Randy Bernard has been a member at the nine-hole Hidden Meadows Golf Course in Old Town since it opened nearly 20 years ago.
As the course prepares for its 20th-anniversary celebration on Aug. 15, Bernard reflected on the course’s transformation.
“It has gone from being a hay field to a real nice golf course now,” he said. “I appreciate Peter Dufour for starting the course. He owned the land and built it. [Next owner] Willy Lucas made some improvements. He built the clubhouse. And [current owners] Joe [Perdue] and Rob [Olsen] have done an incredible job.
“They really have spent the money needed to do the upkeep and they are constantly doing upgrades. The greens are as good as anybody’s around.
“One of the things I love is people have come from all over to play here and they say everybody is friendly here. I like hearing that,” added Bernard.
Chad Armell was the superintendent in charge of taking care of the golf course for three years with Lucas and has stayed on in that capacity under Perdue and Olsen.
He said the improvements over the years have been eye-opening.
“It’s hard to believe it’s the same course,” said Armell. “Joe and Rob really care about it. Their number one goal is to get the course the best it can be.”
Perdue and Olsen bought the course from Lucas for $567,000 in 2010 after bad weather plagued it the previous season.
Perdue said Lucas made several improvements including the clubhouse, adding drainage culverts, upgrading the tee areas and building a covered bridge.
Perdue, a Bremerton, Washington, native who got started in the golf business in 1982 at age 22, was working at a course in Washington in 2009 and felt it was being mismanaged, so he decided to buy a course and eventually found Hidden Meadows.
“The first thing we decided to do was put all of our resources into making the greens better,” said Perdue. “There was more clover and weeds than grass.”
Perdue and Olsen spent more than $200,000 on improvements, including the purchase of an additional 37 acres to build a driving range. There were 14 golf carts, several on their last legs, but now there are 100 and some are rented out to other courses.
Mowers for the greens, rough and fairways were purchased for $37,000, $30,000 and $25,000, respectively.
Armell said the old equipment and carts had him “walking around with jumper cables.”
“But now we have very good equipment so we’re able to do the job properly,” he said.
The owners have added 13 new tees and will continue to add more, enabling golfers to have a different challenge the second time around the course. It emulates playing an 18-hole course.
Three fairway bunkers were to the second hole; the new tee on the third hole has added 60 yards and a dogleg to the short par 4, and the size of the green also was doubled. Several other bunkers have been added around the course, while the size of the practice green has been doubled, a practice bunker added and a cover has been placed over the picnic area next to the clubhouse.
Course membership has increased from 43 in 2010 to 168 last year.
Perdue said the key to running a successful nine-hole course is being fully committed to the effort.
“You have to have a plan for what you want the course to be. You have to be patient and you have to be passionate,” he said. “You need to show people that you care. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to make it be successful.”
The cost to play is $15 for nine holes, $21 for 18 holes and $30 for all day. Memberships range from $225 for students to $475 for adults. It is $375 for seniors 62 or older.
“We aren’t trying to be the cheapest or the most expensive,” said Perdue. “We want people to enjoy the course and feel like they got their money’s worth.”
The Aug. 15 anniversary celebration will include prizes, a barbecue and special nine- and 18-hole events.