Historically, there is no golf venue in Maine like the Links at Poland Spring, which is why the annual Fenn-Ross Maine Heritage Scramble June 6 is such a special event.

In 2016, for the first time, vintage historical photographs were placed on nine Poland Spring holes, which went over so well that it is being done this year on all 18 holes. The historical theme of the tournament also is highlighted by a yesteryear apparel contest, which features about half of the golfers in the 32-team field dressing in “period outfits” like it is the turn of the 20th century.

Going back to 1794, there was a building called the Wentworth Ricker Inn, which was the forerunner of the Poland Spring Inn. In 1896, a nine-hole golf course was opened, making Poland Spring the oldest resort course in the United States.

Over the years, people like President Warren Harding and legendary baseball player Babe Ruth were frequently seen on the Poland Spring course, which became 18 holes in 1915, as golf course icon Donald Ross redesigned the front nine and drew up a new back nine. Over the years, the list of rich and famous people who were at the inn and on the course is long enough to fill a small telephone directory.

The purpose of the golf tournament is to raise funds for the Poland Spring Historical Preservation Society, which supports the Maine State Building and All Souls Chapel, two of the most striking buildings on the resort’s beautiful grounds. The society’s mission is to preserve Maine’s proud history and traditions.

It takes people to make this happen. Two are at the forefront of this event. Poland Spring Resort owner Cyndi Robbins understands what the resort means to the area and the state. She donates the course, the inn and outstanding food to the tournament.

Then there is Oxford resident Jim Delamater, who is in his second year as chairman of the tournament.

Delamater literally grew up on the course, where he learned about golf as a boy.

“I remember a PGA event being played there, but I don’t know who was in it,” he said, reflecting on days of yore.

Research shows that tournament to have been the Vacationland Open, won by Burt Yancey of Mami, Florida, who took home $3,500 which was a sizable prize in 1965. The overall purse was $15,000.

The society’s new executive director, Kerry Rasor, pointed out that one of the tournament’s golfing highlights will be the continuation of use of hickory shaft clubs and hitting tee shots with them off tees made from piles of sand. It does not get anymore throwback than that.

Information on the tournament is available by telephoning the society at 998-4142, or online at [email protected] There also is a silent auction of some valuable items. To attend that auction and the reception there is a modest fee.

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There is what many golfers will say is bad news from the U.S. Golf Association: It is discontinuing the State Team Championship, which was a separate event for men and women. The final men’s competition was held last fall in Alabama. The final women’s event will be Sept. 26-28 at the Club at Las Campana in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The men’s tournament was held during even-numbered years, and the women’s competition during odd-numbered years.

A source close to the USGA has indicated that the cost to some state associations competing in this event had become prohibitive. To some individuals, it was such an enjoyable event that they were willing to pay their own way.

Another reason is that eligibility criteria has varied from state to state.

In general, the participants in this competition came away thinking that it was a great place for golf camaraderie in a relaxed atmosphere. That is what will be missed the most by this decision.

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The Maine State Golf Association, which runs more events during a short season that any association in the nation, will have its weekly tournament June 2-3 at Webhannet, and it will begin its 2017 Senior Tour June 1 at Brunswick.

Bill Kennedy


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