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May 29—Brian Bickford, executive director of the Maine State Golf Association, is trying to get more girls and women interested in the sport.

That’s the thrust behind Maine’s inaugural Women’s Golf Week, which kicks off on Tuesday with MSGA Member Play Days at Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland and Hermon Meadow Golf Club. There were 180 golfers registered at the courses.

Play begins with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. and there will be several on-course games and competitions along with a 50-50 raffle for breast cancer awareness to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

In all, 16 courses across the state will offer clinics and other events for women and girls during the week, including Bangor Municipal Golf Course, Hermon Meadow, the Rockland Golf Club and the Traditions Golf and Learning Center in Holden along with Augusta Country Club in Manchester and Sugarloaf Golf Club in Carrabassett Valley.

On Wednesday, at the Toddy Brook Golf Course in North Yarmouth, there will be an “Evening on the Range” from 4-6 p.m. with Kate Merrill for girls 18 and under. Thursday’s event will be a virtual happy hour from 5-6 p.m. with two featured guests, PGA professionals Andree Martin and Meghan Bickford.

Saturday’s activity is a Drive, Chip and Putt qualifier at the Biddeford-Saco Country Club.

More information can be obtained on the website.

Bickford said there was an increase in the number of women golfers last season. The sport flourished in part because it was an outdoor activity that could be done with social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There were a lot of couples playing golf,” said Bickford, who likewise reports a big surge in girls junior players.

The MSGA has adopted the Youth on Course program for youngsters that enables them to play golf for $5 or less. It can also provide them with career prep, leadership and scholarship programs.

“We have 100 junior girls in the program, which is three times more than we had a year ago,” Bickford said.

He hopes to expand Women’s Golf Week every year moving forward.

Gov. Janet Mills praised the Women’s Golf Week venture.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to come together and celebrate Maine’s rich history of women in golf,” Mills said. “You will have a chance to golf alongside some of the best female golfers in the state and get trips from professionals at courses all across the state.

“Whether you are a newcomer to the sport or an amateur champion, I hope you have a wonderful time coming together over a shared love of golf while supporting the Susan G. Komen Foundation.”