Neil Douglas, left, of Auburn and Eric Roy of Lewiston bump elbows after playing nine holes at Apple Valley Golf Course in Lewiston on Friday. When courses closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Roy put in a vacation day for May 1 so he could play on the hoped-for reopening day. “I played 72 holes of golf in March before the shutdown,” he said. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

When golf courses opened Friday for the first time over in a month, the rain was started falling.

“As soon as that press conference was done (on Tuesday by Gov. Janet Mills) we started to take (Friday) tee times then,” Chad Hopkins, owner of Apple Valley Golf Course in Lewiston, said. “Actually, we took some of these tee times even before then with anticipation that we may be opening on May 1.”

Hopkins said he had 10 tee times booked for Friday.

Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn had tee times scattered throughout the day. The first player Friday decided to call it a day after finishing the par 3 fifth hole.

Martindale in Auburn and The Meadows in Litchfield each had a tee time booked in the morning. Poland Spring and Turner Highlands did not have a tee time booked as of Friday morning.

“With the weather, we were expecting a slow day today,” Nick Glicos, Martindale co-owner and director of golf, said. “We are easing into our opening day, but we have a nice weekend coming up and I think a lot of people are excited to play finally.”

Golf courses across Maine opened Friday with restrictions. Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn was one. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The heavy rain likely kept some away.

“I think if it was a drizzle or a light rain, but it’s been literally pouring,” Meadows owner Randall Anderson said. “I think if it was a drizzle, we would have a lot of folks.”

Mother Nature spoiling “opening day” gave staff one more day to get their courses ready for the rules and regulations mandated in Gov. Janet Mills’ order this week.

“She could have announced it last week,” Fox Ridge head pro Jerry Diphilippo said. “It would have been a lot better, it would have given us a few days to figure it out.

“We are grinding through it, getting set up, putting our signs out where we have to,” he said. (Rain) definitely helped today. I mean you would like to see the business even though we are just walking the course.”

For Hopkins, putting everything in place has been a “worthwhile, exciting but yet stressful situation.”

“You are right that rain keeps golfers away, but no way shape or form do I ever like it when it rains during the day,” he said. “I wish Mother Nature would be like on the 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. time frame.

“No, I did most of my work every day that it wasn’t raining and some days when it was raining, all day yesterday from sun up to sun down,” he said. “Today with the rain, there’s not a lot I can do out there. I am just manning the (pro) shop, I am at the check-in window and taking a phone call every minute and a half to two minutes.”

While Friday was mostly a washout, this weekend courses are expected to be busy from open to close.

At The Meadows, Saturday is close to being sold out and Sunday is sold out of tee times.

“The only time I am this busy is on Father’s Day weekend,” Anderson said. “For me this is busier than normal … just because there’s so much pent up demand.”

To halt the potential spread of the coronavirus, the state is mandating 12-minute intervals between tee times, two minutes longer than the industry standard.

Eric Roy of Lewiston putts toward a raised cup at Apple Valley Golf Course in Lewiston on Friday. To follow Maine guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, course owner Chad Hopkins raised the cup on each hole to prevent the ball from going in. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Poland Spring in Poland has gone with a 16-minute interval.

“It gives a little bit of a cushion, but the reason why is because my tee sheet was built last year,” PGA professional John King said. “We take tee times a year in advance, so I had to have a tee sheet available last year to book tee times for this year.’

A WRINKLE IN THE RULES

A state rule that felt like a wayward tee shot requires golfers to only play in the county where they live unless they are members elsewhere.

Are they going to make us start to card people?” Diphilippo asked. “Maybe it will come to that maybe, if that’s a mandate. That’s not happening now. If (people) call and say: Hey, look we are out of the county.’ I obviously say you can’t unless you are a member.”

For courses near or on county lines, it’s a little frustrating.

The Meadows is in Kennebce County is next to Androscoggin County.

“I think the intent and spirit of it makes sense,” Anderson, of The Meadows, said. “Somebody did not think about the execution and the reality of it. We were not advised and given any opportunity to affect that (rule).

“We will live by the rules of members and people in the county, but it’s also unenforceable if you think about it,” he said. “If people are supposed to pay online and they do. They show up five minutes before to say: Hey, it’s John Doe,’ and we wave them to the first tee box. I am not going to touch their ID or I am not going to ask for ID to see what town they actually live in and look at a map to see if it’s in my county or not.”

The rule isn’t going to be too much of an issue for Martindale, Glicos said.

“For us, we are a little bit unique because we have close to 400 members and about 80 percent of our rounds, we do are member rounds,” he said. “The county-to-county restriction hasn’t impacted us. It’s going to be mostly member play this weekend.”

Edward Little High School graduates Aaron Perkins, left, and Nate Farnsworth, center, play the ninth hole of golf with ELHS junior Colin Merritt at Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn on Friday. Farnsworth’s freshman year at Bryant University was cut short this spring by the coronavirus pandemic. He finished his last online class Friday morning before golfing with his friends. Perkins will play golf for Husson University this fall. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Aaron Perkins, left, Nate Farnsworth, center, and Colin Merritt change their soaked socks immediately after playing nine holes of golf at Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn on a rainy Friday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Apple Valley Golf Course owner Chad Hopkins runs the Lewiston business from the pro shop Friday because of COVID-19 precautions. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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