Weather issues hamper start of eastern Maine golf season

Posted April 21, 2017, at 4:01 p.m.

It was an unusual winter with two major storms and a lingering spell of cold weather that has spilled into late April.

Some golf courses, including Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono and Hermon Meadow Golf Club in Hermon, are already open.

Several others are scheduled to open next week, weather permitting.

The region’s only 27-hole course, Bangor Municipal Golf Course, will open on Monday for walking only.

“The course weathered very well,” said Bangor Muni pro Rob Jarvis. “There was a lot of ice buildup during the winter but we were proactive in getting that off. We broke up the ice on the greens so it would melt. If we hadn’t, the ice on top would have suffocated it and we would have seven or eight dead greens.

“We would have liked to have opened by this weekend but the forecast for the next couple of days didn’t look that great. Hopefully, it will dry out on Sunday so we’ll be ready to play on Monday,’ added Jarvis.

He also said the turf conditions over the past two years have been the best ever and “we expect it to keep improving.”

Jarvis announced that the Downeast Metro Amateur Golf Tournament, which uses both the Bangor Muni and Kebo Valley Club in Bar Harbor, will be held June 10-11 and the Greater Bangor Open Golf Tournament will be played July 19-22 starting with the pro-am.

Jason Harris, the golf pro at the Penobscot Valley Country Club, said the course has weathered well and that the greens are “beautiful.

“The course has dried up well,” said Harris.

Joe Johnston, who works at Hermon Meadow and is president of the Hermon Meadow men’s golf association, said the course is wet but all the greens came through the winter without damage and golfers can use carts as long as they stay on the cart paths.

Barry Madore, the golf pro at the Presque Isle Country Club, said he returned from Florida on March 24 only to be greeted by “two and a half to three feet of snow” on the course.

However, he feels May 1 is a realistic goal to open up.

“There wasn’t any frost in the ground so it melted quickly,” explained Madore.

“Our golf course is in the best shape I’ve seen it in during the 25 years I have been here,” said Madore. “I have never seen the fairways and tees look as good as they have.”

Presque Isle received snow twice earlier this week and the ground was covered on Thursday morning, but Madore reported that the snow “is all gone except for a few places.”

The lack of warm weather this month has hampered the process and he also noted that they haven’t had their usual breezy days which help to dry the course out.

“But that’s OK because the wind can be detrimental to new grass,” he said.

A nice stretch of warm days would certainly be helpful but he is optimistic they can open the first week of May which has been the norm.

Madore added that the long winter has impacted his members.

“They are anxious to play,” he said.

“Don’t all golf courses throughout Maine deserve a good spring? We haven’t had a good one in three or four years,” said Madore.

Mike Ellis, the pro at the St. Croix Country Club in Calais, is hoping to open within the next two weeks.

“We had a good winter. I’m pretty happy with how the greens came through. There is a lot of clay around these parts,” said Ellis. “The snow we got the night before last is actually good. It will help the greens. It’s poor man’s fertilizer.”

Ellis said the cold nights have hampered the drying process.

“We need temperatures in the high 30s at night for drying. But it has been around freezing,” said Ellis.

“It has always been a challenge. But we do a lot of drainage work every year to speed up the process,” said Ellis.

Hidden Meadows Golf Course in Old Town is expected to open next week according to course employee Brad Wilkins.

 

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