by Pete Webber
One thing people savor about Maine is the sense that time stands still. People who vacation here year after year are struck by the fact they can share and relive their childhood experiences with their own children. And while that may be true about the mom and pop general store where they bought their first nightcrawler or the drive-in movie theater they snuck into, it doesn't really apply to Maine's golf scene. Sure, there are some classic courses that have literally remained unchanged over the last couple decades but the past 10 years have seen an explosion of high quality public access courses – especially in the southern half of the state.
The late 1980s ushered in a new era for Maine golf as Sugarloaf and Sable Oaks opened and the Biddeford/Saco CC added a back nine. Renowned golf architects Robert Trent Jones, Jr, and Brian Silva led those projects and the public course landscape soon exploded. The golfing public was now able to experience fast smooth greens, irrigated fairways and conditions that rivaled the best private courses.
Since 1995, among Golf Maine members, over a dozen courses have opened, added a second nine holes or undergone radical facelifts.
1995-Point Sebago opens and Natanis adds a third nine
1996-Province Lake, under new ownership added length, irrigation and other significant upgrades – Cape Neddick opens a second nine
1997-Nonesuch River and Dunegrass open and Sanford adds a second nine
1998-The Ledges opens
1999-Belgrade Lakes opens
2000-Links at Outlook opens and Naples adds a second nine
2001-Spring Meadows and Fox Ridge open
2004/05-Sunday River opens
Most of these courses have garnered regional, if not national, acclaim and collectively they have elevated Maine's standing as a golf destination. The 2005 Golf Magazine Top 100 You Can Play list now includes both Sugarloaf and Belgrade Lakes – remarkable in that only 3 other New England courses made the list. Because the courses are so diverse in terms of price, layout, topography and overall difficulty, it's easy to plan a golf trip that will hit a lot of different sweet spots.
For a free and personalized Maine golf consultation just e-mail Golf Maine's Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-553-4653. www.golfme.com