Last week’s Maine Amateur wasn’t necessarily the start of Norway native Garrett Olson’s comeback tour, but it certainly showed that the hard work he had been putting in the past few years was paying off.
The 34-year-old made the Maine Am cut for the first time when he got off to a blistering start Tuesday at Portland Country Club, firing an opening round of 68, which put him in a tie in second place and three shots behind eventual champion Cole Anderson.
“Tuesday, I only hit one bad shot and that was on the 18th hole,” Olson said. “When I look back at my round, I was happy with every shot I took. I only missed one putt, which I thought I should have made all day. Pretty much everything was going right that day, and the next two days, I couldn’t get anything going off the tee.”
After a second-round 82 and a third round of 83, Olson finished the tournament in 35th, which qualifies him in next year’s tournament. Not bad, especially considering Portland isn’t a course that fits his game.
“Playing different courses, you got to play different ways,” Olson said. “I think the way Portland was set up, it’s really for someone who can hit the ball right-to-left. I am pretty much the complete opposite.”
Olson was a golf standout at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in the early 2000s, earning top 10 finishes in the 200 and 2001 Class A state individual tournament. He was also able to qualify for the Maine Amateur a couple times, but his most notable athletic accomplishments came on the baseball diamond where he helped lead the Vikings to a Class A state championship appearance in 2002 (the Vikings lost to Sanford).
After high school, Olson played baseball at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire, from 2004-2006. He was named Division II All-America in 2005 and then was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the fourth round in 2006. Olson played two seasons in the Twins system and then a year with the Worcester Tornadoes of the independent Cam-Am league. He was a utility player in the pros, playing left field, third base and shortstop.
Olson, who now lives in West Bath and is an officer with the Bath Police Department, also coached the Morse High School varsity baseball team from 2010-2018.
Injuries started to pile up during his baseball career, and he stopped playing after the 2009 season. He turned his focus to golf and made his Maine Amateur return in 2011, the last time it was held at Portland Country Club. Then he went on a hiatus because the back injuries he suffered on the baseball field hindered his ability to play golf.
“In 2011, I had a lot of back issues, I couldn’t really swing,” Olson said. “I took a few years off to get things straightened out. I had a kid and couldn’t play too much. I had been busy, I started coaching baseball as well, and things started to settle down a bit.”
Thanks to physical therapy and regular cortisone shots, he has been free of back spasms for the past three or four years.
“It worked out good for me and it gave me the confidence to go out and swing a golf club again,” Olson said.
He resumed qualifying for the Maine Amateur back in 2017 when the tournament was played at his home club, the Brunswick Golf Club. He fired 159 in the two rounds he played and missed the cut by seven shots. Last year at Belgrade Lakes, he missed the cut again by seven strokes.