BANGOR, Maine — Temperatures ranging from highs in the 80s in March to lows in the teens in late April, punctuated with stretches of dry weather and occasional downpours, apparently haven’t hurt conditions at Maine golf courses.
Still, golf club pros are seeing an occasional oddity.
“Some of the turf diseases that usually come later in the year” are cropping up now, said Northport Golf Club head pro Peter Hodgkins on a chilly (47 degrees), showery Friday.
“We’re seeing pink snow mold, pink and gray,” added Hodgkins. “We usually see that in the late fall when we’re getting ready to close up. With the damp and cold, it feels like [fall], so the spores have let themselves go.”
Bangor Municipal Golf Course had to start watering in April.
“April 17-20, in that area, we were running the irrigation for 3-4 nights in a row,” said Bangor head pro Brian Enman. “We’re usually not even open then.”
In that stretch, one day hit 83, others were 71 and 65, then the temps settled into the 50s. There was little to no rain, though, forcing Enman and his staff to turn to irrigation.
“We’ve never run irrigation that early, but it was really, really dry,” Enman said.
That’s not the case since several inches fell in a few hours on April 23.
“We got 4¼ inches that day,” said Hodgkins.
Northport Golf Club sits in a sort of bowl in the Bayside area of Northport. The flat infield area can turn soggy when subjected to a lot of rain, but that wasn’t the case on April 23.
“It came down so fast, it [mostly] just ran off,” said Hodgkins. “Two days later we were all dried out and ready to go.”
Since then, though, the storms and showers that have blown through have dropped their rain more slowly and the water table is above normal.
For Hodgkins, his barometer will be small, green and numerous.
“I think the leaves are going to pop soon,” he said.
“The earliest ever was the 17th of May,” added Hodgkins, who writes down that date every year, much like others document ice-out on their favorite lakes.
“If I can stand [in the clubhouse] and look through [the trees] and see the maintenance shed [on the other side of the nine-hole course], they haven’t popped,” he said.
The early warm weather has had one side effect to be wary of.
“I’m noticing a lot of ticks,” said Hodgkins.
Something else he and many other clubs are having to keep an eye out for are grubs.
“When the grass starts getting thinner and off-color, that’s when the grubs are coming in and eating the roots,” Hodgkins said. That’s when the birds and animals swoop in.
“The skunks at night and the crows and smaller birds in the daytime,” he said. “They can really tear up the ground.”
Enman only has one wish.
“I’m really happy with the way the course came through [the winter],” said Enman. “I would like a little bit of sun now to make it even better.”
The Harris Cup
The Harris Golf Co. is offering a season-long competition this year based on performances in the Maine State Golf Association weekend tournaments.
Players in each of four handicap-based flights will accumulate points according to their finishes, and the totals at the end of the season in November will determine the players who will divvy up a total prize pool of nearly $20,000.
Five places gross and five net in each of the four classes will earn merchandise credit based on their place. The gross champion in each flight will be awarded a Harris Cup.
Scoring started with the first official weekend event April 20-21 at Biddeford-Saco Country Club in Saco. The final scheduled event is Nov. 9-10 at The Links at Outlook in South Berwick.
Harding Memorial tourney
The 19th annual David R. Harding Memorial Golf Tournament will be held May 22 at Kebo Valley Golf Club in Bar Harbor, sponsored by Bar Harbor Bank and Trust. The rain date is May 29.
The charity beneficiary is the James C. MacLeod Scholarship Fund, which is being established at Mount Desert Island High School for graduates attending a trade or vocational school.
It’s an 18-hole scramble event for men and women with an 11:30 a.m. shotgun start. The registration fee is $85 per person with prizes totaling $2,200. Hole-in-one prizes include a 2012 Chevy Cruze from Darling’s Chevrolet in Ellsworth and a Vespa S50 scooter from Stanley Scooters in Ellsworth.
To register a team, call Cathy Planchart at 667-0660, ext. 4655, or go to BHBT.com.