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Fairways and bunkers and greens... Oh my!

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Maine has plenty to offer golfers of all abilities

One of the greatest things about the game of golf is the fact that it is one of the few sporting endeavors in our society that you don't have to be good at to enjoy. Sure, there is joy to be derived from a great drive or a long putt, but for most of us, the pleasure comes from just being out there on the grass in the sunshine (and complaining about your round; most golfers I know absolutely love to bemoan their bad shots and bad luck on the course). Once the game gets its hooks in you, chances are good that you're in for the duration.

However, you should always remember that no matter what course you are planning to play, be sure to check their policy with regard to tee times in advance. A lot of smaller courses don't require them, but if there's any question, call ahead or check a website. There's nothing worse than getting geared up for a game only to find out that there's no room for you. Also, many courses offer discounted rates for those who play later in the day, usually after 3 p.m. or so; certainly worth investigating if you're a fan of twilight golf.

Overall, it's surprising just how many golf courses there are in Penobscot and Hancock Counties, or all over the state for that matter. Maine has over 120 courses dotting the landscape, providing a wide variety of options for duffers and scratch players alike. Here are a few, but by no means all, of the highlights.

Greater Bangor

There are some wonderful courses right here in the Bangor area. There are 18-hole courses and nine holers. Some reward more highly-skilled players, while others present options for those who play a little less frequently. Some even offer additional entertainment options. Regardless of what you're looking for, the area presents a wide array of options.

Any discussion of golf courses in the Bangor area has to start with Bangor Municipal Golf Course, established in 1964. Bangor Muni consists of 27 holes of high-quality golf; you've got the original 18-hole course as well as a newer nine-hole course. Both courses were designed by acclaimed architect Geoffrey Cornish. These two courses are among the best public courses in the state, playing host to a variety of events and tournaments over their history. This includes the only USGA Major Championship ever played at a Maine facility (Public Links Championship, 1978). With a driving range, two large putting greens, teaching professionals, a pro shop and an in-house eatery, Bangor Muni provides a complete golfing experience from beginning to end.

Another great local 18 can be found just down the road at Hermon Meadow. This course, located on Billings Road, is another gem. It is a challenging course, yet still relatively forgiving of the novice player. There is a nice balance between demanding and "easy" holes (though it's difficult for me to call any golf hole "easy"), as well as some lovely views. Hermon Meadow also has a driving range, a well-stocked pro shop and a teaching pro.

If you're looking for a little something extra to go along with your round, Traditions Golf Course on Route 1 in Holden might be right up your alley. Not only do they have a wonderful nine holes (including the course's namesake, the par-3 7th, which is one of my favorite all-time holes) with the standard amenities, but they also have a fantastic miniature golf course onsite. It is great golf and family fun; a first-rate combination.

There are plenty of other courses in the area as well. Some of the notable courses that you might want to check out: Hampden Country Club is a great course; Orono's Penobscot Valley Country Club offers some serious challenges to players of all skill levels; Pine Hill Golf Club in Orrington, an exciting and enjoyable par-36 that opened in 1962; Kenduskeag Valley Golf Course in Kenduskeag, a personal favorite (it's where I first started playing); and Sawmill Woods Golf Course in Clifton, a par-36 that is one of the toughest plays in the area.

Mount Desert Island

MDI warrants its own category here; the island sports three separate courses. The lush and vibrant environs of the island provide a fantastic backdrop for a round of golf. The courses, located in Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor, each provide their own contingent of long drives and trying putts while also giving the golfer a distinct and individualized experience. In addition to their beautiful settings and unique layouts, they have an assortment of standard golf course offerings as well; teaching pros, dining options, pro shops and the like.

MDI's long history as a summer haven for the rich and powerful has resulted in a trio of first-class golf courses concentrated in a relatively small area. Their proximity to one another presents some intriguing possibilities for a golf getaway. In fact, an ambitious player could conceivably play rounds at all three in the course of a day, though 45 holes in the summer heat would likely tax even the strongest player.

Kebo Valley Golf Club was founded back in 1888, making it one of the 10 oldest courses in the United States. Nestled between Cadillac and Dorr Mountains in Bar Harbor, Kebo provides links-style golf with a wonderful balance of historic aura and modern engineering. These fairways and greens have played host to elite political leaders, wealthy captains of industry and some of the game's best players.

Northeast Harbor Golf Club has been around almost as long as Kebo, having been originally established in 1895. However, the current incarnation of the course dates to 1916. This course, located on Sargent Drive in Northeast Harbor, has a classic feel, with some of the most challenging par-fours to be found anywhere in the area. Two renowned golf architects have played significant roles in the evolution of the course; Donald Ross designed the initial nine holes in 1916, while Herbert Strong designed the second nine in 1925.

The Causeway Club in Southwest Harbor is the youngest of the trio by a few years, reaching completion in 1923; the designer was Alonzo Yates. It is also the only nine-hole course of the three, with multiple tee options allowing you to play a unique 18. Still, the course doesn't lack for aesthetic pleasures and athletic challenges; the mountain scenery is gorgeous, while almost half the holes have water coming into play. Somes Sound is lovely to look at right up until you hit your ball into it.

Destination: Golf

There are a few courses here in Maine that are a bit of a trip for those of us living in this area, but that are well worth the trip for any true golf enthusiast. Here are a couple of popular choices for Maine golfers and for golfers from all over the country.

Carabasset Valley offers the Sugarloaf Golf Course, repeatedly recognized by Golf Digest as the best public course in Maine and one of the best in New England. This is 18 holes of pure beauty set among the mountains; it's also the best course that I have ever had the pleasure of playing. With golf and stay packages and a variety of special offerings, Sugarloaf is a prime destination for any traveling golfer.

Another renowned Maine course can be found at the Samoset Resort in Camden. The Samoset Resort Golf Club has been in operation for over 100 years, having celebrated that centennial in 2002. The course has breathtaking views of Penobscot Bay, with seven oceanside holes and 14 ocean vistas contributing to the overall course aesthetic. The course has played host to some elite competitions in recent years; however, there is plenty to delight casual players along with those who are more serious. Samoset carries a well-deserved reputation as a championship-level course.

There are far more courses in Maine than I could possibly list here. If you're looking for other options, or to find out more about the ones I've provided, then a good place to start is; this site has a lengthy list of Maine courses, along with other helpful information.

Mark Twain called golf "a good walk spoiled;" anyone who has played the game has been able to relate to that statement more than once. However, all it takes is one good shot and you're back in love with the game again. We have plenty of options and opportunities to enjoy this wonderful game this summer. No matter how you can play or what you can pay, there is a course in the area for you. Get out there and take advantage.

Did I leave out your favorite course? Did a hidden gem escape my notice? If so, feel free to write me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and tell me so.

Last modified on Thursday, 08 December 2011 12:27


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