Part II: The back 9
(Note: This is the second in a two-part list. For Part 1, click here.)
Spring Meadows Golf Course in Gray is a fairly wide-open layout that is situated in some wetlands. It’s also home to one of the state’s 18 toughest golf holes that golfers identified for the BDN.
All distances cited are from the white tees, unless otherwise noted.
The par 5 third at Spring Meadows plays 500 yards and forces players to use some discretion off the tee.
“I hate that hole,” offered Jay Lacroix of West Warwick, Rhode Island, who played 36 holes at Spring Meadows recently as part of an annual, three-course trip to southern Maine.
“The first shot you can only hit it at best 200 yards or you lose the ball into the hazard,” added Lacroix, who plays from the blue tees (555 yards). “From there you’ve got another 200 and you’re 150 out. Even on your third shot you’re hitting into a pretty small green and you’re hitting over all hazard.”
Aroostook Valley Country Club in Fort Fairfield includes the 383-yard 16th hole, a par 4 that is the highest point on the course, which usually brings the wind into play.
“If the wind blows in your face on that hole, you’re hitting back into the pin with a wood,” said longtime AVCC member Ralph Michaud, who plays from the blue tees (402 yards). “The undulating green goes from the back to the front. If you go long, it’s a really quick putt.”
Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro consists of two 18-hole courses. The ninth hole on the Tomahawk Course, a par 4, checks in at 359 yards.
“There is a tall tree in the middle of the fairway, which doglegs slightly to the left,” former longtime BDN golf writer Dave Barber said. “(Your) approach shot has to carry the green, because there is a wetland area in front of the green, and trees right of the green hamper approaches from that side.”
Golfers who have tackled Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono, which was designed by legendary golf course architect Donald Ross,often come away grumbling about the ninth hole — a 384-yard par 4.
“If you happen to get somewhere near the 150 mark, it plays two clubs longer,” said Basil Closson, a PVCC member. “Then you’re hitting uphill and if you’re long, it’s one of those that pitches from back to front.”
At The Woodlands Club in Falmouth, players contend with a 430-yard, par-4 fourth hole that earned a spot among Maine’s testiest.
Off the tee, there is narrow fairway with a pond on the left and trees on the right. Then it’s uphill with sand traps in front known as “the coffins” guarding a shallow, undulating green.
“The approach shot then plays about two clubs uphill with bunkers stacked on top of one another, which can ruin your round if you get in one,” Jackson said.
Belgrade Lakes Golf Course in Belgrade has a handful of toughies, even the seemingly innocuous 343-yard, par-4 fourth hole that played 1.54 over par during 2013 Maine State Golf Association play.
The key to success on the hole is staying to the right off the tee.
“There’s a trio of nasty bunkers on the left side a couple hundred yards off the tee which come into play,” said Belgrade Lakes managing partner Kyle Evans.
Players can roll their approach onto the spacious green, but golfers must be in the right position if the pin is situated on the left-hand side.
“You’ve got to be on the right side of the fairway to get a look at some of the pins depending on where some of the pin placements are,” Evans said.
The 12th hole at Toddy Brook Golf Course in North Yarmouth, a 369-yard par 4, will test a player’s accuracy and finesse. It’s a tight drive through the trees to hit the fairway on the dogleg left.
Those on the short grass then get a look at “a two-tiered green up on top of the hill protected by a bunker right in front,” said assistant pro Bradley Youngs.
“You have a very narrow area to land to a blind green,” which slopes significantly from right to left with a bunker guarding the front side, he added.
“There’s no room for error on the approach,” Youngs said. “If the pin’s on the bottom and you’re on the top, you’re almost guaranteeing a three-putt.”
Golfers have also been challenged by the 10th hole at Prospect Hill Golf Course in Auburn. The par 4, 419-yard layout is fairly straight, but narrow, off the tee.
“The second shot you’re actually shooting to an elevated green. That’s what makes it difficult,” said Ray Hanson of Auburn, a senior player at the course.
And because of a small ditch in front, the shot in to the green requires the ball to be hit in the air.
“The green is probably like 3-4 feet higher than that flat spot,” where the fairway ends, Hanson added. “It’s very hard to hit the green. It’s small and it slopes toward the tee.”
Val Halla Golf Course and Recreation Center in Cumberland caps off our list with No. 9, a 400-yard par 4. The dogleg right tempts long hitters to cut the corner, but thick trees there are a deterrent.
“With a mishit driver off the tee, “they’re going to be dead into the woods,” said course employee Edith Aromando, who usually plays from the whites.
“If you pull out an iron and lay up short, it’s a tough shot to get over the stream,” she said of a conservative tee shot.
The approach is then all carry because of the water in front of the green. The putting surface is guarded on the left by traps, front and back.