Although several golf courses in eastern and northern Maine still have snow on them, particularly in Aroostook County, golf pros in the region said the fact there wasn’t much ice buildup this winter was beneficial and has shortened the time it has taken them to get their courses ready for the season.
Several courses are already open and others are close to opening.
“It was a very encouraging winter. There wasn’t much ice. The course handled it very well,” said Rob Jarvis, the golf pro at the 27-hole Bangor Municipal Golf Course. “The only issue anyone would have is that the snow was on the courses for a long time. We’re starting out on the right foot.”
Jarvis said he is hoping to open the 18-hole course later this coming week but there is still work to be done on the Kelly Nine although it shouldn’t be too long before that follows.
Lenny Espling, the owner and manager of the Barren View Golf Course in Jonesboro, said his nine-hole course opened on Monday.
The nine-hole Bucksport Golf Club and nine of the 18 holes at Hermon Meadows Golf Club are in play and more holes are being added at Hermon when they become playable.
The courses in Bucksport and Hermon opened this past week.
Rob Olsen, the co-owner of the Hidden Meadows Golf Course in Old Town, said he is hoping the golfers can tee it up next Friday.
“There was no winter kill,” said PVCC pro Mark Hall who has already rolled and mowed the greens on the front nine. “The greens are really rolling nice. We still have some snow on the back nine but we just need a day or two of good drying weather. The course drains really well. It’s amazing. We’ve had a very busy [Friday].”
Barren View’s Espling said his course was also inundated with golfers on Friday.
“We didn’t get much snow this winter. The rain washed out the cart paths but they’re all fixed and the course is bone dry,” he said.
Whitney Hand, who runs the Bucksport Golf Club with her dad and course owner Wayne Hand, said the snow cover insulated the course to prevent ice build-up and subsequent damage.
“Everything is really good right now. We had [snow cover] when we needed it,” said Whitney Hand.
She said because the temperatures have remained at or below freezing at night, there are still some frozen spots on the course at certain times of the day.
“The course will get a little wetter when it warms up but it’s still going to be in pretty good shape,” she said.
Olsen said the driving range at Hidden Meadows is open and as long as they don’t get too much snow or rain over the next four to five days, they will open next Friday.
“We don’t want to put people on the golf course too soon and damage the course. We had snow on the greens this winter but we didn’t have ice so the course held up pretty well,” he said.
Jarvis also said he doesn’t want to open too soon to avoid damaging the course “and to make sure people can go out on the course and enjoy themselves. We aren’t going to open the course until we have a [good] product.”
Jarvis said they had to remove some trees and limbs from the course as a result of the October windstorm and some of their own pre-planned cleanup.
“We cleared some trees from around the greens on the fifth and sixth holes on the Kelly Nine because they were preventing the greens from getting any winter sun,” explained Jarvis. “That has already paid dividends. Normally, there would still be snow on those greens.”
He added that there is still some cleanup remaining.
Hermon Meadows owner John Snyer said his course is in “pretty nice shape because there hasn’t been any frost in the ground.
“Two to three weeks ago, we had three and half feet of snow on the 13th green,” he said.
He added that more holes should open quickly as the drying continues.
The golf pros added that the re-emergence of Tiger Woods and last weekend’s Masters Tournament have created some extra enthusiasm for golf.
Espling said he isn’t a Tiger Woods fan “but he’s good for the golf business,”
“People are really excited Tiger’s back playing the game,” said Jarvis. “It’s going to be a good summer for golf.”
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