Maine has a superb cache of great golf courses. Fabled and historic resort courses remain today and can be accessed by the public. Also, a number of top-notch daily fee layouts came on line 1990’s and early 2000’s.
A Maine road trip during summer is pure delight. As already mentioned, there are dozens of outstanding courses to pick from, the weather is lovely…warm days and cool nights…and the accommodations and dining options numerous and pure New England. When you aren’t golfing, enjoy kayaking, hiking, sailing the ocean and crystal clear lake waters, or lay on a beach and bask in the sun.
Here is a sampling of the some of the best courses you can play on a Maine Road Trip
Always a favorite near the Pine Tree State’s coastline, the owner of Boothbay Harbor Country Club in Boothbay invested millions of dollars in renovations to the course, a new clubhouse, and additional and enhanced amenities that is turning the club into one of the premier golfing destinations in the Northeast.
The entire course was redesigned by Bruce Hepner, with the initial improvements were completed in 2014. The front nine redesign included four entirely new green complexes, on holes 1, 3, 5 and 9. Sand bunkers on the entire course were reshaped and re-sanded with bunkers added in strategic spots. All tee boxes were laser leveled. New air conditioned comfort stations were opened after holes 4, 9, 14 and 17 holes, with complementary bottled water made available to golfers.
In addition, a new practice facility was built with target areas and sand bunkers. The entire practice area was sodded and irrigated and provides beautiful views of the course with a 20-plus-foot ledge wall bordering the entire left side of the facility.
Bridgton Highlands Country Club in Bridgton is an enjoyable and challenging 18-hole golf course with great mountain views located in the heart of Maine’s Lakes Region in southwestern Maine one hour from Portland and 20 miles from the New Hampshire border. The course has four sets of tees and a maximum length of 6,224 yards.
In 1925 and 1926 Robert Braun, his lawyer, Eugene Bodge, and Dr.
Angus Hebb, all of whom lived or had summer homes in Bridgton, contacted the noted golf course designer, A.W. Tillinghast, to design a course on Highland Ridge. Tillinghast, noted for many famous courses, including Baltusrol, Winged Foot and Bethpage, designed a par-37, nine-hole course with a length of 3,212 yards. In the 1980’s, Geoffrey Cornish and Brian Silva were hired to design and build two new holes (current holes 5 and 14) to replace the original 7th and 8th holes due to construction of 16 condominiums. In 1992, 20 individuals purchased the nine-hole golf course at auction and set about to expand it to an 18-hole layout, using a design by Fred Ryan, one of the new owners. The new holes were intertwined with the original Tillinghast holes and those added by Cornish and Silva.
Spring Meadow Golf Club at Cole Farms in Gray measures 6,656 yards from the tips and plays to a par of 71. The par-fives here are very sturdy, including the 600-yard third that tests your ability early in the round. Speaking of early, you can’t have a much more demanding start to a loop than the first at Spring Meadow. The par-four plays 430 yards from the tips and there is a pond to the right that must be avoided on the tee shot. If you play safe to the left you will have a longer approach that again must contend with the water and a bunker.
Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn plays over 6,800 yards from the championship markers and has a par of 72. Again, the par-fives are a strength, with two, the fourth and 11th holes, approaching 600 yards from the tips. It also has as good a par-three as you will encounter, the 202-yard fifth hole. The tee shot is from an elevated green to a putting surface that has water on three sides, which means you will have to be exact with your club selection. Once on the green you will have to contend with undulations and subtle breaks, all of which makes a three here a very good score indeed.
The Bethel Inn Resort golf course in Bethel, built just over 100 years ago, remained nine holes of little recognition until 1988 when it was redesigned and expanded to an 18-hole championship layout by the renowned architect Geoffrey Cornish. The 6,663-yard, par-72 course takes maximum advantage of mountain vistas and the natural beauty of the area. Large, well-trapped greens, tree-lined fairways and five tee positions make play challenging for all golfers. There is a pleasant mix of short and long par-fours, tough par-threes and demanding par-fives that will test the ability of all levels of golfer.
Dan Maples brought a Carolinas feeling to Maine when he designed Dunegrass Golf Club, located in Old Orchard Beach. The 6,684-yard, par-71 course that features sandy waste areas and pine-needled rough. The layo0ut, which opened for play in 1998, sprawls over 300 acres. It is the only Dan Maples 18-hole championship design in the Northeast. The architect is acclaimed for his work in the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina, and several of his courses there are ranked among the best in the world.
Nonesuch River Golf Club, in Scarborough, was designed by Tom Walker, who was a longtime course architect with Gary Player Design. The scenic, 6,300-yard, par-70 layout, while not long, demands thoughtful approaches to each hole and accurate placement off the tee and on shots to the greens. Proper club selection is a must, as is the ability to chip and putt around and on the undulating greens. There are plenty of bunkers in the fairways and around the greens to further complicate matters.
Point Sebago Resort Golf Course in Casco has been ranked number one in southern Maine by Golf Digest and one of the top 20 golf courses in New England by New England PGA professionals. Designed by renowned golf course architects George Sergeant and Philip Wolgan, this scenic par-72 course covers 7,002 yards and has a slope rating of 135. Point Sebago has two great finishing holes. The 17th hole is a demanding, uphill 202-yard par-three that has a green that sits in a grassy hollow, with a bunker guarding the front of the green and pot bunkers to the left. The finishing hole at the resort course is a classic par-five. It measures 527 yards from the back markers and the putting surface can be attained with two lusty shots.
Established in 1895 by Arthur Fenn and re-designed by Donald Ross in 1912, the Links at Poland Spring claims to be the first golf course built at a resort in the United States. Poland Spring Resort recently added a new 330-yard driving range with natural grass, artificial tees, and a spectacular view of the rugged White Mountains. After a round at Poland Spring you can relax on the clubhouse porch overlooking the championship golf course at Mel’s Hilltop Restaurant, or grab a quick bite at the Pro Shop Café before you join your family for a swim in the large crystal clear swimming pool, all just a few yards from the 18th green. The Inn offers many options for dining, such as a home cooked breakfast and evening meals that are served daily, buffet style, in a comfortable dining room.
Riverside Golf Course is owned and operated by the City of Portland. The popular and traditional public golf facility first opened in 1932. The facility features an 18-hole course, a 9-hole course and a 3-hole practice course. The classic layout, rolling hills and tree-line fairways are bordered by the Presumpscot River. The toughest hole on the 18-hole course is the 554-yard 10th hole, a par-five. The tee shot is elevated to a low, long and wide fairway bordered by a water hazard the left. The approach to the green is guarded by a line of pine trees on the left and more water on the right. There are also bunkers on both sides of the putting surface. The nine-hole course is a feel good layout with four of the first five holes shortish par-fours. There is only one par-five, the 540-yard sixth, that can prove tough if you wander on your tee shot and second strike of the ball.
Spring Meadow, Poland Spring and Fox Ridge are part of the Maine Trifecta golf offering, were you can golf all three and stay at Poland Spring Resort for two different prices; $299, which includes lodging, three all-you-can-eat buffet meals, 18 holes at each course, golf carts and range balls at each course; and the $329 Deluxe Trifecta, which includes the above plus upgraded accommodations and four buffet meals. All rates are per person, double occupancy, plus seven percent Main sale tax. Visit www.MaineTrifecta.com.