Dorset Field Club ready for first Vermont Amateur in 105 years

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DORSET — It's been 105 years since The Dorset Field Club last hosted the Vermont Amateur Championship, and the club is putting its best foot forward for the tournament's return.

The tournament will bring 100 of the best amateur golfers in the state to Dorset on Tuesday, July 11 through Thursday, July 13.

Head Golf Professional Patrick Berry said "the Vermont Golf Association asked us to host, and the club was happy to do it."

The Dorset Field Club has hosted this tournament once before, in 1912. This time, it plans to offer new services to the players that club general manager Patrick McGuire believes have never been offered before at the Championship.

For instance, thanks to the fundraising efforts of several members of the club, all tournament competitors will be provided with food and beverages both in the clubhouse and on the course for all three days of the event.

The players will also be given full use of the club's golf facilities, including the clubhouse, locker rooms, driving range, and the club's short game practice area, to which players will be shuttled by member volunteers. These volunteers, numbering about 45 in all, will be filling roles such as controlling parking, registering competitors, driving the food and beverage cart, and scoring and spotting balls on the golf course.

McGuire explained that in addition to the scoring done by the Vermont Golf Association (VGA), volunteer scorers on the course will be updating leaderboards in real time and scores will be posted on the VGA's website. A live feed of the tournament will also be connected to the televisions in the clubhouse, which will act as the headquarters for the event.

Other club members will be on the course acting as spotters, watching balls that might stray into the fescue or "secondary rough," the taller, unmowed grass that golf course and buildings and grounds manager David Berard called "probably the greatest challenge that these players may have."

"Right now, the fine fescue and secondary rough is probably at the toughest it'll ever be," Berard said, citing the wet spring and the seeds that will remain on top of the grass until late July.

In preparation for the tournament, the fescue has been cut back in certain areas, and this past spring, the grounds crew introduced new chemicals to reduce the presence of thicker, bushier grasses, both to increase the pace of play and to make the course fairer.

The VGA has requested that the course be kept in virtually the same condition as it would be on a day-to-day basis at the height of the golf season. But Berard said that on the tournament days, the greens may be slightly faster than usual, making them more challenging in anticipation of the talented golfers who will test the course. The groundskeepers also recently finished renovating several of the course's more challenging bunkers, opening all areas of ground that were under repair over the past two weeks, Berard said.

Though the Dorset Field Club has not hosted the Championship for 105 years, member Devin Komline was state champion both in 2010 and 2011. This year, members Bill Hadden, Keith Komline, and Brian O'Grady have qualified.

With so many golfers visiting from around the state, the club and the staff will all be doing their best to make the competitors feel as welcome as possible.

"We're really trying to make it a welcoming environment," said McGuire. "Although we're a private club, we're proud to showcase this club for these three days, so we want to make sure we're treating [the players] like they're members."


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