There are some wet spots across both the Arrowhead and Tomahawk courses at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro. But 27 of the course’s 36 holes are open, so area golfers have been willing to look past the wet.

“They’re happy to be out playing golf,” Dickie Brown, Natanis’ pro, said.

Unlike many central Maine courses, Natanis has been open a month. Some, like Waterville Country Club, have been open a few days. Others, like Augusta Country Club and Belgrade Lakes, plan to open soon. Augusta hopes to open Friday, the latest opening in years, according to club pro and manager Jason Hurd. Belgrade Lakes manager Kyle Evans said he hopes the course will open Saturday.

Sugarloaf Golf Course in Carrabassett Valley is still almost a month from opening, club pro Zach Zondlo said. The goal is to be open by May 24, Zondlo said.

“Whether it is soft open for the members or full open is still open in the air,” Zondlo said.

The fall of 2018 was very wet, Hurd said, and while early snow coverage provided some insulation for the course, warmer temps in December led to rain, which allowed ice to settle on the turf.

“We had about three greens with ice on them at that time.  We worked hard to remove the ice with our aeration machine but the thickness and cold temps did not allow us to break up the ice,” Hurd said.

Waterville Country Club opened all 18 holes Thursday, with no carts allowed, manager Nick Pelotte said. Like at Augusta Country Club, a rainier winter than usual led to ice buildup on the course.

“Three different times (this winter) we had over an inch of rain and temps in the 40s and 50s. When that happens and there’s not enough snow cover, all that moisture is now turning to ice and that ice is having direct contact with the turf. And that’s not good,” Pelotte said.

Waterville used snow blowers on some greens over the winter to try to keep them clear of moisture, Pelotte said.

“We think a lot of the work our grounds crew did put us in a better situation than we could have seen,” Pelotte said.

When snow fell on top of the ice in January, Hurd knew Augusta had to think of ice damage and winter kill.

“The type of grasses we have give us a 60-90 day window of ice coverage before winter kill sets in.  In late March we removed the snow near the end of our 90 day window and the ice then melted slowly with only some mild temps,” Hurd said. “The course has suffered some winter kill as the ice basically suffocates the grass and eventually kills the turf.  We do not have as much damage as three years ago but we will have some temporary greens as we open for the season.  We will re-seed the bad areas and cover the greens at night to help keep the turf warmer as night time temperatures set in.  This is certainly a process that no golf course wants to go through as it takes time and money to get the greens back.”

Evans said the recent run of rain has made it difficult to assess winter damage at Belgrade Lakes.

“We’ll know more when the sun comes out,” Evans said.

At Natanis, all 18 holes on the Arrowhead course and nine on Tomahawk are open. Course superintendent Allen Browne said he hopes to have the remaining nine holes open in the next week or two.

“It all depends on the weather,” he said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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