James Frost wins Match Play Invitational on extra hole

·4 min read

Aug. 3—FALMOUTH — Twenty years ago, James Frost was in a final-round match at Falmouth Country Club with the Maine Amateur Championship on the line.

"Mark Plummer gave me a bit of a whupping," Frost said, recalling a 3-and-2 loss in 2002 to the Maine golfing legend. "It was back when the Maine Amateur was match play and I was a dumb 19-year-old who didn't know any better and I kept winning matches. I think I was (Plummer's) 13th victim."

On Wednesday, Frost was back at Falmouth Country Club, once again in a final match with one of Maine's top amateur golf crowns on the line.

This time, Frost, 40, got the job done, winning the Match Play Invitational. He sank a testy birdie putt on the 19th hole to beat Garrett Olson, 37, of West Bath and Brunswick Golf Club, 1-up.

After a strong junior career and playing college golf, Frost moved to Fort Myers, Florida, and played sporadically. When he returned to Maine, it took several more years to regain his competitive form.

"I didn't play competitive golf for probably eight or nine years, and when you don't play it for that long, you lose that edge," said Frost, an accounting manager for a Westbrook nonprofit who lives in Poland and plays out of Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn. "I had good vibes of match play here in the past. Honestly, I was just never sure I would get back to that point again.

"I can still do it. I still have it."

Frost led by one or two holes for most of the match. Olson rallied with a birdie on the 13th hole and took a 1-up lead when Frost bogeyed the 14th and 17th holes.

On the dogleg par-4 18th, both players hit well-placed tee shots to attack the bunker-protected green. Playing first, Olson pulled his iron into a sand trap left of the green. Olson had holed a sand shot for an eagle to win the eighth hole, but this time he was unable to get up-and-down. Frost made his long two-putt par, and the duo went back to the first hole.

"I knew I was amped up and I knew I was going to hit the ball farther than I expected, so I took less club and I was aiming 30 yards right of where I ended up," Olson said of his approach on 18. "That was about the worst shot I hit all day. We didn't hit a lot of shots like that."

On the first extra hole, Frost stuck his second shot onto the upper tier of a tricky green, about 10 feet from the pin. Olson nearly matched him, hitting it pin-high about 12 feet out.

Olson missed his birdie attempt. Frost rolled in a delicate putt for the win.

"It was one I had to be careful with because it was a downhill putt and Garrett was already in with (par)," Frost said. "I hit it right corner and hoped and it was one of those times where it actually matched what you saw."

Olson was most impressed by his opponent's second shot.

"He's not going to tell you how good of a wedge shot he hit," Olson said. "To that pin out of the fairway, it was tough to stop it, and he hit that like 150 out of the rough and left it right there."

Playing from the back tees and to nearly Falmouth's full 7,300-yard length, Frost and Olson displayed consistently long and accurate shots off the tee and some impressive shotmaking throughout the match.

The top 16 (plus ties) at this year's Maine Amateur qualified for the Match Play Invitational, with the rest of the field filled by the top point earners from Maine Golf's Player of the Year race. Frost was 11th at this year's Maine Amateur. Olson tied for 12th.

Maine Amateur winner Caleb Manuel, 20, did not participate in the Match Play tournament. Manuel is competing this week in the Western Amateur, along with former Maine Amateur and Match Play champion Cole Anderson. Maine Amateur runner-up Mike Arsenault and former Maine Amateur champ John Hayes, who tied for third this year, also chose not to compete. That opened the door a bit wider for players like Frost and Olson, two long hitters with their own impressive athletic resumes.

Frost won three straight Class C high school individual golf titles for Calais High (1998-2000) and is in the University of Southern Maine Sports Hall of Fame after being the Huskies' top player from 2003-05 and a two-time all-New England pick.

Olson, now a patrol deputy with the Sagadahoc County Sheriff's Office, was a golf and baseball standout at Oxford Hills. He was a fourth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2006 after being a Division II All-American at Franklin Pierce, and played three seasons of minor league baseball.