Vermont Amateur begins today with field of 95

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BENNINGTON — Nine area golfers will be in the hunt for a Vermont Amateur championship as the 111st Am heads to Waterbury and the Country Club of Vermont starting today.

It's the first year that the club, established in 1998, will host the Amateur.

"Most of the courses in Vermont are usually old, so this is a little different," said Logan Ripley, a former Mount Anthony golfer who qualified for his third straight Amateur last month.

After four qualifiers in Rutland, Barre, Williston and Champlain and others in based on a top-30 finish last year at Dorset Field Club, the field of 95 will face a 6,800-yard, par-72 course that has its ups and downs.

Ripley and two other Mount Anthony Country Club golfers — Stephen Carknard and Taylor Bellemare — took in a practice round at the Country Club of Vermont over the weekend. Bellemare finished tied for 22nd last year, giving him an automatic exemption into this year's Amateur.

"It's not just long, but tighter as well. Some guys can hit driver off the tee, but others will hit hybrids," said Ripley, who played golf at the College of St. Rose in Albany. "But you have to be careful, there's fescue, lots of hazards and a lot of unmarked out-of-bounds. I had a few birdies in the practice round."

With the hot, dry weather, the greens are in great shape, Ripley said.

"They are really fast. Mount Anthony's greens are pure, but not that fast, because they don't have a big tournament going on," Ripley said.

The weather during the three days of the tournament will be important. While the forecast called for scattered thunderstorms on Tuesday and sunny conditions the other days, the wind is a big factor. Ripley said he thinks if the wind picks up, it could pull the field closer together.

Last year, when the tournament was held for the first time at the Dorset Field Club, Drake Hull, a former Rutland golfer who is playing at University of Kansas, won the event with a 7-under 273, one of only four golfers to finish under par.

But overall, players will have to pick their spots to shoot well.

"There's a couple of long par-5s that can benefit long hitters, but you have to be accurate as well," Ripley said.

Dorset Field Club, with Brian O'Grady, Thomas Deck, Paul Kelly and Keith Komline, will be fighting for the McCullough Cup, the trophy for the top team by course. Other courses involved include Rutland, Country Club of Barre, Burlington, Champlain, CCV and Vermont National.

Other local competitors include Ekwanok's Paul Heffernan and Mark Heffernan.

The last Southern Vermont golfer to win the Amateur was Dorset's Devin Komline, who went back-to-back in 2010 and 2011.

For Ripley, who hasn't made the cut in his first two Vermont Amateur attempts, he hopes he can get off to a fast start when he tees off at 12:10 p.m.

"When we did our practice round, it was around noon, which is near my tee time," Ripley said. "I can see some of what's been posted before I go out."

To follow the tournament, which will have semi-live scoring, go to vtga.org


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