GREENLAND — Minus a key defender in the opening round of the New Hampshire Amateur golf championship on Monday, the sun-splashed Portsmouth Country Club course relied on team defense.

The wind, often a factor breezing off Great Bay, was largely dormant. But only two players broke par on a layout that measured a watered-down but firm 6,904 yards, which kept the 156 players moving efficiently but also guessing clubs.

“Even chipping, let alone hitting an approach shot, is different than most courses I’ve played,” said leader John Devito of Passaconaway CC, a relative newcomer to the course who shot 2-under 70.

Grown-out rough contrasted to Portsmouth’s reputation as a hit-it, find-it, hit-it-again course.

“The notion, or the belief, at Portsmouth, is you can hit the driver anywhere,” said five-time Seacoast Amateur champ Brett Wilson, who is in a tie for third after shooting 72. “You couldn’t hit it anywhere. You had to hit the fairway today. The greens are firm and you had to hit greens."

Devito was playing in a threesome with Taylor Simpson of The Oaks, who shot 72 and has won matches in this event three times, but struggled with driver decisions, like many players.

“‘One of the holes I bogeyed I snap-hooked a hybrid off the tee and (playing partner) David (Della Penta) looked at me like I was an idiot,” he said.

Still, the layout of the course and the condition that superintendent Greg Dubois put it in got a rave review from players.

“It’s awesome, just a beautiful course,” said Devito. “Scenic, and it’s in great shape, definitely healthy. Other than the firmness of the greens, which is something you have to get used to, it’s an awesome track.”

As the week goes on, it should also get longer.

“Once we get to match play, especially when we get past the Round of 64, I think they’ll see a lot more of the golf course,” said NHGA executive director Matt Schmidt.


It was already a special day for Phil Pleat before he hit a golf shot Monday.

Pleat, 63, was announced a part of the second New Hampshire Golf Hall of Fame class, a four-person group that also includes his late father-in-law, eight-time State Am champ Thomas J. Leonard Jr.; Sagamore Golf Center teaching pro Laura Shanahan-Rowe, who won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur in 2001; and longtime Manchester CC pro Stan Lencki Sr.

“When the Hall of Fame was established in 2018, we knew of the deep talent pool of golfers that live and compete in the Granite State,” said Schmidt. “Each year, the (Hall of Fame) Committee continues to be blown away by the accomplishments of our golfers and the Class of 2019 certainly represents that.”

Then Pleat, a Nashua CC member who’s won this tournament three times — to go with 17 other NHGA titles — went out and shot an even-par 72 to finish the first round in a tie for third. His threesome, that also included Wilson and Cameron Salo of The Shattuck (74) was one of the best of the day.


In a field that counts 18 players under the age of 18, the two youngest — Brian Adams and Noah Leclair — each could take some positives away from their opening rounds.

Adams, 14, who was the runner-up to Sam Barton at last year’s State Juniors, had a tough stretch in the middle of his round, making four straight bogeys. But the North Hampton resident and Breakfast Hill member cleaned things up to make just one bogey after the 10th, and also had some good looks at birdies that didn’t fall.

His 77 leaves him inside the projected cutline for match play.

The 13-year-old Leclair, the youngest player in the field, bogeyed six of his first nine holes but steadied himself on the back side, playing it at just 1-over to come in at 79.