KENDUSKEAG, Maine — Updates to Kenduskeag Golf and Country Club that have been five years in the making finally are coming to fruition.
“There was a time when I thought it would never happen,” owner Jim Poole said Tuesday.
The changes are a new third green, creating a short par 4; a long fourth hole that combines the rest of the old par-5 third with the short, uphill par-3 fourth; and, most dramatically, a new tee box on No. 8 that has turned a blind tee shot par 3 into a visually striking short par 4.
These changes were started in 2007 but they had lay dormant until Poole decided last year that he had to complete them.
The primary reason for the new third green was that the old green sat next to the Kenduskeag Stream.
“The stream flooded out No. 3 all the time, and the No. 4 tee box kept losing some [to the stream] each year. Something had to be done,” said Poole.
“I couldn’t have an eight-hole golf course,” he said.
So Poole finished building the third green, which sits on higher ground, and started growing grass.
“When I planted it last spring, I knew it would be a while before it was ready,” he said. “Then when I aerated and top-dressed it last fall, it looked like it would be ready in the spring.”
He was not prepared for how the green on the now 246-yard hole looked this spring. Dandelions had taken root and weeding required time-consuming manual labor until he found a weed killer that would get rid of the dandelions and leave the bentgrass alone.
“Come spring, it was ugly,” Poole said. “I almost gave up on it. One of the guys who was working with me stuck a flag in it and said we’re playing it.
“I’m glad he did it now.”
It took the players a while to reach Poole’s level of happiness.
“When we started out, I was getting a lot of bad reports on the green,” he said. “Now, [the reports] are pretty good.”
The bentgrass finally is taking over from the dandelions. It will be a while until it’s done but Poole thinks it’s moving in the right direction, especially with the recent rainy weather.
“The wet May and June didn’t benefit the course in general, but it did benefit that green,” he said.
The reaction to the 265-yard eighth hole has been more positive from the start, according to Poole. There are more ways to go wrong because now players are hitting their drives through a tree-lined chute over what eventually will be a drainage ditch and small pond.
“Guys joke about bringing their chain saws next time,” he said, chuckling.
He thinks they get the idea, though.
“Some recognize what could be our signature hole,” said Poole. It’s a challenging tee shot, “but it’s very rewarding when you hit it through the trees and over the pond.”
Plus, said Poole, it’s giving up a lot of birdies.
Many players felt frustrated by the old third hole because they had to hit three shots, at least, that were going to land somewhere near the stream. That feeling still exists but with a different focus.
The fourth hole is now 400 yards with an uphill approach shot.
“People hate No. 4 as much as they did the old No. 3,” said Poole, smiling. “It’s the stream. You’ve got to ride it all the way.
“Guys like me who swing wild, we’re either in the stream or in No. 7 [fairway].”
Poole said that he put the golf course on the market a couple of years ago. He wasn’t sure if he could stick with it.
It’s not on the market anymore. He and his family have settled in.
He hopes the course changes settle in with the players as well.
The 12th annual Bob Little Memorial Golf Tournament is scheduled for June 30 at Pine Hill Golf Club in Brewer. The tourney, which is a tribute to the man who founded the club 50 years ago, is a three-person scramble with an 8 a.m. shotgun start. The entry fee is $40 per person. Club manager Jay Collier said that’s a decrease of $5 per person compared with last year’s fee.
For information, call the club at 989-3824 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Joshua Chamberlain Golf Classic, a four-person scramble, will be held July 14 at Rocky Knoll Country Club in Orrington. The registration deadline is July 1 and the fee is $75 for an individual, $300 per foursome. Register at Brewer Parks & Rec at the Brewer Auditorium. For information, call 989-5199.
The deadline for Maine Amateur Championship entries is 5 p.m. Friday. The Maine Amateur will be held July 10-12 at Sunday River Golf Club in Newry. The Amateur qualifiers are June 26 at Biddeford-Saco Country Club in Saco, June 28 at Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn, and July 3 at Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono. The fee is $50 for the qualifiers and $125 for the Amateur. Players who are exempt (they made the cut in last year’s Amateur) must pay the full $125 by Friday. Players who advance from the qualifiers have five days to pay the additional $75 to complete their Amateur entry fee. At this point, registration likely must be done online at www.mesga.org to make the deadline.
Entries for the B&C Championships close July 18. The tournament is scheduled for July 30-31 at Waterville Country Club in Oakland. The entry fee is $100. Entry can be made online at www.mesga.org or by downloading the entry form and mailing it in. Mailed entries must arrive at the MSGA office by July 18.