NORTH ANSON — A new golf course that represents an investment of more than $1 million is now open to the public following a harsh winter that delayed the opening of several golf courses in the state.

Diadema Golf Club, a nine-hole course at 419 New Portland Road, opened last week.

“We tried to make every hole unique and different. We wanted nothing mundane — it’s what we set up to do, to get the golfer to think about where the ball needs to be for the next shot,” said owner Phil Mattingly on a recent afternoon at the new clubhouse. Despite a light rain falling outside, Mattingly, 50, said he is excited about the course and optimistic that it will prove a challenge to players.

In addition to the course, which offers an alternative green at the 8th hole for an 18-hole game, the club offers lunch and a banquet facility and will potentially be open for cross-country skiers in the winter.

It’s been in the making since Mattingly, also the owner of Mattingly Products, a concrete and construction company, bought the roughly 85 acres of abandoned farmland and woods 12 years ago.

“I blame my wife. I didn’t even play golf until she bought me a set of clubs about 15 years ago,” he said. “I started playing in my backyard and it just sort of grew.”

After searching through property records for inspiration in naming the club, Mattingly and his wife, Bonnie, who will oversee much of the day-to-day operations, were inspired on a walk they took that led them past a cemetery.

The word “diadem” is a type of crown worn by Eastern monarchs that comes from a Greek word meaning “band” or “fillet.” The name for the course comes from the gravestone of a 14-year-old girl whose name was Diadema.

“It clicked because people who we allowed to play the course before it opened would say, ‘This is a hidden gem,'” said Mattingly. “Diadem, meaning crown, just fit.”

Located about two miles from U.S. Route 201A in a town of about 2,500 people, Mattingly said the location may be a surprise for some people, but he is hoping to draw on the area’s tourism industry as well as appeal to local people.

Sugarloaf Mountain, which is visible from the course when the leaves are off the trees, offers an 18-hole course that has been ranked the top course in Maine by Golf Digest for the last three years. Lakewood Golf Course, about 15 miles away in Madison, has been a fixture in the area since it opened in the 1920s.

“Everyone says ‘What? There’s a golf course in Anson?'” said Mattingly. “There’s definitely some risk in it but I hope there will also be a reward.”

A stream meanders through the course, which is defined by its red pine woods and stonework by local architect Michael Zikorus.

Mattingly said he has no further plans for development around the course in the immediate future. Like many courses around the state, he is still recovering from a harsh winter that resulted in a lot of grass damage and had to push back the opening date originally planned for mid-May.

“We want to refine this even further than it is and really polish up the landscape,” he said. “There’s an area for weddings and we’d like to add more stonework, plantings and maybe even a waterfall.”

Par for the nine-hole course is 36. It is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. although hours may be adjusted depending on available daylight. Membership is free for service members who are registered with the Wounded Warrior Project.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

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