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State Amateur at North Conway Sure to Bring Back Memories; North Conway Set to Host Top Granite State Amateur

July 6th, 2021

Concord, NH – With the picturesque first tee shot in mind, many positive memories are sure to come flooding back as we approach the start of the 118th New Hampshire Amateur Championship presented by Tuckerman’s Restaurant. The championship will be held at North Conway Country Club from July 12th through the 17th. 156 players are anxiously awaiting the start of the tournament with new faces along with many seasoned veterans ready to compete amongst a field of the top amateurs in the Granite State.

North Conway Country Club has hosted the NHGA’s most prestigious tournament twice before and both players who won at North Conway are in this year’s field.  Danny Arvanitis (Derryfield CC) won it the last time the club hosted in 2001 and Bob Mielcarz (Concord CC) won his fourth of nine State Amateur titles at North Conway in 1982.

Arvanitis emotionally reflected back on his win saying, “It brings back a lot of memories.  I think I was 46 years old; I had been playing since I was 16.  30 years of playing, you see all your buddies win it and it finally came true.” 

“Those memories don’t go away”, stated Arvanitis.

He looks forward to the trip up north next week and comments, “Just knowing that I won there, they are memories that they can’t take away from you.  I haven’t played there much, but it’ll be nice to go back, see it, and relive those memories.”

Along with Arvanitis and Mielcarz, there are eight additional past State Amateur champions teeing it up next week including Phil Pleat (Nashua CC), Craig Steckowych (Portsmouth CC), Matt Burroughs (Derryfield CC), Mark Stevens (Concord CC), Jim Cilley (Laconia CC), Joe Leavitt (Atkinson Resort & CC), John DeVito (Passaconaway CC) and defending champion, James Pleat (Nashua CC).  Among the 10 past champions, there are 22 State Amateur titles.

Last year, James Pleat followed in the footsteps of his great grandfather, grandfather, and his father, Phil, by winning his first New Hampshire Amateur title, doing so on his home course, Nashua Country Club.  With a win under his belt, he looks forward to what the week at North Conway will bring.

“I’m feeling good going into the State Am and I’m excited to play in it again this year,” stated James.  “The game still needs some work but it’s always fun to compete and the State Am is the premier event!”

Despite outlasting the field in 2020, he says he still feels some pressure to defend his title, but not as much as he put on himself last year.  James commented, “It was mostly self-induced pressure, but since it was at my home course last year and I hadn’t yet won one, I had put some pressure on myself because I really wanted to win.”

“But as defending champ this year, there certainly is some pressure to do well, but I’d say relatively less than last year”, James continued.

With a lot to look forward to, James said, “Tournament golf is a lot of fun and it’s great to see the usual group of guys at the State Am each year. There’s always excitement in the air during State Am week, and the format of the tournament certainly contributes to that.”

In preparation for the tournament and North Conway specifically, James stated, “I’m mostly working on my wedge game and short game, as those are usually the weak parts of my game.”

“North Conway has small greens, so being precise with your approach shots is key in addition to chipping and putting well, which is always important in match play,” James continued. “The course can be tricky so picking your spots to be aggressive and to be conservative is also important.”

James will be looking to defend his title, but will have to go through many talented golfers, including younger golfers who are competing in the State Amateur for the first time and veteran golfers with ample State Amateur experience.  All will look to make their mark on New Hampshire golf history.

There is most certainly a youth movement apparent in the field and among the 21 junior golfers in the 156-player field is 14-year-old Josiah Hakala (Beaver Meadow GC) who is no stranger to tournament golf.  He regularly competes in U.S. Challenge Cup competitions, often finishing among the top competitors in his division.  He will be sure to turn some heads as he tees it up in his first New Hampshire Amateur. Overall, 10% of the field is made of up players that are 17 years of age or younger.

North Conway Country Club not only offers scenic views, especially off the 1st tee, but a good challenge for this year’s field.  For longer hitters, being able to control their wedge shots into the greens will be key to capitalize on the birdie opportunities that will be out there.  The course stretches to about 6,600 yards and with many tree-lined fairways, keeping the ball on the correct side of the trees and in-play will be important throughout the competition.

The New Hampshire Amateur Championship presented by Tuckerman’s Restaurant is a six-day event beginning with 36 holes of stroke play qualifying to determine the 64 golfers that will advance to match play.  The Championship concludes with a 36-hole final match on Saturday, July 17th which will crown the 118th champion of this historic and prestigious event.

New Hampshire Amateur Portal:  CLICK HERE