A Magical Maine Trip Beckons

Sugarloaf Golf Course Hole 16

Maine has miles and miles of rugged ocean coastline, forests, rivers and lakes, mountains and, of course, lots of wonderful golf courses, some of them dating back 100 years or so and others of recent vintage. Why not plan a trip to the Pine Tree state and blend a week’s worth of golf with charming hotels and bed and breakfast establishments, great seafood, and a plethora of outdoor activities, from kayaking and fishing to hiking and sailing.

Here is a sampling of the some of the best courses you can play in Maine, thanks to Golfing Magazine’s Course Play Stimulus Program.

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Established in 1895 by Arthur Fenn and re-designed by Donald Ross in 1912, the Links at Poland Spring (www.PolandSpringInns.com) claims to be the first golf course built at a resort in the United States. Poland Spring Resort recently added a new 330-yard driving range with natural grass, artificial tees, and a spectacular view of the rugged White Mountains. After a round at Poland Spring you can relax on the clubhouse porch overlooking the championship golf course at Mel’s Hilltop Restaurant, or grab a quick bite at the Pro Shop Café before you join your family for a swim in the large crystal clear swimming pool, all just a few yards from the 18th green. The Inn offers many options for dining, such as a home cooked breakfast and evening meals that are served daily, buffet style, in a comfortable dining room.

Links at Poland Spring

Spring Meadows Golf Club (www.SpringMeadowsGolf.com ) at Cole Farms in Gray is a delightful routing, with management taking great pride in the conditioning of their layout. The course measures 6,656 yards from the tips and plays to a par of 71. The par-fives here are very sturdy, including the 600-yard third that tests your ability early in the round. Speaking of early, you can’t have a much more demanding start to a loop than the first at Spring Meadow. The par-four plays 430 yards from the tips and there is  a pond to the right that must be avoided on the tee shot. If you play safe to the left you will have a longer approach that again must contend with the water and a bunker.

Spring Meadows Golf Club, the Links at Poland Spring, and Fox Ridge Golf Club are part of the Maine Trifecta (www.MaineTrifecta.com ) golf offering, were you can golf all three and stay at Poland Spring Resort for two different prices; $319, which includes lodging, three all-you-can-eat buffet meals, 18 holes at each course, golf carts and range balls at each course; and the $339 Deluxe Trifecta, which includes the above plus upgraded accommodations and four buffet meals. All rates are per person, double occupancy, plus seven percent Main sale tax.

The Bethel Inn Resort (www.BethelInn.com ) golf course in Bethel, built just over 100 years ago, remained nine holes of little recognition until 1988 when it was redesigned and expanded to an 18-hole championship layout by the renowned architect Geoffrey Cornish. The  6,663-yard, par-72 course takes maximum advantage of mountain vistas and the natural beauty of the area. Large, well-trapped greens, tree-lined fairways and five tee positions make play challenging for all golfers.

There is a pleasant mix of short and long par-fours, tough par-threes, and demanding par-fives that will test the ability of all levels of golfer. America’s Greatest Golf Resorts magazine has rated the Bethel Inn layout among the top 10 resort courses in the Northeast, and Golf Digest magazine has awarded it 3 1/2 stars.

Bethel Inn Resort Golf Course
Bethel, Maine

Riverside Golf Course (www.RiversideGolfCourseME.com) is owned and operated by the City of Portland. The popular and traditional public golf facility first opened in 1932. The facility features an 18-hole course, a 9-hole course and a 3-hole practice course. The classic layout, rolling hills and tree-line fairways are bordered by the Presumpscot River.

The toughest hole on the 18-hole course is the 554-yard 10th hole, a par-five. The tee shot is elevated to a low, long and wide fairway bordered by a water hazard the left. The approach to the green is guarded by a line of pine trees on the left and more water on the right. There are also bunkers on both sides of the putting surface. The nine-hole course is a feel good layout with four of the first five holes shortish par-fours. There is only one par-five, the 540-yard sixth, that can prove tough if you wander on your tee shot and second strike of the ball.

Dunegrass Country Club (www.Dunegrass.com) in Old Orchard Beach has been offering local and visiting golfers the opportunity to experience an uncommonly high caliber of golf for Maine and New England since 1998. Designed by internationally known golf course architect, Dan Maples, Dunegrass Golf Club has quickly gained the reputation as the Portland area’s premier public golf course. Maples imbued the course with the look and feel of a layout one might find in the Carolinas.

The par-threes at Dunegrass are all very good and water comes into play on the four short holes. The 17th can play almost 200 yards from the tips and has water short and to the right of the putting surface.

Golfing in Maine
Dunegrass Golf Course
Old Orchard Beach, ME

One of the most spectacular and scenic courses in New England, the Sunday River Golf Club (www.SundayRiver.com ) is a Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design featuring 18 breathtaking holes that wind through the Maine woods and over dramatic elevation changes in a stunning mountainside setting. Overlooking the Sunday River Valley with the Mahoosuc range towering above, the course follows the natural topography of the landscape while striking the perfect balance between challenge and playability. Facilities include a clubhouse, restaurant and bar, pro shop, and practice range.

Sunday River Golf Club
17th Hole

As Maine’s premier golf destination, Sugarloaf Golf Club (www.Sugarloaf.com )is a must-play for any golfer. This Robert Trent Jones Jr. design provides golfers with stunning panoramic mountain views and an unforgettable experience from first tee to final putt.72 6,910. Aptly named for the course’s designer, the first hole plays downhill, and is a dogleg right par-four that is as demanding as it is scenic. The hole offers your first glimpse of the Bigelow Mountain Range. Be sure to factor in elevation change on both your tee shot and approach. Bunkers to the left and right guard the small green.

Lake Kezar Country Club (www.LakeKezarGolf.com ) in Lovell is one of the oldest courses in Maine, built in 1923, when several summer camp owners recognized the need for a golf course to entertain summer visitors. The world-renowned golf architect, Donald Ross, was chosen to design the course. His trademark design was “naturalness”, which is evident at Lake Kezar, with the course flowing through pines, stone walls, brooks and flowers. The back nine was added in 1998. The course offers four sets of tees. The design invites you to bump and run it onto the green whenever you can to avoid trouble behind several of the greens.

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John Torsiello is Editor of Golfing Magazine New England and an Associate Editor for Golfing Magazine New Jersey-Eastern Pa. He lives in Torrington, Connecticut and part-time in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. John has written extensively about all aspects of the golf industry for a number of national and other regional publications. He has won over two dozen awards for his writing,