A disc golfer who goes by “Rabbit” takes some practice shots during his first visit back to Dragan Field Disc Golf in Auburn during a driving rain Friday afternoon. He was the person on the course Friday. “I usually play three times a week and since the courses have been closed I just had to come play as soon as it opened back up, even if it is pouring rain,” Rabbit said as he picked up his disc to make a long putt. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Maybe the rainy weather was fitting for the first day that disc golf courses in Maine were allowed to open — or reopen — on Friday, as part of Gov. Janet Mills’ plan to gradually reopen the state’s economy. 

While players can toss their discs at the state’s courses, the experience as a whole won’t be the same for quite some time.

“I guess we should celebrate that we’re allowed to play again,” said Kris Gosselin, who lives in Lisbon and operates Porcupine Ridge Disc Golf Course in Augusta. “It’s a tough one (with all the restrictions now in place). But the community is excited, everybody’s excited to get back out there.” 

Friday was Porcupine Ridge’s opening day, but Gosselin wasn’t expecting many players to show up to his course because of the weather.

Dragan Field Disc Golf in Auburn — which is open year-round, but had to close in late March due to a governor’s order closed non-essential business due to the coronavirus pandemic — opened back up at noon on Friday, but owner Josh Connell said he was “not expecting a lot of business,” save for the few tee times that were booked prior to opening. Connell said turnout improved in the afternoon once the rain let up.

Devil’s Grove Disc Golf in Lewiston had 18 people show up Friday despite the rain, “some in the pouring rain with umbrellas,” according to owner Alex Olsen, who said business was just starting to pick up at the course when it was shut down in March. He said he is thankful to be open as part of the first phase of the governor’s plan.

One of the restrictions that courses are held to for reopening is that “all tee times must be booked and paid for in advance.”

Other restrictions include keeping clubhouses, pro shops, restaurants, driving ranges and practice areas closed. 

Some courses decided not to open Friday. Sabattus Disc Golf posted on its Facebook page Wednesday: “In order to properly make the necessary changes for the health and safety of us all, we will not be opening until the middle of next week.” 

A frisbee disc golfer who goes by “Rabbit” takes some practice shots during his first visit to Dragan Field Disc Golf in Auburn during a driving rain Friday afternoon. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Even raining more on Gosselin’s parade is that the Maine Disc Golf Tour, of which he is president, suspended its season and has no plans in place to hold any events this year. 

“With everything going on and the restrictions that were just sent out to us it just doesn’t make sense to run a tour this season,” Gosselin said. 

The tour’s season opener was set for Saturday, though even that was a reschedule date from last weekend following a suspension of sanctioning by the Professional Disc Golf Association.

For the first time in its five-year history, Gosselin’s tour was incorporating PDGA-sanctioned events this year, but the PDGA’s sanctioning suspension has been extended through the end of May. That, along with the governor’s checklist of restrictions that courses must adhere to, has wiped out the event that was supposed to take place at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester.

Gosselin said he had 180 players signed up for the event, which would have been the biggest field in the tour’s history, topping the 133 players who competed in an event at Pineland Farms two years ago. 

“This was shaping up to be something quite spectacular for the sport of disc golf here in Maine,” Gosselin said. “It’s a big bummer that we’re at this position now.”

The disc golf course at Pineland Farms is open, and was booking tee times on its website Friday. 

The state’s other traveling tour, the Maine Player’s Tour, has canceled all its scheduled events through the end of May, a decision that was made in mid-April, according to Caleb Biggers, who puts on the tour along with Jason Toothaker. The current cancellations make up one-third of the originally scheduled season, Biggers said. 

“While we have not announced an official cancellation of the season, that could be the case,” Biggers said. “Each event averages about 75 players in a shotgun start, two-round tournament, making it difficult, if not impossible, to hold a tournament under the current guidelines and restrictions.

“We’re hopeful that we may be able to host a few events later in the year and host our traditional two-day championship event, if and when it is advisable to do so.” 

Gosselin said he would look into salvaging some sort of season for his tour if restrictions are lifted. 

“I enjoy hosting these events and these tournaments, so as soon as we can get back out there and run them, I’m all for it,” he said. “But it’s not looking good at this time. But we’ve seen things change rather quickly some days.”

Dragan Field Disc Golf owner Josh Connell welcomes players at the Auburn course Friday afternoon. Some hardcore players ignored the driving rain and went out on the course after not being allowed to play for the past few months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

In the meantime, Gosselin has his own course to tend to. He said he was “hit pretty hard” by not getting to open for the season until Friday. But with nicer weather in the forecast for the weekend, he expects courses around the state to be packed. 

“There are a lot of people itching to get back out there and play. My phone has not stopped going off,” Gosselin said. “So the players are excited. Course owners, we’re all excited. We’re all in a Facebook group together, so with these tough times we’ve all kind of gotten together and discussed the best ways to open, and we’re all trying to follow these guidelines the best we can.” 


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