Atkinson's Leavitt will return to defend title in NH Golf Association's 110th State Amateur Tournament
THE JOURNEY to the New Hampshire Golf Association's 110th State Amateur starts in just over a week at the Sagamore-Hampton Golf Course and weaves through Rochester and Amherst and assorted other stops on the way to the Golf Club of New England in Stratham.
John Jelley, the NHGA's tournament director, expects about 300 of the state's best golfers to attempt to qualify for this year's State Am at a half dozen sites over the next several weeks.
Spots are still available at four of the six qualifiers for anyone with a 9.0 handicap index or lower and willing to fork over $110. There is no additional fee into the State Am for golfers who qualify.
Joe Leavitt of Atkinson is one of about 40 players who are exempt and do not need to qualify their way in.
He won last year's championship and looks forward to defending his title in the event, which runs from July 8-13 at the Golf Club of New England.
"I like being considered one of the top dogs going in," Leavitt said. "It's going to be tough. But it's nice to have people gunning for you. You know you're doing something right."
Leavitt shot a 141 in medal play last year at Concord Country Club, tying him with Bob Landry of the Loudon Country Club as runnerup, a stroke behind nine-time winner and host club member Bob Mielcarz.
Leavitt beat Chris Houston in the quarterfinals, Ryan Friel in the semis and D.J. Lantz of Lake Sunapee in the finals to win his first championship.
He will try to become the first repeat champion since Mielcarz won back to back titles in 1995 and 1996.
Leavitt likes the Golf Club of New England and thinks it fits his style.
"It's a real good test," he said. "It's difficult. I'm pretty long and it's a long course. I think it's going to be a young guns tournament."
Leavitt is just back from his freshman year at Florida Southern College, a Div. II school in Lakeland, but is transferring to the University of Rhode Island. There he'll team up with one of his buddies, Nick Fairweather of Windham, who will also be a sophomore on the team in the fall.
"I just got homesick," Leavitt said. "I was homesick the whole year. Rhode Island has a good golf team and it's a nice campus. I'm pretty excited about it."
The State Am will have a field of about 136-144, Jelley said.
The first qualifier is at Sagamore-Hampton on May 15 and others follow at Rochester Country Club on May 22, Souhegan Woods in Amherst on May 28, Montcalm Golf Course in Enfield on June 11, Concord Country Club on June 17 and Canterbury Woods on June 18.
"Anywhere from 10 to 15 golfers will get in from each site," Jelley said.
The Concord and Montcalm qualifiers were limited to 36 golfers and are full. The others have 72 spots and have openings.
There is also a qualifier for juniors only, on June 24, which is run in conjunction with the Junior Championship at Scott Highlands.
Looking a little further ahead?
The 2014 State Amateur will be at the Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown.
More information is available at www.nhgolfassociation.org.
The New Hampshire Women's Golf Association Women's State Championship is set for July 30-Aug. 1 at Nashua Country Club.
The NHWGA will hold its Junior Girls' Championship on June 27 at Intervale Country Club in Manchester. Junior girls, those under the age of 18 as of the date of the tournament, will compete in one of eight divisions.
There are four divisions for golfers from age 5-11. The Munchkin and Cricket divisions play a shortened layout of five or seven holes. The Pee Wee and Mini divisions play nine shortened holes.
Golfers in the junior and senior divisions, ages 11-17, also compete in one of four divisions and play nine or eighteen holes, depending on their ability.
Entry fee is $10 and the application deadline is June 11.
More information is available at www.nhwga.org.