WHITEFIELD — Patty Stevens saw the notice, and immediately sent an email to her husband, Marc.

I said, ‘There are four holes opening at Sheepscot,'” the Nobleboro resident said. “‘Are you game?’”

Patty and Marc Stevens indeed were out there, along with dozens of other golfers, as Sheepscot Links Golf Club in Whitefield opened four of its nine holes Friday in a move that, in addition to the sunny skies and mid-60s temperatures, provided a symbolic welcoming of spring.

The break won’t last; wet, dreary weather is set to return Saturday. But while spring maybe was not arriving for good, it made a cameo appearance. And area golfers were more than happy to take advantage.

“Once the time changes and it starts getting lighter later, you want to get out here and do something,” Marc Stevens said. “We’re scratching the itch a little bit. I got tired of watching it on TV.”

Sheepscot Links owner Leon Oliver had the first, second, third and ninth holes cleared and ready for play. He came up with the idea of opening them last week, and got good news when he found out the weather would feel more like mid-May than mid-March.


His strategy?

“Try to be open first,” he said, laughing.

He had to settle for a tie, as Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro opened 21 of its 36 holes for play Friday as well. Still, Oliver figured he would get a good response to his Sheepscot deal of $10 for unlimited golf on the four holes.

“Everyone’s been cooped up all winter,” he said. “I give lessons, and the last two weeks I’ve (given) twice as many lessons as I gave a month ago. They’re ready. They want to get out.”

Sure enough, the parking lot at Sheepscot Links was full by noon, and Oliver estimated he had 35 to 40 golfers ready to go out on the course and enjoy the game and the weather.

I got a pretty good response,” he said. “Even people who had to work, they were thinking of taking a day off. They knew it was going to be so nice.”


Tom Palmer putts in front of a frozen pond on the ninth green Friday at Sheepscot Links Golf Course in Whitefield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Augusta’s Tom Palmer teed off at noon. He said he started making plans to play Friday as soon as he heard the course was opening.

Once he said they were playing today, then I got excited,” he said. “‘I’ve got to get my clubs ready, which balls do I take, what am I going to wear? Should I wear shorts?’ I was like 12 years old again.”

Early spring golf is often wet, muddy and dirty, but Palmer said that’s worth putting up with to get back on the course.

“(You) get your feet wet, lose balls. It’s a struggle sometimes. Your ball embeds, you can’t find it. You get tired,” he said. “But it’s fun. … You don’t really care what you do. You’re just out there hitting, swinging.

“The ball’s not going to go the way it normally does. Some people that hit a little cut all the time, all of a sudden you stand on the tee and it’s a right to left shot. But, sitting on the couch in the winter time, that’s your swing.”

Jeff Kendall rolls his cart across a snow-covered fairway on the fourth hole Friday at Sheepscot Links Golf Course in Whitefield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Pittston’s Tracy Johnson, the women’s club champion last season, was part of the turnout as well. She said getting the golf season started rarely means getting to play in such comfortable temperatures.


I don’t know if Leon called the weatherman and ordered this up,” she said. “We don’t always get to start this early here in Maine. … Hopefully we can continue it, (and) it won’t be like a one and done and I won’t be able to play for a couple of months. I’ve done that before.”

Tracy said she and her husband, Gardiner boys lacrosse coach K.C., took a trip to Florida and brought their clubs, but never got onto a course.

“Schedule-wise, it didn’t work out,” she said. “Now we’ve been chomping at the bit, because we almost got to play in really nice weather and we didn’t, so now it’s like, ‘All right, let’s go.'”

Instead, that really nice weather traveled with her 1,500 miles north. As she headed out to the first tee, a passing player wished her a happy spring.

“Much earlier than usual,” she said. “I love it!”

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