CUMBERLAND, Maine — The Maine State Golf Association, the Southern Maine Women’s Golf Association and the Women’s Maine State Golf Association on Friday announced that the three organizations will merge operations, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

The newly-structured organization will operate as the Maine State Golf Association. By merging the three existing organizations, the MSGA will be better positioned to serve all golfers in the state, along with the member clubs that comprise the association. The merger was approved in early October after months of discussion by all three organizations.

“In 2016 the MSGA adopted a strategic plan which put forth the vision of the organization for the next five years,” said Joe Alvarez, president of the MSGA, in a release. “One of the key objectives was working to bring together the allied associations in the golfing community. We were excited to open conversations and come to an agreement with both the SMWGA and WMSGA to merge and work together for the good of the game.”

The three groups have long histories in Maine led by the MSGA, which has been in existence for 100 years. The WMSGA was founded in 1926 and the SMWGA in 1976, meaning the three organizations have 232 combined years of serving golfers in the state.

Though the two women’s associations have their own individual members, the promotion of women’s golf in Maine is always at the forefront of their operations. This is evidenced by the fact that in 2012 the two associations combined forces to create the Maine Women’s Amateur to crown one definitive state champion. Their promotion of women’s golf will remain important as they join forces with the MSGA.

Longtime WMSGA member Helen Plourd will put her collection of memorabilia and pictures on display for future generations at the Maine Golf Hall of Fame at the Poland Spring Resort.

“I’m very excited for this change,” said WMSGA president Vicki Lindquist in a statement. “I think that a combined effort of growing the game of golf in the state of Maine is a great thing. I’m excited about having more opportunities for the women in the state to play golf.”

The sentiments of expanded opportunities for Maine’s female golfers are shared as well by Michele Davis, president of the SMWGA.

“Change brings trepidation, but with that said, we’re excited about the merger,” said Davis. “There are tremendous opportunities all the way around for all of us to come together and really represent what it’s like to play golf all over the state, from Kittery to Fort Kent.”

The MSGA Board of Directors will reflect the integrated nature of the new association, with the SMWGA and WMSGA each appointing two female members to immediately serve in January when the merger becomes effective. A new women’s golf committee will be added to the existing list of committees the board maintains to ensure a smooth transition for the women.

The staffs of the three organizations will merge into one, with the MSGA home office remaining at its current location at Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland.

With a specialized staff of dedicated professionals, the MSGA will continue to promote junior golf, maintain their longstanding scholarship fund, conduct championships and social golf events, and provide handicapping and course rating services to players and clubs in all sixteen counties.

“The golf community in Maine is stronger today because these organizations have come together, and the future has never looked so bright,” said Alvarez.

All three organizations will operate independently for the remainder of the 2017 season.