Golf courses in southern Maine are opening like crocuses this time of year, and that spring-time cheer is slowly spreading north. As of midweek, 13 courses were open or about to open, according to the Maine State Golf Association.
Here in central Maine, nine-hole Sheepscot Links in Whitefield opened four holes last weekend and plans to open five more by Saturday. Natanis in Vassalboro also plans to open 9 or 10 of its 36 holes by the weekend.
Relatively mild weather and hours of steady rain helped clear much of the snowpack over the past few days, but some courses have it better than others.
“We’ve got so much frost in the ground, we can’t even go up the cart paths,” Augusta Country Club superintendent Chris Barnicoat said.
Barnicoat said the greens are uncovered but he has yet to roll them because he can’t get through the snow to reach them.
Conditions are better at Sheepscot Links and Natanis. Sheepscot opened four holes last week but poor weather kept all but a few diehards away from the course until Monday.
“We had a good crowd Monday,” owner George Hall said. “I’m hoping to have the rest open for Saturday. You might have to dodge a snowbank here and there.”
Hall hasn’t mowed his greens yet but said they appear in decent shape following a long ice cover this winter.
“They’re a little shaggy,” he said, “but they’re not putting too bad.”
General manager Rob Browne said Natanis has been getting “a ton of calls” wondering when the course will open.
“We might try to get some holes open on the weekend,” he said. “We’ll know for sure (today).”
Browne expects the front nine of the Arrowhead course will open first, with the exception of the sixth and seventh holes, along with 11, 12 and 18 on the back.
The greens have been rolled, but Browne said it will take two or three mowings before any damage can be fully assessed.