For almost a decade, the golf course industry as a whole has struggled financially. Some courses have gone out of business, while many others have attempted to hang on. It has not been easy, especially in Maine, because of a short season, a small population, and a market that has felt the financial strain of the recession.

Occasionally, from hard times there are some good developments. That is what HF Golf Management of Scarborough is attempting to do at the five courses it manages — Sanford, Dunegrass, Nonesuch River, Bridgton Highlands and Fox Ridge.

Longtime head professional Bob Darling of Fox Ridge decided over the past winter that he no longer wanted the responsibility or the pressure to be the a seven-day-a-week pro at that course, so he welcomed HF Golf, which is run by Dan Hourihan and his son, Jared. The grind of a seven-days a week, dawn-to-dusk job no longer appealed to Darling, now 59.

Enter HF Golf, which hired Portland Country Club assistant pro Jerry DiPhillipo to run Fox Ridge. Darling remains at the club, giving lessons and running the First Tee of Maine program there. It is an amicable arrangement for everyone.

Will it result in economic success? Only time will tell.

“We want to offer pricing that appeals to locals, not just tourists,” Dan Hourihan said.

One of the pricing deals is a discount on weekdays and weekend afternoons for players who bring non-perishable food items for the Good Shepherd Food Bank to the course. Good Shepherd has an office and warehouse facility in Auburn, just a few miles from Fox Ridge.

Another HF Golf discount incentive called the “Maine Golf Pass” involves all five courses. For $169, a player can play each of the group’s courses. Information on that deal is available at MaineGolfPass.com.

Fox Ridge did retain veteran superintendent Ed Michaud, who has the course in excellent condition.

“Ed’s always been a good superintendent who does his job well,” Hourihan said.

Michaud’s reputation in Maine is legendary, and everyone knows you cannot have a quality golf course without a quality superintendent.

The combination of new management with well-known veterans like Darling and Michaud still on board, means that Fox Ridge has a chance to remain the great course it has been since it opened in 2001, while getting even better.

As Darling put it so aptly: “I want more than ever for this place to succeed.”

For the sake of the future of golf in greater Lewiston-Auburn, it would be even better if all area golf courses succeed.

*****

Area pros and their amateur partners cashed in July 11 at the Maine Chapter PGA Pro-Am at Martindale in a two best balls of four tournament.

In gross team, Martindale had a pair of groups tied for second. Kyle Bourassa with Will Kannegieser, Brian Bilodeau and Matt Simard shot 68-67—135 (-7), while Nick Glicos teamed with Andrew Slattery, Jace Pearson and Joe Baker for 66-69–135 (-7).

In individual pro, Bourassa shot 36-37—73 (+2) for third place, and David Bartasius of Fairlawn carded 37-37—74 (+3) for a fourth place tie. In pro-pro blind draw, Curtis Goldsberry of Dunegrass was paired with Bartasius and tied for second (-1).

*****

Nine players from Maine will be in the field of 156 July 19-21 to compete for the New England Amateur championship at the Hartford (Conn.) Golf Club. They are: Andrew Slattery and Will Kannegieser, both of Martindale; Sam Grindle, Island; Jack Wyman, Portland; Matt Hutchins, Woodlands; Dustin Freeman, The Ledges; Mike Caron, Sable Oaks; Reese McFarlane, Purpoodock and John Bauman, Webhannet.

Maine has the fewest players in the tournament. Massachusetts has 55, Connecticut 47, New Hampshire 21, Rhode Island 12 and Vermont 12.

*****

If you are into golf tournament competition, this is your week. In addition to the New England Amateur, in Maine all on July 18, there is a U.S. Amateur Qualifier at The Ledges, a Pro/Junior event at Valhalla as a preliminary to the Maine Junior Amateur, and a Maine State Golf Association Senior Tour event at Point Sebago. That will be followed July 19-20 with the annual Junior Amateur Championship at Valhalla. There is no MSGA weekend tournament scheduled this week.


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