Eastern Maine has lost one if its premier weekend golf tournaments with the cancellation of the Bar Harbor Bank and Trust Golf Tournament.
The stroke-play tournament, usually held around the first weekend in June, had been a major fundraiser for Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth, but sagging entries and the number of competing events brought about the decision.
“We’re disappointed, but we understood,” said Jane Sanderson, of the public relations/special events department at the hospital. “There’s a golf tournament almost every weekend during the summer.”
Sanderson said the event, held last year at Northeast Harbor Golf Club and Kebo Valley Golf Club in Bar Harbor, drew between 275 and 290 players in 2008.
“We would like 375-390,” she said.
Some years they drew even more than that.
“About 410 to 415 was our highest,” said Sanderson. “We are very capable of doing it.”
For many of its 17 years, it was held at Northeast Harbor and Bar Harbor Golf Course in Trenton. Half the field would play one course on Saturday and the other on Sunday. The other half of the field would do the reverse.
In any case, the number of volunteers needed was huge, according to Sanderson, and logistical concerns were, too.
“We had the fish chowder and ice cream sundaes [available for each participant] and we had to keep that going all day. It was very difficult,” she said.
Still, she said, “It was great fun and we’re going to miss it.”
The hospital will now add a Pops Concert, set for Aug. 2, as a fundraiser.
Sanderson thinks it may attract a different demographic.
“We found with golf, we were not attracting a lot of women,” she said. “With the concert, it can be something for both men and women, and for families.”
The golf tournament did raise “well over $300,000” during its run, helping projects such as acquiring intensive care unit beds, lymphoderma therapy, cardiac rehab scholarships and warming units so people going into and coming out of surgery get could have warm blankets.
“They were very comforting,” said Sanderson.
“[The projects] were things that were deemed useful but might not be in the budget,” Sanderson added.
She did appreciate what the sponsors and golfers allowed the hospital to accomplish.
“We’re so grateful for the support we’ve had,” she said.
The hospital still has a golf event among its fundraisers, the Schoodic Scramble, which is scheduled for Sept. 19-20 at Grindstone Neck Golf Course in Winter Harbor and Blink Bonnie Golf Course in Sorrento.
Sanderson said that one is much easier to put on.
“It’s easier to put on a team event, because they all start at the same time and they all finish at the same time,” said Sanderson.
And she isn’t ruling out a return to a spring golf tournament at some point.
“I’ve learned never to say no,” she said.
Play time nears
Golf course openings may start sprouting soon with Palmyra Golf Course possibly being the first.
Palmyra is planning to open its front nine at 7 a.m. Saturday to walkers only.
General manager Brian Cayer hopes to open the back nine by April 18. Call 938-4947 for more info.
Rockland Golf Club had planned to open Friday, but recent rains have delayed that, according to a message on the club’s answering machine.
Pro Keenan Flanagan is evaluating it day to day. The front nine there will also open first with the back to follow later. Call 594-9322 for info.