Maine Golf Hall of Fame celebrates its silver anniversary

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Maine Golf Hall of Fame Executive Director Gary Rees stands in the always changing hall of fame room on the second floor of the State of Maine Building on the grounds of Poland Spring Resort recently
Maine Golf Hall of Fame Executive Director Gary Rees stands in the always changing hall of fame room on the second floor of the State of Maine Building on the grounds of Poland Spring Resort recently

POLAND — There are two big anniversaries this year in golf. The first is the Maine State Golf Association is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary as the governing body for the sport in the Pine Tree State. The other is the 25th Anniversary of the Maine Golf Hall of Fame, which is housed on the second floor of the Maine State Building on the property of the Poland Spring Resort.

On Thursday, the Maine Golf Hall of Fame will induct two more to the 124-member class with an induction ceremony for Elizabeth (Liz) Browne Wiltshire and Nancy Storey at the Maine Inn, along with a scramble tournament at Poland Spring in the afternoon.

It was a natural fit for the Hall of Fame to be on Poland Spring property.

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“With Poland Spring and the heritage it has, we wanted to have it all together,” Maine Golf Hall of Fame Executive Director Gary Rees said. “Cindy Robbins, the owner of the resort here, has been great to us. She lets us have the room so we can put the exhibits in there so people can come see it at no charge. It’s nice for us because the hall is non-profit.”

The Hall was started by Vern Putney, Dr. Carmen Pettapiece, Dick Doyle and Joseph Stillman in 1993. The first couple of inductions took place at Sable Oaks before making it’s trek from South Portland to Poland.

Its purpose is to acknowledge and preserve the history of golf in Maine along with promoting the present and future of the sport.

The first class saw 17 people get inducted, including Arthur H. Fenn of Poland Spring. Of the 124 people inducted are locals such as Pennie Page Cummings of Lewiston, Fred Bendtsen of Lewiston, Ralph Noel Jr. of Auburn, and Robert Darling Jr., to name a few.

It also has members from out of state, including Maine’s most famous summer resident President George H.W. Bush, who was inducted in 2009. Peter Kostis, a CBS golf analyst and golf instructor was inducted in 2003. He’s from Sanford. Tiger Woods’ first caddie as a pro, Mike (Fluff) Cowan, who now caddies for Jim Furyk, was a 2005 inductee. He worked at Martindale in 1976 as an assistant pro and grew up in Fairfield.

Along with their accomplishments in the sport, inductees have to be nominated by two individuals, as well as be 35 or older and be born or have lived in Maine for an extended period of time.

What all the inductees have in common, whether they have lived and played just in Maine or have gone on to make an impact on the sport out of state, is they are asked to donate an item or two to the Hall of Fame.

Rees, a 1994 inductee for his 40 years of experience as a golf pro and high school golf coach at Greely, is also a golf collector himself. He has donated some items from his personal collection to the Hall of Fame.

“We asked the inductees to donate some article or some personal (artifact), whether it be a golf club, ball, bag, certificate or anything like that,” Rees said. “That’s what consists of the Hall, plus we have antique clubs with wood shafts … bunch of golf balls from different eras. Anything that deals with golf, we try to save it.”

One of the most famous items in the collection is a putter from Arnold Palmer. It’s no ordinary putter either. It’s a putter he used at Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth, where he played three times on the Senior Tour (now known as the PGA Champions Tour). He won the tournament in 1986. Right now the putter is not on display because it’s getting fitted for a shadow box in which to be displayed. Also in the possession of the Hall of Fame is a bag from former President Bush.

They also have PGA Tour caddie bibs on display from 2011 inductee Andrew Lano II. Lano II is the son of Andrew Lano ,who was a stellar athlete for Portland High School in the ’40s. He also was inducted into the Maine Baseball and Maine Sports halls of fame. Lano II was a caddie for Kenny Perry, a longtime PGA Tour player who now plays on the Champions Tour. Lano II’s bib is from the 2005 Presidents Cup, which was held at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia, when the United States defeated the international team 16.5-15.5 points.

An item from a Maine golfer Jim Veno of Orono, who won the boys’ high school state championship from 1958-62, a Maine Amateur title in 192 and a Maine Open title in 1965 has an interesting story and place in the history of Maine golf.

“We have a pitching wedge from Jimmy Veno, who’s one of the outstanding amateurs in Maine,” Rees said. “He used that wedge to hit a ball out of a plastic cup into a hole for a hole-out at the Maine Amateur Championship. That’s up there (in the Hall of Fame).”

Rees said he changes the Hall of Fame every three or four months by displaying different items at a time.

The Hall of Fame, along with the State of Maine building, is open Mondays from noon to 7 p.m. and Thursday-Saturday 9 a.m-4 p.m. during the summer. During the fall, the hours are Friday-Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from 9-11 a.m. It closes for the season in mid-October.

nfournier@sunjournal.com

Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland include this photographic glass-plate transparency illuminated by window light.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland include this photographic glass-plate transparency illuminated by window light.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland, includes a photo of Babe Ruth when he came to the resort to play golf.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland, includes a photo of Babe Ruth when he came to the resort to play golf.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland.
Some of the items housed in the Maine Golf Hall of Fame on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland.
Maine Golf Hall of Fame Executive Director Gary Rees stands in the always changing hall of fame room on the second floor of the State of Maine Building on the grounds of Poland Spring Resort recently
Maine Golf Hall of Fame Executive Director Gary Rees stands in the always changing hall of fame room on the second floor of the State of Maine Building on the grounds of Poland Spring Resort recently

The Maine Golf Hall of Fame (center) is located on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland.
The Maine Golf Hall of Fame (center) is located on the second floor of the State of Maine Building at Poland Spring Resort in Poland.

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