June 20, 2018
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Weather prolongs players’ ‘cabin fever,’ holds cards in openings of many Maine golf courses

By Dave Barber, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Golf course openings are a mixed bag with a few limited openings under way while others are waiting out the results of this weekend’s precipitation.

Bangor Municipal Golf Course’s opening has been pushed to next week, according to head pro Brian Enman.

“We are just wet everywhere,” said Enman. “We’re trying to get cleanup done, but there are some areas we can’t even get to.”

Tuesday’s rain plus the forecast for the next few days have forced Enman into a waiting game.

“I’m not going to make a firm decision until I see what we get tomorrow [Friday],” he said.

The projected rain and potentially more on Sunday will determine whether the course opens early next week or later.

“If we don’t get a deluge [Friday], we’ll certainly look at it,” said Enman.

Other clubs have set partial openings or plan to open this weekend regardless.

Rocky Knoll Country Club in Orrington opened its back nine Monday to walking.

A message on the phone at Country View Golf Course in Brooks said that course plans to open Saturday.

Hermon Meadow opened first, in mid-March, and Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono opened last week.

Rockland Golf Club opened Wednesday and has 13 holes in play — the front nine plus Nos. 10, 11, 17 and 18.

“Twelve through 16 are really wet, but not that bad compared to past years,” said head pro Keenan Flanagan.

He’s encouraged that he may able to open the other holes on Monday.

“The wind has been really blowing,” he said.

Wind can be as much a factor in drying out a course as sun can, and it has helped to the point where power carts are being allowed as long as the weather allows it.

“They have to stay on the paths or in the rough,” Flanagan said, who feels he has seen a good turnout so far.

“People have got spring fever,” he said. “We had 50 golfers Wednesday, today [Thursday] it’ll probably be 40.”

Most are walking, he added, but a lot of them are playing only nine-hole rounds.

“They’re feeling it [in their muscles],” said Flanagan.

Another promising sign came Thursday at Pine Hill Golf Club in Brewer.

“Gary [McClure, the greenskeeper] actually went out and mowed greens today,” said Jason Brooks. He and girlfriend Katie LaChance are starting their first season leasing the club.

This week’s rain also pushed back their opening, which was going to be Saturday, until maybe the first of next week.

“We were pretty well dried, then we got those couple of days of rain,” said Brooks.

Traditions Golf Club in Holden plans to open for walkers at 9 a.m. Saturday regardless of Friday’s rain total.

“It’s a little bit wet, but we’re ready to go regardless,” said co-owner and club pro Colin Gillies, who has already opened the driving range.

“We lost a few trees [to wind],” Gillies said, “but the greens came through well and the fairways are good. It was a pretty easy winter, actually.”

The biggest factor of winter, for a golf course, is the depth of the frost in the ground, and signs are good on that front.

“The frost is pretty much gone now,” said Brooks.

“The rain is bringing up the rest of the frost,” said Enman.

Flanagan said he uses an old standard regarding frost that he was taught years ago.

“Once you can cut a cup 13 inches deep, you can open,” he said.

That’s deeper than most cups are cut, he noted, but said, “I tend to err on the side of caution.”

He spotted another good sign, too.

“We’re finally starting to see the grass change color,” said Flanagan. “It’s starting to green up.”

While some clubs have opened, historically this is the typical weekend for clubs to open.

“We’ve been spoiled two of the last three years,” said Enman of the mid-March openers.

But Enman is sympathetic, too.

“I understand they have cabin fever,” said Enman. “People want to be out there.”

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