There’s a perception out there that Maine is nothing but lighthouses and lobsters. While Maine certainly has no shortage of either, savvy golfers have been gradually discovering another facet of Maine – great golf. OK, so maybe you’ve heard about the incredible public golf (three of the country’s Top 100 live here) in the country’s far Northeast corner but you’ve been told that the season is pretty much July and August. I’m here to tell you a secret that many Mainers will not want you to know. The golf season, especially along the Southern coast actually extends from April all the way through October and last year, some of us golfed from March to January. Sure, a lot depends on the severity of the winter and the wetness of the spring, but there are a handful of hardcore courses that will open as long as there is no snow and even the most mountainous courses are open for the better part of five months. If you only play weekends in the summer then you’re not only facing the largest crowds but you’re also getting hit with the peak greens fees. If you’re looking to save a few bucks so you can buy yourself and extra lobster, then read on.
Maine relies heavily on golfers from out of state so prices during the shoulder months (May, June, September and October) reflect the fact that courses are fighting over your business with reduced rates and specials. Go to www.golfme.com for a listing of 40 of Maine’s public access courses that are actively marketing themselves out of state. Click on individual courses and sign up for their e-newsletters for specials that the locals see in their daily newspapers. A few courses are even using their database of e-mails to send out offers when they see gaping holes in that week’s tee sheet.
Want an even more outrageous deal? 32 of Golf Maine’s members have joined forces to offer the Golf Maine Passport (www.golfme.com/passport). The Passport has one comped greens fee for each participating course and costs only $320. I already know what you’re thinking. A deal like that must have tons of restrictions like it can only be used on Tuesdays after 6:00PM in October. It doesn’t. The ONLY restriction is that it cannot be used before 1:00 on weekends and most courses even allow you to walk. And, get this, it includes Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Samoset, The Ledges and the Links At Outlook. There is one catch. Golf Maine only sells 60 each year so get moving. The 2007 Passports are almost gone but you can always get on the short list of invitees for 2008 if you get shut out this year.
Another tip for saving your hard-earned cash is to think like a golf course owner. They are always trying to fill tee times when things are slow. I play a course that, like most courses, has a league on Wednesday afternoons. Because the course is understandably wary of sending off groups in front of the league that will inevitably have to wait at the turn, they discourage golfers from making tee times for a couple hours prior to the league’s start. My group learned to take the last tee time in front of the league, grab a burger and cold beverage at the turn, and then follow the league on the back nine. Works like a charm. We get the twilight rate, nine incredibly fast holes and – bonus – the beverage cart is out. Maine was late getting the beverage carts legalized and the courses that run them often only do so when the course is relatively crowded (league nights and weekends). The lesson – be flexible, like eating in the middle of your round instead of at the end, and you’ll find some awesome deals.
The Golf Maine website includes a free golf concierge service via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). Want to know what courses fit your game and budget? No problem. Want to find a course with super fast greens? Bring it on. Want to know when the black flies are worst? We know when. Peak foliage? Piece of cake. It’s a unique service that allows you to customize a golf trip by course, location or the nearest outlet shopping if you’re not golfing alone. The website has a page dedicated to Stay and Plays as well as links to other activities. Some of the Stay and Plays in Maine include meals or unlimited golf and some seem to pretty much give the lodging away if you stay midweek. There are now even a few places that afford you the luxury of staying in one place while playing multiple courses. If you’re planning a golf trip to Maine, the Golf Maine website an invaluable tool.
or call (207) 883-9160 for more information