Hitting the links may be a couple of weeks away in central Maine, but those who want to swing their clubs and hit a few balls can do that at T’s Golf in Manchester today, starting at noon.
“We decided we’re going to open (today),” owner Judy Torrington said. “If we wait for all the snow to melt we may not open until May. People are ready.”
Torrington said the driving range opened on March 15 last year.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen,” she said. “Normally we have a lot more bare places than we have right now.”
The putting green is also open, but the short game area and the mini golf course are not yet ready.
Courses around the state are still digging out from a winter that saw above average snowfall and a couple of significant ice storms.
Crews were out at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro this week, clearing off some of the greens.
“We’ll probably have the front nine on Arrowhead cleared off by the end of the week,” general manager Rob Browne said.
Crews have also cleared some downed trees on the 36-hole course, but Browne added “we’re kind of limited what we can do right now. Some spots are pretty deep.”
Natanis typically opens earlier than any course in central Maine, in part because it has 36 holes. The course is usually open when nine or 12 holes are ready. Last year it opened in late March then closed for a few days after a late snowstorm. Two years ago it opened March 6.
“As a golf nation here in Maine we’ve been spoiled by so many early openings,” said Browne, recalling a mid-April opening a few years ago. “We’ll be open this month. It’s shrinking every day. We’re always surprised by how quickly things turn around.”
One concern for Natanis — as well as for most courses around the state — is the length of ice cover on the greens. An ice storm hit early in the winter and never had a chance to melt.
“I don’t think there’s a little bit of frost,” Browne said. “The problem’s going to be ice. It just came at the wrong time of the season. When ice sits more than 60 days, you start having issues, and it’s been more than 60 days.”
The earliest posted opening on the Maine Golf Association’s website comes from Toddy Brook in North Yarmouth, which plans to open nine holes April 11.
Belgrade Lakes Golf Course typically opens slightly later than most central Maine courses and that will definitely be the case this year.
“We open May 1st every year. That’s our goal,” managing general partner Kyle Evans said. “I’m hoping to do that but I’ve got my doubts. I walked around (Wednesday) and there’s a lot of snow. There’s still four feet in a lot of places.”
Evans said workers have started to remove snow from the greens and had to use a bulldozer on a couple of them. The standing ice, he said, could present problems.
“We’re very concerned,” he said.
Evans spent Thursday on the slopes.
“That’s the only good part of it,” he said of the snowy winter. “We’ve got another month of skiing.”