A bit like the Hotel California, Maine is a place you can check out of, but never leave. Especially during a Maine blizzard, while it is prime golfing weather in Florida.
At places like the Rivard Golf Club in Brooksville, the Weather Channel is on the clubhouse television even more than the Golf Channel (especially when Tiger Woods is not playing.)
On Sunday, when the latest blizzard was brewing in Maine, the Maine irregulars gathered around the clubhouse television.
Marcia Faulkingham, ex of Bangor, runs the clubhouse snack bar and makes sure the golfers get their dose of winter weather reports. There always seems to be a few Mainers in the club, she said.
Local legend has it that a hot rod Portland real estate salesman, Guy Sturgin of Deltona Homes, started selling lots in the 1960s and ’70s to more and more Mainers around the Brooksville area. The more lots were sold, the more word of mouth spread around the Pine Tree State about escape from winter’s woes.
Faulkingham started golfing in Bar Harbor with pal Al Gross. When he came down to Florida and started golfing at Rivard, she came with him. Gross ran the golf cart facility at the club until he died in 2003. Faulkingham asked if she could take over his job, but club officials suggested the clubhouse instead. “I was scared stiff. I had never done anything like that before,” she said. Now she is the mother hen of the Maine outfit, packing coolers for the thirsty golfers — playing twice a week at age 81, shooting a decent 50 for nine holes. She enjoys using her quiet, controlled game to beat the big hitters who spray the ball all over the course.
T.V. Chambers, universally known as “Coach,” has worked in the pro shop for 14 years. He said the Maine contingent is the biggest group from one state, edging Michigan and the bunch from all over Canada. “They are a great group, not a grumpy one in the bunch, except for Marcia. They all seem to get along and they just love to watch reports about the bad weather back in Maine.”
Chambers got the “Coach’ nickname for his work in coaching baseball, football and golf in local schools. He coached Bronson Arroyo as a young man and was a Red Sox fan until they traded Arroyo away.
On Sunday, laughing the loudest at the mounting snow reports on the Weather Channel was Dan Tarr of Parkman, a retired paper company carpenter.
Long-haul truck driver Mark Preston, another Bangor reject, was sharing a pitcher of beer with another Mainer who had just whipped Preston on his own course.
Another retired long-haul driver, Shel Estabrook was in the group gathered around the screen. Now Estabrook is from Wareham, Mass. But he had the good and great sense to wear a Red Sox hat, so he was allowed into the fraternity. The more it snowed, the better they liked it.
Mainers are everywhere.
If you stood out on Hole 15, a par four, 415-yard monster (a hole I have parred twice, I might add), you might run into Richard Estes who is a retired Portland banker, who lived in New Gloucester. No one likes bankers these days, but Maine golfers are always willing to cut a fellow duffer a break or two.
If you were driving on 17, a petite 145-yard challenge (where I came within a whisker of a hole in one. Honest to God, it rolled right over the hole) you might be waiting for Bruce Rafnel, a retired Maine state trooper from Bowdoinham. No one gives him grief — about anything.
The Mainers come in all shapes, sizes and walks of life. You know Mainers love to lend a helping hand.
Retired teacher George Spivey from Auburn occasionally uses his teaching techniques to aid fellow golfers. Need help with home-decorating questions? Add retired florist Pauline Blais of Lewiston to your next foursome.
If anyone has trouble with their phone lines or television hookup, they could always ask retired telephone worker Bud Brooks, ex of Falmouth, for some help. Trouble with electrical system? Shoot a few rounds with retired electrician Terry Campbell of West Paris and ask him for some assistance. Let him win a few holes to put him in the mood.
You could always shoot a round with Joe Lounsbury, a retired Shop ’n Save owner from Hampden, for food shopping tips. Shoot the back nine with retired baker Roy Leighton from Hampden and ask how to make that loaf of multigrain bread come out just right.
If you need to fill out your Maine foursome, try retired railroad worker John McGuff from Hermon, Roy Sampson from Auburn or Dick Asselin from Lewiston. If they can’t make it, try Barbara James, former secretary at the Bethel Inn, or Paul Barrows, a retired military man from Island Falls.
In virtually every corner of the Rivard Golf Club, there is always a piece, maybe two, of the great state of Maine. You can check out of Maine, but you can never leave, not really. Not completely.
Is that more snow in the forecast?
Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at email@example.com.