While some portions of Cape Cod and coastal Rhode Island and Connecticut are without snow cover, the majority of New England remains buried as the calendar turns to March.
Elite amateur players, like Franklin, Mass. native Brian Higgins (pictured left) in and around the region know, however, that warm temperatures are on their way and play will resume.
Last year saw many impressive efforts across New England and with many players remaining active in their respective state circuits --- as well as on the New England and USGA level --- 2011 is shaping up to be just as competitive.
Here is a breakdown of what to expect in each New England state this season.
Brian Higgins won the Massachusetts Golf Association's Player of the Year Award and with good reason. The Franklin Country Club member won the hailed New England Amateur Championship at The Course at Yale in New Haven, Conn. He also placed second at the New England Amateur Invitational, won the Worcester County Amateur and sixth at the MGA's Amateur Championship.
Higgins leads a strong group of players --- experienced and youthful --- on the highly competitive Massachusetts amateur circuit.
The MGA's calendar tees off in May and revs up at the June 27-29 Massachusetts Open at Oak Hill Country Club. Two weeks later, the Massachusetts Amateur Championship will be played July 11-15 at Wyantenuck Country Club in Great Barrington. The Mid-Am event will be Sept. 13-15 at Pocasset Golf Club.
The Bay State will also host the annual Hornblower Memorial and Ouimet Memorial. The date for the Hornblower event is still up in the air, given the the harsh winter, but Ouimet players will tee it up July 27-29.
Finally, Massachusetts will host U.S. Open qualifying May 12 and 18 at Pinehills Golf Club and Crumpin-Fox Club, respectively.
Jeff Hedden, a member at The Black Hall Club, is one of the players expected to be ready to compete in 2011 after he turned in a stellar season in 2010. He placed second at the Russell C. Palmer Cup and Mid-Amateur Championship and was tied for second place at the Tournament of Champions. Hedden and partner Jim Gentile won the Two-Man Team Championship.
Evan Beirne, who finished No. 2 in the Player of the Year points, simply dominated the two tournaments he played in. In addition to defeating Hedden at the Palmer Cup, Beirne was the low amateur at the Connecticut Open Championship at the Country Club of Fairfield. Beirne, a senior at St. John’s University and an All-Big East Team selection as a junior, will be among the major favorites to contend in the top events in 2011.
The Connecticut Amateur Championship is schedule for June 20-24 at Rolling Hills Country Club. The Mid-Amateur Championship will be played Aug. 30-31 at The Farms Country Club and the Connecticut Open is slated for July 25-27 at Brooklawn Country Club.
Connecticut will also host the New England Senior Amateur Championship at Race Brook Country Club.
The Vermont Open will be played June 13-15 at Lake Morey.
The Vermont Amateur will be played July 12-14 at Neshobe Golf Club.
Devin Komline won the state of Vermont's Amateur Championship in 2010, breaking Brian Albertazzi's two-year winning streak in the event.
Vermont will also host the New England Junior Invitational Aug. 14-16 at Brattleboro Country Club.
Ryan Gay took home the 2010 Maine Amateur Championship at Kebo Valley Club in Bar Harbor, winning the highly-anticipated event for the second time in three years.
This year's Amateur Championship will be held July 12-14 at Portland Country Club. The Maine Open is June 21-22 at Falmouth Country Club. The Mid-Amateur Championship is slated for Oct. 1-2 at Webhannet.
Former University of Hartford linkster Nick MacDonald won the 107th New Hampshire State Amateur at Eastham Golf Links.
The 2011 New Hampshire state amateur championship will be played July 11-16 at Nashua Country Club. The New Hampshire Open is scheduled for July 26-27 at Atkinson Country Club and the Mid-Am will be held Sept. 22-24 at Manchester Country Club.
C. Charles Blanchard III is no stranger to success on the Rhode Island amateur golf circuit and he did little to sever the relationship in 2010. Blanchard, who is plays out of Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, Rhode Island, earned his sixth Player of the Year award last season.
Garrett Medeiros figures to be a key player in the Ocean State this season. Last year, Medeiros downed Ben Tuthill, 8 and 6, to take home the 2010 RIGA Amateur Championship. Medeiros also took home the Stroke Play Championship, putting together an impressive three-day total of 204 at the Agawam Hunt Club. Medeiros denied Blanchard a shot at winning his third straight stoke play title.
The Rhode Island Amateur Championship will be held July 12-16 at Metacomet Country Club. The Mid-Amateur event is schedule for Sept. 12-13 at Carnegie Abbey.
Rhode Island will also play host to the New England Amateur Championship, July 18-20 at Metacomet Country Club. The Northeast Amateur Invitational will be held June 22-25 at Wannamoisett Country Club.