New green spices up PVCC for Bunyan

Posted June 03, 2009, at 10:17 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — The recipe for the 45th Harris Golf Paul Bunyan Amateur Golf Tournament sounds like the formula for a successful wedding: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

The old part is easy, the golf courses. The first golf holes at Kebo Valley Club in Bar Harbor came into play in 1891. Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono is a veritable spring chicken with play beginning in 1924.

PVCC is providing the new for this year’s event, which is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

The most dramatic new feature at PVCC is the third green, which was built 45 yards beyond where the original one was situated. It’s also more level and larger but with a ridge in the middle.

Opinions vary on how it will affect scores.

“I think it makes it easier,” said Rick Ambrose of Bangor, a former winner of the Maine Amateur Golf Championship and a member at PVCC. “It takes the two bunkers out of play.”

The bunkers, one in front of the left side of the green and one behind it, are also gone. In place of the bunkers and the severely sloped green is a shallow swale leading up to the new green.

“Overall, the third hole will be a more difficult birdie for the better player but an easier par,” said Chad Curley, head pro at PVCC.

The other plus for the players, according to Curley, is that “it will receive a shot from anywhere on the hole, not just the right side [because of the bunkering].”

When Harris Golf, which purchased PVCC in late 2007, cleared the brush for the third green, it also opened up a spot for a new tee area on the par-3 fourth hole. From that back tee, the hole will play about 172 yards, nearly 30 yards longer than before.

“That’ll be a good test,” said Curley of the hole which features another fast, sloped green. “You can’t miss it right and you can’t miss it long [and hope to have a shot at par].”

A new back tee on No. 8 will bring that hole to about 400 yards, up from its original 333 and more-recently-lengthened 366.

Add in the increased false fronts and expanded greens that legendary golf course designer Donald Ross originally had built in and the test gets a little harder.

Curley thinks the course will be a “fair and fun test” for the Bunyan.

“We don’t want to trick up the course,” he said. “We want it to play so if you hit a quality shot, you get rewarded for it.”

He just has two pieces of advice, which could count as the borrowed aspect.

“Play it as Donald Ross intended,” said Curley. “Stay below the hole [to avoid tricky downhill putts] and stay away from the short side [the area just off the green that’s closest to the flag].”

That advice will also work well at Kebo. The greens can be treacherously fast as well, but pro Peiter DeVos is going to try to keep them at a reasonable speed.

“The greens are running about 9¼ [on the Stimpmeter, about average],” said DeVos. “We’ll probably get them to 9½. We don’t want to make it too difficult.”

DeVos is enthusiastic about the condition of the course.

“We had a home-and-home match with Waterville [Country Club of Oakland] and they were raving about it,” said DeVos.

“We have some wet spots,” he added, “but the fairways are in great shape, the greens are in great shape and the tees are in great shape. We’re close to flawless!”

That means it’s possible for players at both courses — PVCC is firm and dry — could be playing the ball down (playing the ball as it lies with no relief necessary due to unplayable conditions).

“It’s great to see this weather coming together like this,” said DeVos. “I’m going to cross my fingers [and] knock on wood.”

That could mean the only things blue on the weekend are the skies and the ponds.

Sunday River opening Friday

Sunday River Golf Club in Newry is opening for the season Friday, now that the skis can be put away.

New this summer at Sunday River, which is also run by Harris Golf, is the Harris Golf Discovery School. The school includes programs for women and juniors and conducts Golf and Stay packages.

Go to www.sundayriver.com for details.

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