It’s hard to beat the state of Maine for a truly unique, memorable and action-packed golf vacation.
From the crashing waves along the ocean shores to secluded lakes and majestic mountainsides, the Pine Tree State offers a plethora of golf options and some of the best courses in New England.
Here’s a look at six tracks that you simply must visit this summer.
As if the course and facility weren’t good enough already, the owners of Boothbay Country Club in Boothbay have added a new practice area, built new tee boxes to make the layout more woman and senior friendly and thinned out some wooded areas and cleared underbrush to speed up play.
“The course and especially the greens weathered the winter well and the course is in the best condition that we’ve ever experienced in spring,” said Jim Reeves, president of the club.
Boothbay is a “classic” course, measuring 6,306 yards from the tips and having a slope rating of 130, which tells you something about the challenge you’ll encounter at this par-70 lovely. Opened in 1921, none other than early American golf icon Francis Ouimet holds the original course record when it was a nine-hole track.
Boothbay also renovated its kitchen/dining/bar facilities and brought in renowned chef George Schimert to prepare an extraordinary repertoire of dishes. The clubhouse art galley has a fine display of paintings in keeping with the cultural flavor of the surrounding area.
“Boothbay Country Club is fortunate to be situated in a beautiful place and our goal is to provide residents and guests with the golf or dining experience that is pure Maine and pure Boothbay,” said Reeves.
Brad Booth created a wonderful golf course in York called The Ledges Golf Club. The rugged New England terrain frames this 6,978-yard gem that plays to a par of 72.
The signature hole here is number right, a picture postcard of a par-three that measures a whopping 220 yards from the back markers and plays over a pond to a green that is guarded by bunkers on two sides.
“We are best known for our greens,” said Matt Blasik, golf professional at the club. “They are fast, undulating and challenge players of all abilities. We provide a great product and friendly, familiar service. People feel welcome here and we strive to make the public players feel like members for a day. People also enjoy the tranquility of our setting, with no houses or condos to contend with.”
The facility expanded its clubhouse and kitchen facilities recently, and the driving range was reworked with a synthetic tee-line and an all new grass tee driving range space.
Brian Silva lent his expertise to the design of The Links at Outlook in, a prime example of an “American links” routing.
In a nod to the legendary Scottish courses Silva incorporated what he calls random bunkering into his design to make the player think out each shot.
The Links at Outlook in South Berwick, only a short drive from the ocean, is mostly open to the elements, with each hole posing its own set of problems, whether they are fairway bunkers, sloping greens, or deep rough off the fairways.
While not overly long--only 6,423 from the back tees--The Links at Outlook can play difficult in windy conditions. None of the par-fours on the back side measure over 388 yards. But Silva placed a premium on accuracy off the tee and proper club selection on approach shots in order to stay out of trouble.
The toughest hole on the course is the 451-yard par-four second. And the other three of the first four holes--two par-fives and a 206-yard par-three, also test the player right out of the box.
One of the top new courses to open during the past decade in Maine is Nonesuch River Golf Club in Scarborough.
The extremely scenic, 6,300-yard, par-70 layout was designed by Tom Walker, who created a course that, while not long, demands thoughtful approaches to each hole and accurate placement off the tee and on shots to the greens.
The eighth hole is one of the toughest par-fours on the course. It measures 413 yards from the tips and has heavy rough, two ponds and two bunkers guarding the putting surface.
The 10th hole, a 492-yard par-five, is reachable in two for big hitters but is not without its dangers. The 13th, a 397-yard par-four, is considered the course’s signature hole. A well-struck tee shot left of fairway bunkers will get you around or past the 150-yard marker. The approach is to a wide, somewhat shallow green.
The 18th is a solid finisher, playing 435 yards from the back markers. The tee shot must reach a plateau in the fairway to shorten the second shot.
The club redid its fifth hole by placing two fairway bunkers on the right side of the fairway landing area and a new bunker near the green.
The sixth green, a par-three, has a new approach/chipping area in the front and two ponds have been connected in front of the green to give the look of an island green.
“We feel we continue to offer the best golf for the dollar in southern Maine,” said Dan Hourihan, the club’s general manager. “Our motto is `Fun, Friendly and Affordable.’”
Point Sebago Resort in Casco occupies 775 acres along the shores of Sebago Lake, two and a half hours north of Boston. Point Sebago’s course has been ranked number one in southern Maine by Golf Digest and one of the top 20 golf courses in New England by the New England PGA Professionals.
Designed by renowned golf course architects George Sargent and Philip Wogan, this scenic par-72 course covers 7,002 yards and has a slope rating of 135.
Point Sebago has two of the best finishing holes you’ll find anywhere.
The 17th is a demanding, uphill 202-yard par-three 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 18th is a classic par-five. It measures just 527 yards from the back markers and the putting surface can be attained in two. But the drive must be to the right side of the fairway for the proper view in, and there’s a small pond that guards the green. The smart play is a lay-up second shot to set up a wedge into the wide green.
Mike Cloutier takes over as director of golf at Point Sebago after a brief stint as director of golf at Paris Hill Country Club. He previously was an assistant and then head pro at Point Sebago.
“The course is in excellent shape and our rounds are up approximately 15 percent over last year.” He adds that the pro shop has received a new shipment of golf clubs to better cater to the needs of members and guests.
Sugarloaf Golf Club in Carabassett Valley, Me, is perhaps the most scenic and challenging golf course in New England.
The Robert Trent Jones, Jr. wonder, which has a rating of 74.4 and a slope of 151 from the back markers, has six holes on the back side where the crystal clear Carabassett River comes into play, including the simply incredible, 216-yard par-three 11th. The tee shot is from a dramatically elevated area and plays across the river below to a large green.
The 401-yard 14th and the 178-yard 15th also play across the Carabassett River. It’s no wonder this stretch of holes as been called “The String of Pearls.”
Sugarloaf is all the golf course you will ever want in more ways than one. Its difficulty will challenge even the most accomplished players, while dazzling every visitor with unmatched natural beauty. It is no wonder golfers of all abilities for years have been making what amounts to something of a pilgrimage to the wilds of western Maine to play this magnificent track.
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