VASSALBORO — This sprint of a high school golf season that began two weeks ago is almost complete. Monday’s Mountain Valley Conference championship at Natanis Golf Course’s Arrowhead course was a chance for some players to extend this season shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic one more match to Saturday’s state championship.
Even in this shortest of seasons, Ben DeBiase, a senior at Mt. Abram High School, showed almost no rust in his game. DeBiase shot a 75 to take medalist honors and claim the MVC’s individual title, three shots ahead of TJ Folsom of Kents Hill.
“I played pretty well. Definitely better than last year. My wedge could have been better, but I think I putted pretty well and overall, not too bad,” DeBiase said.
Abby Flanagan of Monmouth/Hall-Dale was the top girls finisher, shooting an 82. Monmouth/Hall-Dale took the team title, beating Winthrop by two strokes.
Winthrop and Monmouth/Hall-Dale advance to the Class C team championship Saturday, which also will be played on the Arrowhead course. This year, the individual and team championships will be held simultaneously, rather than on back-to-back weekends as in the past.
DeBiase said playing at his home course helped prepare him for Monday’s conference championship.
“Really today, I was just focused on getting the ball in play off the tee. My home course for our high school team is Sugarloaf, so that’s a big thing there because there’s just woods all around you. Out here (at Natanis), you’ve got some holes that will punish you for going long, going left, going right. I was just really focused on putting it play, trying to hit the fairways,” DeBiase said.
More often than not, DeBiase hit an iron off the tee, choosing accuracy over distance.
“My 3-wood and driver, they’re a little bit iffy every now and then. Right now, I don’t trust them all too much. But the club I go back to is usually a 5-iron or 4-iron when I’m trying to hit fairways,” DeBiase said.
For Folsom, a senior at Kents Hill, Monday’s MVC championship was his first competitive round of the season.
“We haven’t had a match yet. We haven’t been to a golf course yet. They’re trying to keep the boarding students on campus, so there’s not a lot we can do,” Folsom said. “This is it. It was nice to get a round of tournament golf under my belt.”
DeBiase, Folsom and Flanagan played together, starting their round on hole 9 before moving on to the back nine. Folsom held a two stroke lead over DeBiase when the group went to the front nine, but struggled on hole 1. Folsom’s tee shot was lost in the woods to the left of the fairway, and with the penalty stroke he took an eight on the hole.
“I’m happy I got to see the course. I got to come up with a game plan and hit the shots I’ll have to hit on Saturday. One, I probably want a driver there,” Folsom said.
DeBiase’s birdie on the par-3 hole 7, the group’s next-to-last hole, effectively sealed the match.
Flanagan played consistently as well, shooting 40 on the back nine before finishing with 42 on the front. Flanagan said the only hole that stood out to her, good or bad, was the long par-5 hole 4, where she took a double bogey. Along with other golfers, Flanagan was glad to get in a season, even one as short as this.
“It’s a short season, and our first match was cancelled,” Flannagan said.