It’s that time of year again.
Winter is slowly departing to be replaced by spring or, in many areas, mud season.
That also means eager golfers are digging out their clubs and cold weather gear in anticipation of hitting the links.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook,” said Lenny Espling, who owns and manages the Barren View Golf Course in Jonesboro. He had hoped to open this weekend, but a 6-inch snowfall Wednesday and the potential for 3 more inches Friday could push it back.
“You can’t fight Mother Nature,” Espling said.
Some golf courses, such as Hermon Meadow Golf Club in Hermon, have already opened with nine of 18 holes in play but no riding carts allowed.
Bangor Municipal Golf Course is probably two weeks away from opening, and Presque Isle Country Club, which received approximately 150 inches of snow, likely will open the last week of April or first week of May.
“It has been a long winter,” said Presque Isle Country Club pro and club manager Barry Madore. “But if it’s like every other year, no matter how much snow we get, we always seem to open around the 28th of April to the fifth of May.”
Madore said the bigger issue this winter was the wind, which caused a quonset hut containing golf carts to collapse.
“I’ve never seen our golf course more affected by wind than it was this winter. I’ve never seen it blow as hard,” said Madore, who noted that the wind also caused massive snowdrifts.
The Biddeford/Saco Country Club in Saco opened Friday with nine of its 18 holes in play.
“It was a good winter. We survived the ice real well,” club pro Rick Altham said.
He said the course used black sunflower seeds on the greens to combat the ice and that it worked wonders.
Owner John Snyer said Hermon Meadow opened Monday, and he said they had approximately 50 golfers play as of Thursday.
“We took all the snow and the ice off the greens about a month and a half ago,” Snyer said. “The greens and the course look great.”
He expects to open a few more holes this weekend.
Mark Hall, the golf pro at Orono’s Penobscot Valley Country Club, plans to open the front nine on Sunday, although it will depend on the extent of the snowfall Friday night and the drying conditions over the weekend.
Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-50s in the Bangor area on Saturday and Sunday.
“We’ll probably open the back nine in a week,” Hall said. “The course is in really good shape. We just want to be able to cut new cups and roll the greens [before play begins].”
Hall said he has been getting 20-30 calls a day asking when PVCC will open.
Mikka Pelletier, the general manager at the Bucksport Golf Club, said the course is wet but is expecting to open in the next couple of weeks.
A corporate spokesman said there is still snow on the ground at the Sunday River Golf Club in Bethel, and Rob Olsen, the co-owner of the Hidden Meadows Golf Course in Old Town, estimates an April 20 opening.
“We still have frost on the course,” Olsen said.
“We scraped the ice off the greens twice, in January and in March,” said Olsen, who described winter kill and damage as minimal.
Olsen and Bangor Municipal Golf Course pro Rob Jarvis said it is important not to open too early because their courses would be more susceptible to damage.
“I understand people really want to play. I want to play,” Jarvis said. “But our golfers tell us they want it to open only when it’s ready. They don’t want us to push it.”
Jarvis said in addition to protecting the course, they also want to make sure the golfers have a positive experience by playing on a dry, well-manicured golf course.
Jarvis said a rainy fall also contributed to a buildup of 4 to 5 feet of frost.
“There’s still a lot of ground water we need to go away,” he said.
It will take most courses awhile to dry out before carts will be allowed.