Some area golf courses have seen less than a half a foot of snow in nearly two months, and, buoyed by a forecast for more of the same, along with some frost-busting rain and warmer temperatures on tap for this weekend, golfers with an itch to pick up the sticks and play a round will have that chance as early as Thursday.
“We’re ready to go, we’ll be open, with carts on cart paths only (Thursday),” said Ron Bernard, owner of The Meadows Golf Club in Litchfield.
Bernard said this opening is two weeks or more earlier than he can ever remember being open.
“We had it open the last week a March a few years ago, when we had temperatures in the 60s for a week,” he said, “but this is far earlier.”
There might still be a little bit of frost in the ground in places at The Meadows, but nothing to deter golfers from playing.
“The course is in pretty good shape,” Bernard said. “We’re even at the point where a little bit of moisture would be welcomed at this point. The grass is still dormant, obviously, but the greens are rolling fast. We had a few members out here earlier this week and they told me they’re already looking as good as they ever have coming out of the winter.”
The Meadows will most certainly be one of the first courses in the region, and, likely, in all of Maine, to open.
Other courses in the area aren’t far behind.
“We will certainly be opening earlier than we ever do, assuming we don’t get any more weather that would prevent that,” Apple Valley of Lewiston owner Gard Craw said. “Our biggest concern now is the layer of frost we still have. It’s too dangerous to open up with frost still out there, both for the course and for the golfers.”
Craw is hopeful that this weekend’s forecasted storm will help in that regard.
“With the rain we’re seeing in the forecast and the warm temperatures, we’re hoping that brings the frost right out.”
Bigger clubs, such as Martindale Country Club of Auburn, are sticking more closely to their original timeline. But they also know the itch to play is starting to take over many of their regular players. Mike Williams, an administrator at Martindale, didn’t want to speculate on an exact opening date Wednesday, but did say things are looking “very, very good” both on the course and around the clubhouse, which is undergoing some interior renovations.
In a letter to the club’s members, new course superintendent Scott Cybulski outlined a few improvements he and his staff have already had a chance to make given the lack of snow, including some tree pruning along the 12th fairway. In the letter, he also said that the greens and fairways appear to have weathered the winter well.
No one was available for comment at Prospect Hill or at Fox Ridge, both in Auburn.