During the spring of 1963, Frank Bartasuis opened the Fairlawn Golf & Country Club with just nine holes in use.

“Those were some tough years,”  said Bartasuis, whose golf employment dates back to the 1930s when he was a caddy at Martindale and Poland Spring while attending Lewiston High School. “because there was no golf course construction equipment.”

Fairlawn was created with tractors and road scrapers. And it always was two tractors, because one could get stuck in the mud, meaning the second one would have to pull it out.

 
In those days, Bartasuis was on the course at the crack of dawn, and remained there until dusk.  The efforts of he and his men enabled Fairlawn to complete 18 holes by the middle of July of 1963.  That was a significant moment for Bartasuis, who is celebrating the 50-year anniversary of his golf club, and later this year will reach his 95th birthday. That makes him the oldest course-owner and PGA professional in the State of Maine, and puts him among the oldest in the nation.
 
“I’ve been a PGA professional for 55 years,”  Bartasuis said proudly.
 
Bartasuis sought architectural advice, but mostly Fairlawn is his own design. An example is that more than 300 pine trees were planted on Fairlawn fairways in 1963, but they were not even knee-high.  From the second story deck of Fairlawn clubhouse, which was transferred from Summit Springs to the Fairlawn site in two pieces, one could see most of the course. Today, those pines give the appearance of having been there forever.
 
The clubhouse was brought from Summit Springs, where Bartasuis was the manager for more than a decade and owner of two holes on which the clubhouse was built.
 
There is a lot of history attached to the golf course. At one time a railroad bed ran throughout Fairlawn’s 450 acres of property connecting Lewiston to the Poland Spring Hotel. When Bartasuis purchased the property in 1961, he bought two farms — one with no name and the other being “Fairlawn Farm.”  In the clubhouse banquet room hangs a sign which says: “Fairlawn Farm 1878.”  Recently, the town of Poland approved Bartasuis’ plan for the residential development of 80 acres.
 
Also part of Fairlawn lore is the fact that Joe Louis was in Lewiston for the 1963 Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston world heavyweight boxing championship bout, and he played golf at Fairlawn while in Maine. Two Maine State Open (1973, 1977) and two Maine State Amateur (1965, 1975) championships were held at Fairlawn.
 
“We’ve also had some pretty good golfers here,” Bartasuis said, citing his nephew Bruce Samaklis, a 1977 Maine Amateur champion along with a New England junior crown, and his youngest son, Dave, who won the 1972 New England junior championship. “I never won anything. I had no time, working the golf course 12-15 hours a day and raising four children.”
 
Still, the results of his labor is evident in today’s Fairlawn, which probably is in the best condition of its 50-years of existence. That also can be attributed to his golf course staff, which is loaded with people who have been at Fairlawn for many years.  Dave Bartasuis is director of golf operations, a position he has had for 30 years. Jerome Cailler has been food service director since 1972.  The course superintendent, Fred Aberle, started as a high school grass-cutter in 1972.  Another son, Steve Bartasuis, has been on the summer greens crew for years, but since he retired as a teacher three years ago, he has been working all season.
 
Fairlawn, with one of the most economical membership fees in Maine, was and is a family-friendly course. However, it  probably is the look of the 2013 Fairlawn that makes Bartasuis the proudest.
 
“We spent a lot of money on miles of underground drains.” he said. “I always dreamed about the course being this good, but the reality was there was no equipment and little money to make it like this. It’s been a challenging year so far weather-wise, but the course is in great shape.”
 
Bartasuis, inducted into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame in 2010, was asked if he had a “do-over,” would he own and build a golf course?  It was a question which received no verbal response, but his wry smile and a negative headshake indicated that his golf course-building career will conclude as strictly one-and-done.   
 
Noteworthy
 
The Harris Golf Charity Classic with more than 120 LPGA legends participating will be Sept. 14 and 15 at the Falmouth Country Club.
 
This will be the second year the tournament has been held for the LPGA Tour’s past great players. In the field will be 12 golfers who have been elected to the World and LPGA halls of fame. In addition, the field will contain players who have won 70 major and 675 LPGA tournament championships. There will be a $200,000 purse for players who finish in the money.
 
The competition will benefit First Tee of Maine and Camp Susan Curtis.  The purchase of a $20 ticket will include a free round at one of eight Harris semi-private courses  —   Old Marsh, Sunday River, Bath, Penobscot Valley, Highland Green, Mere Creek, Freeport or Wilson Lake. Ticket information is available at 207-442-8725…
 
The Maine State Golf Association will be at Fairlawn Friday and Saturday, running its weekly events as the Davis Richardson Memorial Tournament.  Richardson, a longtime Fairlawn member and New Gloucester resident, was the MSGA’s scorer, handicapper and tournament director 1988-2005.  He passed away in 2010 …  Also this week, the MSGA has senior and junior tournaments Monday at Rockland and Thursday at Lakewood, with a third junior event Wednesday at Natanis Arrowhead. Plus, the New England Amateur will be Tuesday through Thursday at Green Mountain in Vermont.

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