Maine Golf is pleased to announce John Hayes as the recipient of the 2022 Dr. Leonardo Buck Player of the Year award, an annual accolade bestowed to the player who accrues the most points in a year-long competition among all of its tournaments. The Player of the Year race began on August 1, 2021 and ran through the end of July 2022. Points are available at all Maine Golf Play Days and championship tournaments, along with certain regional tournaments, with points awarded based on a combination of the field size and the importance of the event.
“It’s truly an honor,” says Hayes on winning the award. “My father always had great respect for Dr. Buck. I remember chatting with Dr. Buck on the 11th hole during a rain delay at the 2009 Maine Amateur at Martindale. He had lots of stories of Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, and Jack Nicklaus. It was all very cool stuff.”
Hayes, 32, is a member at Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth. Off the golf course, he works in real estate and resides in South Portland. He is no stranger to winning trophies in Maine Golf events, having won numerous championships dating back to his years of junior golf here in the Pine Tree State. Hayes is a former champion of the Maine Amateur (2015), Mid-Amateur (2019, 2020), Match Play Invitational (2012), and Junior Amateur (2006), but this marks the first time he has earned the season-long title of Player of the Year.
When asked about how he was able to find such success in the past season, he jokes “the young college studs didn’t play as much!” He remains humble and acknowledges some of the top players he’s been competing against in Maine over the last few years. “It’s great to see Caleb (Manuel) and Cole (Anderson) play so well. They are doing a great job representing Maine.”
Hayes’ biggest points haul came from a great week he had on the national stage at the 2021 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship just a few hours south at Sankaty Head, a Massachusetts course on the island of Nantucket. After getting through a local qualifier to earn a spot in the field, Hayes went to the Mid-Am against a stacked field and qualified as the #18 seed after 36-holes of stroke play. He won his first round match before “getting smoked” in the round of 32. Looking back on the event, he admits “I know I can compete at that level and I can’t wait to get back.”
“Nantucket is a special place,” he recalls. “Playing in a USGA event out there will be the highlight of my tournament career. I can’t think of a better venue for a golf tournament. There is so much to do on the island; fishing, going to the beach, and walking through the historic downtown.”
The Mid-Amateur was the third USGA championship for Hayes, who also played in the 2016 U.S. Amateur and 2017 Mid-Amateur (where he also made match play). He will play in another USGA championship in the spring of 2023, having qualified this fall for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball with friend and fellow Purpoodock member Reese McFarlane.
Hayes’ other top tournaments in the wraparound points season were a runner-up at the 2021 Maine Event, and a T-3 finish at this year’s Maine Amateur at Webhannet, where he finished as just one of four players under par for the championship. He also won four men’s Play Days he entered over the season. His yearlong points total edged out two-time defending Player of the Year Caleb Manuel.
When asked about some of the standout moments from this season, he alludes to the USGA championship on deck with McFarlane next spring at Kiawah Island, and also winning the State of Maine Championship at Sugarloaf in a playoff. Additionally, one round in particular stood out for its sheer uniqueness, taking place during the final round at the Maine Amateur at Webhannet.
“I had (local member) Justin Irish on the bag,” he remembers. “It was the most insane round of my career with two eagles, five birdies, a double bogey, and a quad bogey.”
Certainly one way to shoot 69.
Congratulations to John Hayes on a great season and for being a worthy recipient of the 2022 Dr. Leonardo Buck Player of the Year award.