With American-Canadian borders still closed due the COVID-19 pandemic, the Aroostook Valley Country Club, which is located partly in Maine but mostly in New Brunswick, remains off-limits to American golfers.
Last July, Canadian government and police officials told AVCC golf pro and manager Steve Leitch Americans were not allowed to play on the course because of the pandemic.
The main entrance, parking lot and pro shop at Aroostook Valley are located in Fort Fairfield and the course and clubhouse are in Four Falls, New Brunswick.
“Nothing has changed,” Leitch said Monday. “It is up to the federal governments of Canada and the United States. It’s completely out of our hands.”
The membership is usually somewhat balanced between Americans and Canadians.
Leitch said the course has 90 Canadian members who will be relied upon to keep the golf course afloat along. The country club also receives subsidies from the Canadian government since it is a Canadian entity.
“We’ll be able to make it to 2022,” Leitch said.
He sympathizes with his American members and noted that some have continued to pay their dues to support the club, in spite of their inability to play.
“I know a lot of people are disappointed right now. They want to return. Hopefully, we can return to normal soon,” Leitch said.
Not surprisingly, other Aroostook County golf courses have benefitted as some American members from AVCC have joined their clubs.
“Last July, we got quite an influx of their members and they have stayed with us,” said Matt Madore, who has taken over for his father Barry, who retired as golf director at the Presque Isle Country Club.
“Our memberships are up 15-20 percent this year from a normal year,” Madore said.
Jane Umphrey, who manages the pro shop at the Caribou Country Club, said it gained 12 AVCC members last year and all have returned this spring.
Despite benefiting from the situation at AVCC, golf is a close-knit community in The County. Madore and Umphrey said it is a shame what has happened and they hope the American members can return to Aroostook Valley soon.
Their courses have also benefited from an unusually mild winter, saying the courses are in excellent shape for this time of year.
“Our course is in better shape now than it was in July last year,” Madore said. “I’ve been associated with this golf course for over 40 years and the greens have never been in better shape.”
Presque Isle Country Club opened on April 22.
Umphrey said Caribou Country Club opened May 3, two weeks earlier than normal. When there has been good weather, virtually all of its tee times have been filled.
It was a memorable 2021 season in Maine golf circles because it was one sport that was ideal for social distancing. People sought the opportunity to get outside and participate in an activity.
“Golf is the ultimate pandemic sport,” Madore said.
“If there is anything that has benefited from the pandemic it would be golf,” said Umphrey, who noted that a lot of youngsters have taken up the sport.
Caribou Country Club will offer the Youth on Course program being implemented by the Maine State Golf Association.