring will be pretty good. And that’s not to take away from the golf course. It’s a great place to go and have an Am. It’s really a nice spot.”
Florida native Dree Fausnaugh, a member at Pease Golf Course, won this year’s New England Women’s Amateur Championship, which was held Tuesday through Thursday at the Agawam Hunt Club in Rumford, R.I.
Fausnaugh, who golfed at Central Florida University, shot a 3-under-par 210 to finish one stroke ahead of Mia Grzywinski, who was representing the Country Club of Farmington (Conn.). Windham CC’s Lauren Thibodeau earned sole possession of third with a 217.
New Hampshire had two other golfers finish in the top 25: Derryfield Country Club’s Tara Watt tied for 19th (241), and Cochecho Country Club’s Carys Fennessy tied for 22nd at 243.
Rules Question: During stroke play, a golfer finishes a hole and then practices putting on the next tee area while waiting for the group ahead to clear the fairway. What is the ruling? (Continue reading for the answer.)
Nashua resident Brandon Gillis finished first in last weekend’s Lowell (Mass.) City Golf Tournament, which was held at Long Meadow Golf Club in Tewksbury, Mass.
Gillis, a member of the University of Rhode Island golf team, was representing Nabnasset Lake Country Club in Westford, Mass. He finished the tournament with a three-round total of 218 to post a one-stroke victory over 59-year-old George Popp, a former hockey player at UMass Lowell.
ICYMI: Winnacunnet High School graduate Ryan Quinn overcame a slow start to win last weekend’s Seacoast Amateur Golf Championship by nine strokes.
Quinn opened the three-day tournament by shooting an 80 at Abenaqui Country Club, but followed that up with a 3-under-par 68 Saturday at Breakfast Hill Golf Club (his home course) and a 2-under-par 68 during Sunday’s final round at Portsmouth Country Club.
Quinn was a captain on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute golf team that qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time this year.
Semifinal pairings for the NHGA Senior and Mid-Amateur Match-Play Championship, which will be held Aug. 9 at Lake Sunapee Country Club:
Craig Steckowych (Portsmouth CC) vs. Tony Fournier (Portsmouth CC)
Bob Mielcarz (Concord CC) vs. Bill Everett (Laconia CC)
Phil Moore (Canterbury Woods GC) vs. Derek Dinwoodie (Farmington CC)
Zach Melcher (Hanover CC) vs. Richard Dichard (Souhegan Woods GC)
Answer to rules question: There is no penalty. In between holes, you are permitted to practice your putting on or near the green of the last hole played and the teeing area of the next hole (Rule 5.5b).
Source: USGA Rules of Golf.
New Hampshire Golf Calendar
July 6-7: Junior All-Star Championship (Mt. Washington Resort GC)
July 8: Junior Tour (Candia Woods)
July 12-17: NHGA Amateur Championship (North Conway CC)
July 19-21: Mike Ryan Memorial Championship (Derryfield CC)
July 20-22: New England Amateur (Great River Golf Club/Milford, Conn.)
July 22: Junior Tour (Keene CC)
July 26: Junior Tour (Breakfast Hill GC)
July 27: Junior Tour (Loudon CC)
Aug. 2-4: Junior Championship (Pease GC)
Aug. 2-4: NHWGA Amateur Championship (Laconia CC)
Aug. 15-17: New England Junior Amateur (Val Halla Golf Course/Cumberland, Maine)
Aug. 19: Junior Invitational (TBA)
Sept. 14-15: New England Senior Amateur (Manchester Country Club/Manchester, Vt.)