Using Portland as a hub, you can create a seven-course golf trail that winds up the Maine coast from Old Orchard to Boothbay. Why Portland? According to the city’s website 3.6 million people visit Portland each year to sample its incredible array of restaurants and wander the cobblestone streets lined with shops and historic architecture. Portland, Maine’s largest city, fairly juts out into the ocean and its working waterfront has managed to keep its rugged character while absorbing a booming business, financial and retail landscape. Consistently ranked as one of the nation’s safest cities, Portland is culturally diverse (for Northern New England) and has a vibrant arts and music community. Many visitors from large urban areas fall so in love with Portland that they relocate there - adding to its melting pot image. For the visitor with golf clubs, Portland has even more to offer.
A twenty minutes drive to the south of Portland will bring you to Dunegrass in Old Orchard, one of the area’s premier public courses. Designed by Dan Maples, Dunegrass opened for play in 1998 and features more than 300 acres of idyllic coastal terrain and some really, really fast greens. Dunegrass requires some deft shotmaking from the tees and a deft touch around the greens but it does not demand exceptional length. The service is impeccable and the Fairways restaurant is worth the trip by itself but the course can be played for as little as $29 before the peak season kicks in. Visit their website at www.dunegrass.com
to sign up for their unadvertised specials. The Willowdale Golf Club
is in Scarborough, just minutes up the coast from Old Orchard. Built as a nine-hole course back in 1924 the front side course weaves its way around the Scarborough Marsh ˆ a salt water marsh that absolutely teems with wildlife. The back, added in 1960 meanders through meadows and apple orchards. While not a difficult course, it has plenty of challenge to interest every golfer and its natural beauty makes Willowdale a local favorite. www.willowdalegolf.com
Also in Scarborough and visible from the Maine Turnpike is the Nonesuch River Golf Club
. Like Willowdale, Nonesuch River is very walkable and the Tom Doak design clearly has the average golfer in mind. Open since the mid-90’s, the mission of Nonesuch River is to provide excellent bent grass greens and fairways at an affordable price. It’s close proximity to Portland and the Maine Mall has made this course exceptionally popular to both the local and traveling golfer. www.nonesuchgolf.com
Swerve inland and in minutes you’ll come to the city of Westbrook and the Sunset Ridge Golf Links
. Currently 9 holes, the Tom Emery design features a spectacular landscape. Rolling hills and meadows outline the beautiful apple orchards and wetland fingers that make this course such a treat to play. The property also contains a par 3 course, miniature golf and a driving range. www.westerlywinds.com
A mere half hour up the coast from Portland (you still may feel compelled to stop off in Freeport on the way) is the town of Brunswick – home to Bowdoin College and the Brunswick Golf Club. Brunswick Golf Club
is a challenging and well-conditioned 18-hole gem considered by many to be the best course in Mid-Coast Maine. The two nines offer contrasting styles and dimensions, providing a great golfing experience for all levels.
The front side, a Geoff Cornish design, is the longer of the two and will test every club in your bag at a par-37. The Stiles/Van Cleek-designed back nine, a par-35, is a shorter, more open test with plenty of birdie opportunities. www.brunswickgolfclub.com
The next town over is Bath, renowned for ship building and the Bath Country Club. Founded originally in 1932, Bath Country Club
was for many years a nine-hole course. In the early ‘90s, it was purchased by Harris Golf... and today, it’s a different facility. The creation of the new back nine and course improvements by the dozen over the years have drawn golfers from as far away as Portland, Rockland, Lewiston, Augusta and beyond. Paved cart paths mean a smoother ride and a longer season. The Clubhouse includes a fully-stocked pro shop, state-of-the-art golf simulators, and Digby’s Greenside Tavern, serving lunch and dinner. With indoor golf, the Clubhouse is now a year-round operation. www.skipworkplaygolf.com
Finally, about 40 minutes further north, is the seaside town of Boothbay Harbor. The drive to Boothbay Harbor down the peninsula on Route 27 is where you’ll see beautiful, historic old houses and breathtaking views that truly illustrate why Maine is “the way life should be”. When you reach the Harbor itself, you’re in the middle of a thriving main street full-to-bursting with shopping, dining and lodging-- but that has somehow retained all the small-town warmth and charm that you’d hope it would.
Between the busy Harbor full of lobster boats and the rest of the world, you’ll find the Boothbay Country Club.
The course is just 5 minutes from the shops and restaurants in downtown Boothbay Harbor... but surrounded by the whispering pine trees and rustling oaks as you play, you’d never know it. Boothbay is regarded as one of the most scenic and upscale golf courses in Maine and has repeatedly received acclaim regionally as a “Must Play” course. www.boothbaycountryclub.com For More information about Golf in Maine, visit www.GolfME.com or call 877-553-4653