Golf: Anderson breeding new life into The Meadows

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Randall Anderson, owner of the golf course, The Meadows, in Litchfield, plays with his dog, Doolin, whose name graces the new updated year round pub at the club. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

LITCHFIELD — New owner Randall Anderson wants you to have a “fling” the next time you play the Meadows.

He’s not going to play matchmaker in your love life, but rather offer you a different take on the 444-year-old game by giving you a “flingstick.”

A flingstick is a pole with a cradle that holds the ball attached to the end of it. You throw the golf ball like you would with a lacrosse stick. There are grooves on the side of the cradle for putting when you reach the green.

The only other difference between fling golf and regular golf is if a ball finds the bunker, it’s an one-stroke penalty. Most players use the forward tees when using a flingstick because the ball doesn’t travel as far.

“We just bought the course officially in December, but over the winter we were getting ready to relaunch,” Anderson said. “I was at a golf show … in Texas, a golf owners show, and a guy was walking around with one of these (flingsticks) and I go, ‘What is that?’ He was the CEO and founder, and he’s from Massachusetts. He’s a former lacrosse (player), and he had some young people or spouses who didn’t like golf, but still wanted to get out.”

The Meadows doesn’t charge a rental fee to use its flingsticks, which have been fairly popular this summer.

“We have probably have a dozen or more people who play it regularly,” Anderson said. “On occasion, some of our tournaments … either have people who don’t golf and want to be a part of the company outing or the fundraiser, and they will just play fling alongside the golfer. Or they use it as a shot, like they have to use the (flingstick) on one of the holes to kind of make it an interesting round.”

Fling golf is just one of things Anderson has implemented since taking ownership of the Meadows at the end of 2017. He didn’t hesitate when he found out Ron and Richard Foster were putting the Litchfield course up for sale.

“I live a mile-and-a-half away, and I have played here for 15 years, so I know the course really well,” Anderson said. “A group of my friends and I who bought the course together — they don’t live here they are from away — we all have played this course quite a few times. We always knew it was a great course. When I saw all of a sudden it was for sale I said, ‘Whoa, our local course is for sale.’ Well, we thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be funny if we bought the local golf course?'”

He asked his friends if they were willing to chip in and “never get a return (on investment) in your life.”

Anderson is originally from Wyoming but moved to Maine for work. Taking over the day-to-day operations of the course has been a lifestyle change for him because he had to drop his career of running call centers in Latin America for the past decade.

“I used to travel quite a bit, over 100,000 flight miles a year, and on the road a fair amount, which was great,” Andersen said. “I had a phenomenal company that I worked for, but I was ready for a change. This just presented itself, and I like golf and it sounded like a good time.”

After he took ownership of the Meadows, Anderson, a self-described businessman, knew he had to get the word out about his course. He used social media, posting video updates during the winter, and went to events to promote the Meadows.

“I am comfortable in groups of one or a thousand, I don’t care” Anderson said. “My partners and I who bought the place, we don’t know anything about running a golf course, we never owned or ran a golf course. We don’t know anything about running a pub that has been really successful here inside the (club house), but we know how to run a business and we know how to be marketers.”

This year was the first time the Meadows had a presence at the Portland Golf Expo, which is held annually in the spring. Anderson said it was a great place to promote the course, as he handed out 2,000 free rounds of golf.

“We have had a lot of great folks come out and try us for the first time, who even are in Lewiston-Auburn who haven’t heard of us and we are 25 minutes away. Getting the word out, whether it’s social media or expos or advertising, with anybody is really important.”

Anderson has also received some help from the New England Golf Owners Association on how to run a golf course. Thanks to the association’s partnership with Yamaha, the Meadows now has brand-new 2018 golf carts.

Anderson uses social media to tell the history of the course, which was built on farmland that the Fosters’ grandparents bought in 1924. He also used social media to ask for input on the name of the pub, which has three chefs on staff, that he and his partners expanded and refurbished inside clubhouse. The overwhelming response was to name it after Anderson’s dog, Doolin.

Another reason why Anderson went with that name is that he wants the Meadows to be more just than a golf course.

“We are putting in a new practice range, we will be open in the winter all year round for snowshoeing and cross country skiing,” Anderson said. “We will be doing some winter tournaments and we will be doing trivia nights. We want this to be a hub of entertainment and fun — it just happens to be a golf course.”

Anderson hopes by the end of the year to put two simulators in place that will not only be used as golf simulators but that other sports can be played on, as well.

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Randall Anderson, owner of the golf course, The Meadows, in Litchfield, plays with his dog, Doolin, whose name graces the new updated year round pub at the club. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

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