Posted: August 29, 2018
6 of Maine’s most scenic golf courses
Written by: Mary Ruoff
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It makes sense that the same coastal and mountain areas of Maine that have long drawn tourists for their beauty would also be home to some of New England’s best golf courses. If there’s a golfer in your family, why not make a trip out of traveling to one of these scenic links? Because Maine has about 150 courses in total, not all could make the cut, but here’s a sampling of some of the fairer fairways in different areas of the state, complete with greens fees, course highlights and dining options. Note: Courses occasionally close for tournaments and events.
Sunday River Country Club is nestled in the Mahoosuc Range. Photo courtesy of Sunday River Country Club
SUNDAY RIVER COUNTRY CLUB
Newry, sundayrivergolfclub.com, 824-4653
Nestled in Mahoosuc Range, slopes rise on both sides of this Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course. "He specifically called this one of his best mountain courses," said Peter Ruymann, head golf professional at Sunday River Country Club. Known for challenging elevation changes, its first nine holes are down in Sunday River Valley and the back nine higher up. An ownership dispute (the course isn't part of Sunday River ski resort) putted the course into the headlines, but new management is on par with the quality of the course itself, said Ruymann. Autumn is prime golfing time here; rates don't drop before the season ends in late October. Greens fees (cart included) are $110 from Friday to Sunday, $90 Monday to Thursday, and $60 for Maine residents on Wednesdays.
The first six holes on the back nine at Sugarloaf Golf Club follow the Carrabassett River. Photo courtesy of Sugarloaf Golf Club
SUGARLOAF GOLF CLUB
Sugarloaf Resort, Carrabassett Valley, sugarloaf.com, 237-6812, tee times: (800) 843-5623
Arrayed on the side of its namesake mountain, also a winter ski destination, this is Maine's premier course, according to Golfweek. September is a big golfing month here as fall colors brighten the panoramic mountain views. The first six holes on the back nine – christened the "String of Pearls" by course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. – follow the Carrabassett River. The waterway crosses four holes (11, the "crown jewel," has a 120-foot elevation). Split-rail fences meld with the scenery. At the clubhouse, built in 2007, Strokes Bar & Grill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has a patio where you can savor the mountain views. Greens fees (cart included) vary based on day, time and availability, ranging from $70 to $164 from mid-June to Oct. 14, when the course closes. Maine residents golf for $59 on Wednesdays.
Samoset's golf director says pictures of the course don't even do it justice. Photo courtesy of Samoset Resort
SAMOSET GOLF COURSE
Samoset Resort, Rockport, samosetresort.com, 594-1431
One of New England's few public oceanside courses abuts the hotel at this high-end resort, which Golf Digest hails as a top family golf destination. Sprawled on the point where Rockland Harbor's north side meets Penobscot Bay, expansive water views unfurl from 14 holes, half of which are oceanside. Elevating on coastal nubs are Hole 3 overlooking Rockland Breakwater and Lighthouse and "signature" 5-par Hole 4. Often asked if the course is as nice as photos suggest, golf director Gary Soule replies, "They don't do it justice." Sea breezes blow, schooners sail by, seals chill on rocks at low tide. Trees accent fairways and greens with fall color. Dine at the hotel restaurant's course-side patio or go for a Lob Shot Roll (yes, lobster) at Clubhouse Grill. Greens fees drop from $135 to $95, cart included, in the fall shoulder season, Sept. 10 to Oct. 31.
Belgrade Lakes Golf Club has been named one of the best public courses in the country. Photo courtesy of Belgrade Lakes Golf Club
BELGRADE LAKES GOLF CLUB
Belgrade Lakes, belgradelakesgolf.com, 495-4653
Panoramic views of lake-strewn countryside greet you at this hilltop course overlooking a Central Maine community that swells with seasonal residents. In fall, leaf-peepers drive up to the turnaround to bask in the scenery and sit in the gazebo. Some amble in for a bite at the low-key restaurant, which has a snack bar menu and two decks. The Belgrade Breeze, with freshly squeezed lemonade, soda water and vodka, is the signature drink. Dogs are welcome, too, even on the course. There's an informality about this place that's part of its charm – and renown. Golf Digest ranks it Maine's No. 1 course, and it's the only New England one on the magazine's list of the nation's 100 best public courses. Belgrade Lakes has a very Yankee touch: Boulders disturbed during construction were piled about as part of the design. Greens fees drop from $145 to $80 (cart $30) in October. The season ends on Halloween.
Sea breezes blow through Kebo Valley Club in Bar Harbor. Photo courtesy of Kebo Valley Club
KEBO VALLEY CLUB
Bar Harbor, kebovalleyclub.com, 288-3000
Founded in 1888, Maine’s oldest golf club (and the nation’s eighth) borders Acadia National Park at the edge of this tourist town. On the course’s front section, Cadillac, Dorr and Kebo mountains huddle in view. Golfers play right along mountain bases on the back nine; more peaks are visible in the distance. Bridges cross Kebo River, which flows through the heart of the course. Cooling sea breezes blow up Kebo Valley. You can’t see the mountains from the deck of the hillside clubhouse pub, which touts its lunch as one of Bar Harbor’s “best kept secrets,” but hardwoods dot the scene with autumn color. Greens fees drop in September to $74 (cart $20); the season ends Nov. 15, weather-allowing.
The Aroostook Valley Country Club course cross the border into Canada. Photo courtesy of Aroostook Valley Country Club
AROOSTOOK VALLEY COUNTRY CLUB
Fort Fairfield/Four Falls New Brunswick, avcc.ca, 476-8083, (800) 980-8747
From this hilly Aroostook River Valley course, you can see great distances: Mars Hill rises 30 miles to the south. The river isn't in view, but woodland and farmland scenes, especially pretty come autumn, unfold. Holes 3, 14 and 18 are the most scenic at this borderland; the course and clubhouse are in Canada, while the pro shop and parking lot are in Fort Fairfield. The setup allowed Americans to drink legally at the club during Prohibition, but in 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security put a stop to Canadians entering on a local road. Now they cross in town, and thankfully U.S. residents don't need passports. General manager and golf professional Stephen Leitch said folks who play here when visiting or passing through "tend to come back year after year." Green fees are $45 (cart $20). The season ends in mid-October.