Last week, Natanis Golf Course superintendent Allen Browne opened the course’s putting green. That small gesture made it apparent that after a long, cold winter, plenty of people are ready to play some golf.

“There were 15, 20 cars of people using the putting green,” Browne said. “So I figured I had to get open to give them something to do.”

On Thursday, Natanis opened for the season, with 21 of the course’s 36 holes playable. Other golf courses around central Maine hope to be open by next weekend.

The Augusta Country Club in Manchester is “still a good week away” from opening, manager Jason Hurd said.

Waterville Country Club manager Danny Proulx said he hopes to have nine holes open at the Oakland course next week.

“It might be Wednesday, but no later than Friday,” Proulx said. “We came through the winter very, very well.”

Added Hurd: “The last couple days with wind and sun were great. We need to wait for the ground to thaw out.”

When the snow melts, golf courses still need a lot of work before they’re playable. Greens covered up all winter need to be uncovered and allowed to ventilate. Protection covering the irrigation system needs to be removed. Debris needs to be removed, and bunkers need to be prepped. As courses continue to dry, equipment such as benches and tee markers will be placed.

Over the last month, crews at Natanis used snowblowers to clean off the greens and some of the golf cart paths. Golfers are able to use carts on 12 of the 21 open holes at Natanis, Browne said.

“We came through (the winter) as well as I’ve ever seen,” Browne said. “Which is great, considering last winter was the worst I’ve ever seen.”

The winter of 2013-14 was brutal on central Maine golf courses. Seventeen of the 18 holes at Augusta Country Club sustained damage. This year, only hole No. 7 needs significant work, Hurd said.

“After 17 last year, we’ll take it,” Hurd said.

Last year, Waterville Country Club didn’t open until April 30. Mid to late April is the average opening time, Proulx said.

“The prep work in the fall really paid dividends. Everything looks great. It’s just wet,” Proulx said.

On Friday afternoon, Mike Trevino, the manager of Western View Golf Club in Augusta, said the course should be open in approximately 10 days.

“It all depends on the weather,” Trevino said. “Rain isn’t a problem as much as getting the frost out of the ground.”

Pine Ridge, Waterville’s nine hole, par-3 course, plans an April 23 opening.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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