When Bangor Municipal Golf Course pro Rob Jarvis and Kebo Valley Club pro Peiter DeVos put together the Downeast Metro Amateur Golf Tournament seven years ago, they were hoping it would grow and become one of the state’s premier tournaments.
It appears that they have achieved their goal.
The seventh annual Downeast Metro Amateur will have its largest field ever when the 54-hole affair is held Saturday and Sunday at Bangor Municipal Golf Course and the Kebo Valley Golf Club in Bar Harbor.
The golf professionals had to close off tourney registration at 175 golfers, eclipsing the previous high of 140.
“This was the point we hoped it would get to … having to close registrations early,” DeVos said. “We’re excited to have such a large field.”
Jarvis is equally pleased and said he isn’t surprised by the turnout.
“I thought we would eventually get to this point,” Jarvis said. “It just takes time to build steam.
DeVos noted that the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down many sports and recreational activities last year, has greatly benefitted the sport because golf lent itself to social distancing for people seeking safe outdoor activities.
“Golf is booming,” DeVos said.
The A and B flights will tee off at Kebo Valley in Bar Harbor on Saturday and conclude Sunday at Bangor Muni. The C and D flights will play Bangor Muni first and then move to Kebo Valley.
Jarvis and DeVos said their courses are in excellent condition despite the drought-like conditions stemming from a lack of rain and the low snowfall totals last winter.
“The course is firmer [than usual] but it is in great shape. The rough is up because we’re preparing for the Maine Amateur,” said DeVos, who was chosen the Maine golf pro of the year for 2020.
Kebo Valley is hosting the Maine Amateur July 13-15 and Bangor Muni will be the site of the Maine Women’s Amateur set for July 19-21.
“The course is playing really well. It’s a really good setup for the weekend,” Jarvis said, mentioning that Bangor Muni receives regular watering.
There have been six different winners of the Downeast Metro Amateur. This year, the defending champion and two other winners are teeing off together in a threesome.
Defending champ Reese McFarlane of Cape Elizabeth is playing with 2017 winner John Hayes IV, also from Cape Elizabeth. McFarlane and Hayes are both former winners of the Maine Amateur and McFarlane also won the New England Amateur.
They will be joined by Portland’s Joe Walp.
McFarlane shot a 139 a year ago, just one shot off Gavin Dugas’ tournament record, to edge Drew Powell of Holden by a shot.
Hayes shot a 146 and finished fourth a year ago and Walp’s 148 tied him for fifth.
Caleb Manuel of Topsham is making his Downeast Metro debut. He is coming off a memorable freshman season at the University of Connecticut during which he helped lead the Huskies to the Big East Tournament championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Manuel finished fourth in the Big East tournament in Bowling Green, Florida, with a 1-under 215. He shot a 66 in the second round that tied him for the third lowest score in Big East tourney history and was named to the all-tourney team.
Manuel was the Big East Freshman of the Year and a first-team All-Big East selection and was also an All-Northeast Region choice. His per-round average of 72.5 led the Huskies.
Manuel won the Maine Junior Amateur last year with a double eagle on the last hole, firing a tournament-record 133 over two days. He finished third in the New England Amateur.
Len Cole, who won the Downeast Metro in 2018, also is in this year’s field.