Caleb Manuel hit from the sand trap and on the 16th green last summer in Waterville. Manuel shot a 70 and was two shots off the lead after the first round. Rich Abrahamson / Morning Watch

After a summer that went as well as Caleb Manuel could have hoped, his ensuing college season was a similar story.

Manuel thrived in his second season at the University of Connecticut, playing a program that started in September, had a winter break, and resumed in the spring. The Topsham native and Mt. Ararat graduate has played in nine events and 27 rounds and is the Huskies’ leading scorer with an average score of 70.9. He also paces the team with 16 par or better, and his seven top-10 finishes are four more than any other UConn player.

After a summer that included a Maine Amateur Championship, a second-place finish in the New England Amateur Championship and qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour event in Falmouth, Manuel said he was able to build on his momentum.

“I don’t know if I expected it, but I really wanted it to be like this,” he said. “I like that some guys on the team see me as a strong player they can rely on. I definitely jumped into this position, and it’s fun to play good golf.

UConn is preparing for its most important part of the calendar. The Huskies have a tournament at Penn State next weekend, then play in the Big East Championship the following weekend in South Carolina. UConn won the conference title last year.

“The Big East is pretty much not the only tournament that matters in the spring, but it’s the biggest,” Manuel said. “I hope we can come back to regionals this spring as a team. It’s the one that’s the big one this spring. I hope the game will peak around this tournament.

Despite all his successes, Manuel said he went through a lull in the spring. He opened March with back-to-back top 10s at events in North and South Carolina, but struggled to tie for 61st in Alabama at the following event. After hitting 70 three times in the previous six rounds, he shot 73 or more in all three rounds at Alabama.

“I haven’t been very good,” he said. “It happens. People go through these stretches.

The event took place in late March and the Huskies haven’t competed since, but Manuel said he was able to practice and get his game back online.

“I feel good (about) where my game is now, even though we haven’t had a tournament in a little while,” he said. “I think a big thing is just to believe in your game and believe in yourself, and I think I kind of walked away from that for a little while there.”

With the Big East Championship coming up, Manuel said the key was to stay loose.

“You’re going to be nervous on the first tee, but after that you have to go out and pretend it’s like another golf tournament,” he said. “Treat every tournament as if it were the same.”

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Manuel’s golf course, Brunswick Golf Club, is gearing up for the season. The course opened on April 1 with 13 holes available to players, and director of golf AJ Kavanaugh said all 18 will likely be available next weekend.

“It’s almost a mirror of last year,” Kavanaugh said. “Our back nine is always the first set of holes that is ready, so April 1 was sort of picked in mid-March as the target date to open at least one back. It was actually positive that on April 1 we were also able to open four holes at the front.

The extra holes came in handy, as Kavanaugh said there was a large group of golfers who showed up April 1 to play, despite the day’s steady rain.

“We had over 100 golfers in the rain (that day) so we were off and running straight away,” he said. “A lot of people heard that we were opening there. … When I saw the tee sheet, I think about 112 golfers a few days before had already booked, but I was like, “Oh, the weather isn’t great. If we get half of that, I’d consider that a (valid) opening day. And we had almost the whole sheet, everyone showed up.

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The Augusta Country Club is also nearing its full opening. General manager Dave Soucy said Tuesday will be the opening of the greens, unlike the temporary greens that are in place now.

“All year round we are open to members,” he said. “But the official opening day is Tuesday, using greens. People are excited, membership is basically full. A few people quit, we take a few more, but essentially we only have a limited number of memberships available right now.

Todd McArthur looks for his ball on the fairway during a round on Saturday at Augusta Country Club in Manchester. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Soucy said the course, which will host this year’s Maine event from June 27-29 and the Charlie’s Heroes Tournament for Veterans on August 15, has come through the winter season well, although the weather hasn’t been as great. as possible.

“You never know. We cover a bunch of greens that have (had) issues in the past,” Soucy said. ice is the killer.You can have as much snow as you want, but when you have ice for more than 90 consecutive days, it causes problems.

Soucy thanked his staff for working to ensure the course would be in good condition.

“To the Superintendent’s (Chris Barnicoat) credit, he and his guys went out and they cleared snow and shoveled, and one of our members owns Manchester Motors, he was kind enough to lend us a piece of equipment on which we could get out of the golf course to clear some of the greens,” Soucy said. “The golf course came out in pretty good shape. … All we need now is a bit of sun .

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