Editor’s note: One in series profiling Maine golf courses.
CHARLESTON, Maine — When the golf match is tight and a solid approach shot is required, the usual advice is to aim for the flag.
If WhiteTail Golf Course is hosting the match, the competitors would be advised to remember which color flag they’re shooting at.
WhiteTail, under new owners Ken and Sharon Martin, has brought something special to the state’s golf courses: two flags per hole, one red and one blue.
There are golf courses in Maine that have a shared green for two different holes, but WhiteTail, which has large greens for each of its nine holes, may be the only one in Maine that has two cups on every green. And no holes share a green.
Ken Martin had seen that more than once at clubs in his native New Hampshire, and he was surprised to learn that it isn’t used more often in Maine.
That’s not the only difference the course has seen since the Martins bought it on March 16.
“Since we’ve been here, I’ve added irrigation to all the tee boxes, which was not here,” said Ken Martin. “It’s all in-ground, pop-up [sprinklers].”
“Every green, every tee box,” added Sharon Martin.
“We’ve doubled the irrigation basically,” said Ken Martin “Put in two new sand traps, refurbished a couple others, built two new tee boxes, refurbished tee boxes, renovated the clubhouse, the list goes on and on.”
Martin said it has been keeping him busy.
“How’s that possible in three months? I haven’t slept much,” he said.
“He doesn’t,” said Sharon. “He sleeps with one eye open. He always has. It took some getting used to.”
The first hole is a long par five, straight up a long incline of a hill where most of the course lies. It’s 515 yards from the blue tees, 494 from the white and 465 from the red. Upon reaching the green, golfers are greeted by a vista sweeping from the southeast, in the direction of Cadillac, to a similar mountain view of what could be the Camden hills in the south-southwest.
The next two holes, both par threes, go back downhill.
The second hole is 136 yards from the white tees, and the approach to the green is deceiving because there is a slight dip that masks how far the hole is. A little extra club might be required.
The third hole is 176 yards from the elevated white tees with a pond in front of the tees. Another pond is left of the green, seemingly off the line of travel of the ball, but Martin said that could be incorrect, because people trying to avoid the trees on the right bring the pond into play.
“If someone was brave enough to dive in there, he could probably come up with 300 or 400 balls,” said Martin, smiling. Ask permission first.
The fourth hole continues the downward progression, but a tee shot from the white and red tees first has to go over a slight rise that blocks a view of a fairway that slopes right-to-left. The hole is 235 yards from the whites, 215 from the reds. A fairway wood or hybrid is recommended for the tee shot. The blue tees (245 yards) are left of the other two and turn the hole into a dogleg left. A tee shot of about 160-180 yards will get golfers to the middle of the fairway. Adventurous ones may try to draw a driver toward the green, but a mound and a bunker on the left corner come into play more.
The fifth hole is another par three (176 yards from the blue tees near Route 15, 150 and 132 from the others), but Martin said it’s more like a par four for most people because of having to hit from elevated tees over a stream and up another bank to a two-tiered green.
Tall pines flank the right side, but there is a mowed rough on the left as a bailout. Don’t pull it too far left because of a large patch of five-foot-high grass.
“It’s intimidating because of the look that you have through the trees, the narrowness of it,” said Martin. “And they just usually pull the wrong club out [of the bag] or they don’t swing hard enough or they swing too hard. They struggle with it. … It’s not that long, it’s just that everybody fights with it.”
The sixth hole starts back uphill, a slight dogleg right of 291 to 329 yards. Fairway mounds look close to the green, but they’re a good 20-30 yards short of it. This green is tiered also, but the ridge runs diagonally from upper left to lower right.
The seventh is another uphill dogleg right, from 305 (reds) to 390 yards (blues). Martin is thinking of pushing the tee blocks farther back and making it a second par five. This green is relatively flat but deep. And there’s that vista again.
The eighth hole is a long par four (334 up to 435 yards) that starts back downhill.
“I think [No.] 5 is the signature hole,” said Martin. “As far as my favorite, it would be No. 8 from the blues. … The ball in the air with the view behind it. It’s just a nice hole.”
The approach is protected by a bunker and a mound and small trees in the right rough require a player to be careful about going too far right. It’s also the No. 1 handicap hole.
The ninth hole (par four, 319 to 395 yards) has trees down the entire left side of the property, encouraging a tee shot down the right side. There are two bunkers, one on the right side approaching the green and the other to the right of the green.
“It is straightforward, and it can be challenging for the better golfer and relatively comfortable for any golfer,” said Martin. “It’s not extremely difficult, but it’s not easy.”
WhiteTail Golf Course
Address: 373 School Road, Charleston (just off Route 15)
Owners: Ken and Sharon Martin
Course opened: 1997
Yards: 2,784 (blue tees), 2,577 (white), 2,358 (red)
Hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. (last tee time)
Important Note: No credit card reader yet, so cash only.
Green fees, weekdays: $13 (9 holes, walking), $18 (18, walking), $20 (9, with cart), $25 (18, cart), $20 (after 5 p.m., unlimited, with cart); weekends, holidays: $17 (9, walking), $23 (18, walking), $27 (9, cart), $35 (18, cart); pullcart: $5
Memberships: Single, $345; couple, $485; seniors (65 and over), $295 and $410; students (17 through college), $210; family (2 parents, 1 child), $600; same household, first additional, $75, each additional, $35