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Friday, July 18, 2014

New Hampshire State Am golfers need to stop complaining

George Scione

Enough about the greens already. That was all the talk heading into Monday’s opening round of play at the New Hampshire Golf Association’s 111th State Amateur Championship.

Ryan Kohler, Damon Salo and Nicholas Pandelena certainly proved a slow green can be played just as effectively as any perfectly prepared and luscious green. All three shot rounds of five-under par during the 36-hole qualifying on Monday and Tuesday at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown. ...

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Enough about the greens already. That was all the talk heading into Monday’s opening round of play at the New Hampshire Golf Association’s 111th State Amateur Championship.

Ryan Kohler, Damon Salo and Nicholas Pandelena certainly proved a slow green can be played just as effectively as any perfectly prepared and luscious green. All three shot rounds of five-under par during the 36-hole qualifying on Monday and Tuesday at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown.

Atkinson Resort and Country Club’s Pandelena led after Day One, firing a six-under 66. Bretwood Golf Club’s Salo was right behind with a 67. On Day Two it was Kohler, of Hooper Golf Club, equaling Pandelena’s low round. For Kohler, who opened with an even-par 72 on Day One, translated into him earning the honor of tournament medalist.

The three weren’t alone in putting up good numbers during stroke play.

There were eight other golfers on the course who shot under par on Day One, including Merrimack native Josh Chamberlain, a member of the host course, who posted a three-under 69. A trio of golfers – Laconia Country Club’s Chris Houston, Lake Sunapee Country Club’s Chris Durocher and Indian Mound Golf Club’s John DeVito – shot two-under 70. Defending champion Michael Martel, of New Ipswich and Crotched Mountain Golf Club, led a foursome of golfers at one-under 71 – which included Derryfield Country Club’s Matthew Paradis, Pembroke Pines Country Club’s Jim Cilley and Newport Golf Club’s Michael Killam. That’s 10 golfers shooting under par on “horrible greens” during opening round qualifying action.

It would have been 11, but Kolher could only manage to – gasp – shoot even par on Day One. He was one of nine to break even, which included the Nashua Country Club quartet of Rob Zimmerman Jr., Ryan Brogan, Phil Pleat and James Pleat, as well as The Overlook’s Ryan Friel.

Not bad so bad for playing on such awful greens.

Day Two was just as bad, I guess. Kohler led the day with his 66, but was followed closely Paradis, Portsmouth Country Club’s Craig Steckowych and Windham Country Club’s Connor Greenleaf with four-under 68s. Martel had another pitiful round, shooting a three-under 69, while Atkinson Resort and Country Club’s Joe Leavitt, Green Meadow Golf Club’s Andrew Page and Houston highlighted a group of five golfers all having problems with two-under 70s. On top of that, there were still seven other golfers even or one-under.

It’s not like the NHGA went searching for the golf course with the worst greens available. First off, Stonebridge was chosen a couple of years in advance. Secondly, there aren’t too many courses out there with no damage.

The winter was rough on greens, fairways and bunkers statewide. Many are still in the recovery process. So, it was a shock that competitors would even fret about the greens heading into the event. It’s what they’ve been practicing on all spring and summer.

One thing is for sure: The playing surface may not be level, but the field certainly was.

From the first tee through the 18th green, every golfer had the same roughs, bunkers, hazards and slow greens to deal with.

Those in Friday’s quarterfinals simply found a way to make the most of their opportunities.

George Scione can be reached at 594-6520 or gscione@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Scione on Twitter (@Telegraph_BigG).