Baker working at course in New Hampshire

This story was published on July 22, 2006 on Page D1 in all editions of the Bangor Daily News

BANGOR – Mike Baker, the former Greater Bangor Open champion who has worked at a number of clubs in Maine, has now taken a summer job out of state.

Not very far out, though.

“I’m at Hale’s Location in North Conway, N.H.,” said Baker. “It’s surrounded by the White Mountains National Forest.

“It’s a neat golf course, and it’s a great town. There’s a lot going on.”

Baker had been at Sugarloaf Golf Club in Carrabassett Valley for the previous two summers, but he and his girlfriend sold their house in Stratton.

“We bought a house in Florida, but we have friends in the area,” said Baker, so they decided to find another job for him in the area.

A number of clubs around North Conway had jobs available and he picked the Hale’s Location one.

The club has a head pro but not a PGA-certified one, said Baker, who is. That means he can take groups from the club to the New England PGA section pro-ams, which hadn’t been possible before.

“I’m the low man, but I told them I’d be playing a lot anyway. They said that’s fine, so it ended up working out,” said the 44-year-old Hermon native.

“I’ll do a lot of playing and some teaching there,” he said.

Baker bought half a spot on the New England Pro Golf Tour (about six events) and also plays section events and open tournaments around New England.

He has had an up-and-down season, he said.

“At LeBaron Hills [an NEPGT event in Pennsylvania last week], I had 67 the first round and was in second place,” Baker said.

The next day he was a couple over par when rain struck and he struggled in with a 79 and missed the cut.

“I went from being all excited to nothing,” he said. “I’m playing good golf, I’m just sometimes not scoring.”

Tovie, Take Two

Tovie St. Louis, the 18-year-old woman amateur from Royal Palm Beach, Fla., failed to make the cut, but she enjoyed the tournament, only her fifth multiple-day event.

“It was very interesting, a lot of fun,” said St. Louis, who asked to play in the GBO as a birthday present.

Figuring out the greens was the biggest problem for St. Louis, who posted rounds of 82 and 79.

“I had 40 putts yesterday [Thursday] and 39 today [Friday],” said St. Louis. “If I drop those putts to where they’re supposed to be, I’d be doing OK.”

St. Louis said before the tournament that she wasn’t used to bentgrass greens. Florida greens are almost exclusively Bermuda grass.

“I got Muni-ized the first day, and a couple times today,” she said. “Three-whacking the putts will get you every time.”

Now, she has Kebo Valley Golf Club in Bar Harbor and Sugarloaf to look forward to, among others, before returning home.

“I’ve driven around Kebo before,” she said. “I’m excited to play it for the first time.”

She’s also excited about coming back to the GBO.

“Oh, yes, definitely,” she said. “If I’m not in school, I’ll definitely do it again.

“Maybe I’ll get my dad [pro Dan St. Louis] to play next year so I can beat him.”

Dan St. Louis, who caddied for his daughter this time, quickly chimed in, “I’ll take that challenge.”

But he quickly added, with a laugh, “We have to be paired together. I have to know when I need to pull up lame.”

Tough crowd

Second-round leader Scott Hawley of Shrewsbury, Mass., is keeping good company.

He rooms in Florida with two-time defending champion Matt Donovan of Pittsfield, Mass., and 2001 GBO winner Jim Salinetti of Lee, Mass.

“I knew Scott from junior golf,” said Donovan. “And we played against each other in college.”

Hawley and Salinetti were already roommates in Florida.

“When their third roommate moved out, they asked if I wanted to join them,” said Donovan, who was making the move from Arizona to Florida.

They’ve been roommates for five years now.

They room together on the road as well if they’re playing the same tournaments.

“We’re staying at [Scott’s] home next week [for the NEPGT Blackstone event]. This week, it’s Scott, myself, and [David] Spitz, and Jim’s next door,” said Donovan.

They share the same interests and get along well, he said.

There is one thing they don’t have in common.

“Jim and I tease him that we’re going to bring down our Paul Bunyan trophies [given to the GBO winners] and say where’s yours?” said Donovan, smiling.

“Maybe this year he’ll get it done,” added Donovan.