Maine - Great Golf, Great Views and Great Food
By Tom Landers
Published on 03/9/2005
It Must be Maine
From the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean to the panoramic vistas of the White Mountains, Maine is truly a state of natural wonders. And set amid nature's startlingly beautiful tapestry are some of the finest, most awe-inspiring golf courses in the Northeast. Whether it is the sight of lobster boats heading out as you play the fifth-hole at Samoset Golf Club Resort (often called the Pebble Beach of the East) or gazing at the purple mountains of Maine's interior while standing on the tee high atop 11th hole at Sugarloaf/USA Golf Course, the Pine Tree State offers a unique and exciting golf getaway. And it's all within easy driving distance of the Northeast's major cities. Maine is quickly gaining a reputation as a suddenly percolating hotbed of East Coast public access golf. And it's all eminently affordable. Greens fees at most of the top clubs run in the $50 to $60 range, cart included. The Maine golf season generally runs from May to October and summer and autumn can be simply dazzling. For apres golf, there's 5,500 miles of coastline, hundreds of pristine lakes and ponds and half a million acres of state and national parks to camp, hike, canoe or bike. There are over 6,000 hotel rooms available between Portland (a chic, clean waterfront city with plenty of great restaurants and pubs) and venerable Old Orchard Beach. Accommodations range from first class hotels and inns--many near or oceanfront--to cozy bed and breakfast establishments. And, oh, the food! Some claim that Portland has more restaurants per capita than any other city the U.S. except for San Francisco. Whether you dine in the city or in one of the state's charming small towns and villages, the seafood is, of course, fresh and scrumptious. You can also find just about any cuisine your palate desire at one of Maine's hundreds of great restaurants. Whether it's five-star dining you are looking for or a boiled lobster and a basket of French fries after a round, you'll find it here. So pack the sticks in the car, round up the family or your buddies and head north, where the golf, and the living, is great…..in Maine. The Links at Outlook Golf Club offers a bit of Scotland in Maine. The course is routed through rolling dunes with sand bunkers scattered about the layout to punish wayward shots. The par-71 course was laid out over a former working farm, and features ample fairways that make it open and playable for all skill levels. The tract plays to 6,500 yards and offers superb views of the surrounding wide open Maine countryside. Facilities include a full pro-shop, a grill room and lounge. Club, cart and pull-cart rentals are available. SouthBerwick, 207-657-2786. www.outlookgolf.com.
The Ledges Golf Course designed by Maine-based Brad Booth, is located in the charming and historic southern Maine seaside town of York. The first nine opened in 1998 and the second the following year. The par-72 course features ample, rolling fairways with some dramatic elevation changes. The Ledges is routed though the abundant rock outcroppings of the area and attractive birch forests. A real test from the championship tees (6,978 yards), the course has several sets of tees down to 4,997 yards from the forward markers. Facilities include a full pro shop, a restaurant, driving range, practice green and practice bunker. Club and cart rentals are available. York. 207-351-3000. www.ledgesgolf.com. Sugarloaf/USA Golf Club is set amid the wilds of the western Maine's Carrabassett Valley mountain region and offers some of the most spectacular golf found anywhere. Designed by noted architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. to attract summer visitors to the ski area, the course has become famous for its "String of Pearls," a series of holes on the backside that play near and over the wild Carrabassett River. The 11th hole here is a scintillating par-three with an elevated tee shot having to clear the river below to a green almost 200 yards away. The par-72 course features numerous doglegs, narrow fairways and large well-bunkered and undulating greens cut through the thickly wooded mountainside. The course plays a burly 6,910 yards from the back tees to 5,376 from the forward markers. Facilities include a full pro shop, driving range, practice green and bunker, a restaurant, lounge and accommodations. Cart, pull-cart and club rentals are available. Instruction is offered at an award-winning golf school. Kingfield. 207-237-2000. www.sugarloaf.com.
Samoset Golf Club and Resort, located midway up the Maine coastline, is often referred to as the "Pebble Beach of the East." Indeed, the par-70 coastal treasure plays along the Atlantic Ocean for many of its first nine holes before winding inland. The most notable holes are the third, a difficult, 175-yard par three that plays uphill with the ocean to the left, and the par five 508-yard fourth hole that winds along the ocean and finishes at a green that affords splendid views of Rockport Harbor. (You can hear the lobstermen chatting as they head out to check on their day's catch.) A redesign of several holes on the back side is complete with a newly configured par-five 12th-hole. The course plays 5,087 yards from the forward tees to a modest 6,548 from the back. Facilities include a full pro shop, driving range, practice green and practice bunker, a restaurant, lounge and accommodations at the resort. Club, cart and pull-cart rentals are available with instruction offered at a golf school. Rockport. 1-800-341-1650. www.samoset.com.
Cape Neddick Country Club has developed a reputation as a friendly test of golf. Donald Ross designed the course's original nine holes in the early 1900's. In 1996, Brian Silva lent his expertise to a new nine holes that followed Ross' design philosophy. In addition, a modern irrigation system has greatly improved the overall condition of the layout. There are a number of delightful, shortish par fours here. The big hitter will toy with trying to drive the green on the 327-yard fourth hole, which has a small pond to the left side of the green. The par-three, 168-yard eighth hole plays over water. The course plays from 4,904 yards to a modest 6,066 yards from the back tees. Facilities include a full pro shop, practice area, a restaurant and club and cart rentals. Oqunquit. 207-362-2011. www.capeneddickgolf.com. Point Sebago Golf Club and Resort on Sebago Lake, Maine's second largest and most popular lake, has won accolades as one of the best buys for the money in the country since it opened in 1996. Designed by George Sargent and Phillip Wogan, 14 of the par-72 course's 18 holes are lined by white birch and pine trees. There are also a series of small ponds and streams that demand accuracy off the tee and on approach shots to the ample greens. The course plays from 5,645 to slightly over 7,000 yards from the back. Facilities include a full pro shop, driving range, practice green and practice bunker, a restaurant, lounge and accommodations. Club, and cart rental are available. Casco. 207-655-2747. www.pointsebago.com.
Sable Oaks Golf Club is located in the heart of Portland, the state's largest city and only five miles from the city's airport. The par-70 Sable Oaks was designed by Geoffrey Cornish and Brian Silva and features narrow fairways, large, slick greens and ample bunkers. This is not a course for the faint of grip. It demands superb shot making and a steady touch around and on the undulating putting surfaces. The owners have taken steps in recent years to make the course a more playable for golfers of all abilities and there are several sets of tees--from 4,786 to 6,359 yards. Facilities include a full pro shop, practice green, a restaurant and lounge, instruction and a locker room. Club, cart and pull cart rentals are available. Portland. 207-755-6257. www.sableoaks.com. Natanis Golf Club has been recognized as one of the top public courses in the United States and is one of central Maine's most popular golfing venues with more than 45,000 rounds played each year. There are 27 holes configured into three separate 18-hole combinations, so despite the heavy play getting a tee time is not a problem. The eminently playable courses feature fairly wide-open fairways that pass through former pastureland before heading into the woods. The 18-hole course plays from 5,376 to 6,667 yards. Facilities include a full pro shop, driving range, practice green and bunker, a locker room, snack, bar, and lounge. Instruction is available as are club, cart and pull-cart rental. Vassaloro. 207-622-3561. www.natanisgc.com. Kebo Valley Club, located in the charming seaside town of Bar Harbor, was established in 1888, making it the eighth oldest club in the U.S. Consistently ranked as one of the top "classic" courses in the country, it is set in the shadow of Cadillac Mountain in nearby Arcadia National Park. Kebo Valley, a par-70, is a relatively short course, measuring only 6,131 yards from the back tees. But don't let the yardage fool you. The holes here place a stringent demand on accuracy off the tee and proper shot placement on all approach shots to the smallish greens. Facilities include a full pro shop, a driving range, practice green and practice bunker, a locker room, snack bar and lounge. Instruction is available as is club, cart and pull-cart rental. Bar Harbor. 207-288-5000. www.kebovalleyclub.com. Dunegrass Golf Club, designed by North Carolina-based architect Dan Maples meanders over 320 acres of sand dunes and hilly woodlands near Old Orchard Beach, one the country's oldest and leading tourist destinations. There is a distinct Carolina feel to the par-71 course because of the sandy waste bunkers and pine needled rough areas. The putting surfaces are undulating and tricky with ample bunkering making approach shots a challenge. The course plays from 5,479 yards to a manageable 6,515 yards from the back tees. Facilities include a full pro shop, a driving range, practice green, practice bunker, restaurant, lounge, and a locker room. Instruction is available as are club, cart and pull-cart rentals. Old Orchard Beach. 800-521-1029. www.dunegrass.com.
The course at Bethel Inn & Country Club was another design of Geoffrey Cornish and Brian Silva, who created a stunningly beautiful and challenging "mountain" course that some have called a prototype for other such layouts that followed. The par-3's here are particularly difficult, and with the White Mountains as the backdrop, the course offers some of the most exhilarating views in all of Maine golf. The par-72 course plays from 5,280 to 6,663 yards. Facilities include a full pro shop, a driving range, a practice green, a restaurant, lounge, and a golf school. Club, cart and pull cart rentals are available. Bethel. www.bethelinn.com. Nonesuch River Golf Club, opened in 1997 and designed by Florida-based Tom Walker, has won rave reviews for its interesting and challenging layout. Nonesuch offers a blend of open, links-style and woodland holes that challenge the recreational and accomplished golfer alike. Measuring only 6,300 yards from the back tees, the par-70 Nonesuch places a premium on accuracy and proper positioning of the ball off the tee. The medium-sized greens have some undulation and slope, making them tricky if attacked from the wrong side. Facilities include a full pro shop, a practice range and green and a golf academy and restaurant. Scarborough. 888-256-2717. www.nonesuchgolf.com. Spring Meadow Golf Club is one of southern Maine's newest 18-hole layouts. The designers used approximately 190 acres of farm and woodland to create a true and scenic test of golf. There are four sets of tees to meet the skill levels of all visitors. An 80-year-old barn has been converted into a clubhouse, pro shop and banquet facility. The par-71 course plays from 4,906 to 6,637 yards and features inviting fairways and fairly large greens that reward properly placed approach shots. Facilities also include a lounge, snack bar. Club, cart and pull-cart rentals are available. Gray. 207-657-2586. www.springmeadowsgolf.com. Sanford Country Club is nestled on the edge of Bauneg Beg Pond, which comes into play on several holes. The par-72 course was originally established a nine-hole layout in 1924 with another nine added in 1997. Architect Marvin Armstrong blended his new holes into the original Alex Chisholm nine to create a course that demands accuracy and wise course management. Four sets of tees up to 6,700 yards allow every skill level to enjoy the layout. Facilities include practice range, practice green and bunker. Lessons and cart and club rentals are available. Sanford. 207-324-5462. www.sanfordcountryclub.com. Fox Ridge Golf Club features a gentle blend of rolling hills, babbling brooks, century old stone walls and stone bridges. Players will enjoy several island greens that test the nerves and ability on the par-72 tract. Situated on some 200 acres of rolling farmland, Fox Ridge's designers took advantage of the superb natural lay of the land to create a varied golf course that calls for every shot in the bag. Facilities include a full pro shop, a lounge, practice area and club and cart rentals. The course stretches from 4,959 to a challenging 6,814 yards. Auburn. 207-777-4653. www.foxridgegolfclub.com. Belgrade Lakes Golf Course won immediate acceptance as one of the top new upscale layouts when it opened in 1999. The course was designed by British golfing great Clive Clark, who called Belgrade Lakes "truly one of the most beautiful places I've seen." The course, challenging yet fair for all skill levels, features stunning views of the surrounding countryside of the Maine interior, including Great and Long ponds. Although the par-72 tract is mostly laid out atop high ground, it is considered "very walkable" for all ages. Belgrade Lakes plays 6,653 yards from the tips and 4,881 yards from the forward tees. Facilities include a full pro shop, a practice green and snack bar. Club and pull-cart rentals are available as are caddy services. Belgrade Lakes. 207-495-4653. www.belgradelakesgolf.com. While Maine's courses are too many to mention in detail, here are a few other gems to check out: The 6,645-yard, par-72 Brunswick Golf Club (207-725-8224) in the town of Brunswick is a challenging mid-coast layout that features a long front nine followed by a more open homeward side where birdies can be found. The par-72 Shore Acres Golf Club at the Sebasco Harbor Resort (207-389-9060) in Bath was redesigned in 2001 and offers superb views of Casco Bay. The scenery is spectacular at Presque Island Country Club (207-764-0430) in Presque Island. The 6,730-yard, par-72 layout near Aroostock River, was opened in 1957 and has hosted a number of tournaments over the years. A couple of nine-hole layouts also demand attention. The semi-private Northport Golf Club (207-338-2270), built in 1916, offers views of Penobscot Bay. A new irrigation system has improved conditions dramatically. St. Croix Country Club (207-454-8875) in Calais, built in 1927, is located on the Maine border with Canada and claims to be the easternmost course in the U.S. Travelers are sometimes surprised to find the delightful little nine-hole Wilson Lake Country Club (207-645-2016), when they venture to Maine's far north interior. The legendary Donald Ross lent his mastery to the design of the 3,205-yard Lucerne Hills Golf Club (207-843-6282) in Dedham. Accommodations / Dining Looking for lodging/golf deals in Maine? Want to know where to find the freshest lobster, the coldest beer or the best 19th hole to watch the sunset? Maine offers a myriad of dining and lodging choices. Southern Coast Region The Brunswick Hotel (800-521-1029) on the ocean in Old Orchard Beach offers motel and condominium accommodations for all size groups. Try the haddock sandwich here, it is one of the best. Also on the ocean, The Holiday House Inn and Motel (207-883-4417) is located on a quiet section of Old Orchard Beach. Both offer golf packages with Dunegrass Golf Course, one of the area's best layouts. York Harbor Inn offers ocean view rooms with AC and phones. There are decks, Jacuzzis, fireplaces and a restaurant on premises featuring shrimp, scallops, haddock and lobster! Cape Neddick Inn (207-363-2899) has been York_s leading restaurant since it opened in 1979 and has been totally revamped. The menu is large and varied. Ruby_s in York (207-363-7980) offers a casual atmosphere, seafood, pizza and pasta, with some of the best burgers and coldest beer in the area. Windows on the Water (207-967-3313) a casual, gourmet restaurant is located in Kennebunk and features fine contemporary cross-cultural cuisine. Dockside Restaurant (207) 363-2722 has the best view of York harbor and offers a variety of seafood and beef entrees. Lobster Cove (207-351-1100) in York Beach offers family dining and great ocean views. Enjoy a lobster on the outside deck. Greater Portland and Casco Bay Region The Holiday Inn Portland West (207-774-5601) has 200 comfortable rooms, dining and play & stay golf packages with Spring Meadows Golf Club. Amerisuites of Greater Portland (866-258-7254) has large, comfortable suites conveniently located close to many of the area's golf courses and offers play & stay packages with Sable Oaks Golf Club. The Black Point Inn (800-258-0003) is a traditional New England Inn, where guests gather for breakfast and dinner. Located on Prouts Neck, you can enjoy the crashing surf of the Atlantic Ocean, a sunset on Saco Bay or a cliff walk beside the sea. Cuisine features classic American and traditional dishes with emphasis on fresh seafood. Dining in the Greater Portland area is an easy task with over 40 great restaurants located in the Old Port Area. DiMillo's Floating Restaurant (207-772-2216) is a great place to take in the sights and sounds of Portland. They feature fresh seafood, choice cuts of beef and Italian fare. Joseph's By the Sea (207-934-5044) in Old Orchard Beach, offers creative American/French cuisine, with a focus on locally caught seafood. Lakes/ Mountains Region The Point Sebago Resort offers resort cottages, park homes, travel trailers, an RV park, and a lake view restaurant on Southern Maine's largest lake making this an easy choice for the traveling golfer. The Sugarloaf Grand Summit Resort Hotel, (800-THE-LOAF) captures the spirit of mountain hotels of yesteryear. Studios, one- and two-bedroom condos, suites and penthouses are available-all with views of western Maine's majestic mountains. The Sugarloaf Grand Summit Resort Hotel offers lodging, dining, fitness room and conference center all under one roof. Hug's (207-237-2392) offers fine Italian cuisine in a cozy setting. The Bethel Inn (800-654-0125) is a complete resort with award winning dinning, pools, tennis courts and beautiful mountain vistas. In Auburn, Fireside Inn & Suites (207-777-1777) consists of 82 guest rooms, 16 2-bedroom suites and meeting rooms, as well as Mac's Grill (207-783-6885), which serves up the very best in hand cut angus beef in the state. Kennebec and Moose River Region Senator Inn & Spa in Augusta, centrally located in Maine's capital city, has luxury rooms and suites with fireplaces, Jacuzzi, and a balcony at reasonable rates. There's complimentary hot breakfasts and award-winning Maine dining. And it's convenient to coast and area golf courses. Wings Hill Inn (866-495-2400) is a 200-year-old post-and-beam farmhouse ideally located between Long Pond and Great Pond in the quaint village of Belgrade Lakes. Having reopened in May 2001, the Inn is a relaxing, comfortable, romantic haven. Gourmet dining is available in the dining room. Mid-Coast Region The Samoset Resort (207-594-0774) is an AAA Four Diamond award winning resort located on 230 ocean-side acres. With 178 luxurious guestrooms and suites, three on-property dinning establishments, a full fitness center and an 18-hole championship golf course, it is the perfect family vacation. Dining is also a great experience as guests can choose from the classic elegance of Marcel's or the casual comfort of the Breakwater Cafe or Clubhouse Grille.The best lobster in Maine can be found in Rockland on way to Samoset at Taste of Maine (207-443-4554). If you like great lobster, cold beer, dining room or sundeck option overlooking Pleasant Cove then this is the place. As you travel up Rt. 1 towards Samoset the trip would not be complete without breakfast at Moody_s Diner (207-832-5362) in Waldoboro. For 75 years, Moody's has been a national icon, serving great food to more than a million customers.