PORTLAND – The calendar says it’s only February, but many golfers’ minds are already on the fairways and the putting greens.

Some of those restless golfers made their way to the Portland Golf Expo at the Holiday Inn by the Bay this weekend in anticipation of the upcoming season. Organizers hoped attendance over the event’s two days would top 1,000 this year.

It’s been too long since his last trip to the golf course — before Thanksgiving — for Stacey Edgerly. The 43-year-old truck driver from Cornish plans to be back out as soon as he sees enough green grass.

”I’m ready to go — itching to play,” he said.

Like-minded golfers have been calling Dunegrass Country Club in Old Orchard Beach to ask about opening day, said Domenic Pugliares, the owner. Wet, cold weather last summer meant that many didn’t get in as much golfing as they would have liked, he said.

”There’s a lot of pent-up demand,” said Pugliares, who’s hoping to open the course early, toward the end of March.

Ten-year-old Isaiah Anderson of South Portland was among those putting on the artificial-turf green set up at the expo by Cape Elizabeth-based Southwest Greens of Maine.

Isaiah’s favorite part of golf is driving the ball, but the fifth-grader knows he has to focus on other elements of his game.

”I can’t make the close shots so much,” he said. ”I’m trying to adjust my accuracy. I hit it plenty hard.”

His father, Jeremy, is a PGA apprentice and sets the example. Isaiah observes him and tries to mimic what he does.

The show, in its 16th year, is put on by Cape Elizabeth-based M&M Events, which is co-owned by Peter McFarland and Scott Mayer, a two-time Maine PGA Teacher of the Year.

McFarland said turnout Sunday seemed to be solid, but that Saturday attendance may have been down, partly because of the nice weather.

The event draws people from outside Maine. ”One of my raffle winners yesterday was from Connecticut,” McFarland said.

The expo was also a regional draw for exhibitors, with a good portion coming from Massachusetts.

One of the Massachusetts exhibitors — Joe and Leigh’s Discount Golf Pro Shop — was a busy spot at the expo.

Golfers browsed among boxes of balls and refurbished drivers as they contemplated returning to their favorite courses.

”It’s a preview of spring. It’s high hopes that spring is right around the corner,” said John Moynihan, a PGA professional and manager.

Eric Anderson, 39, of Limerick was certainly ready for spring’s arrival. Anderson, who works in production at Poland Spring, has been trying to deal with winter golf withdrawal by playing Wii and watching the Golf Channel.

He and his buddy, Steve Pomerlow, a 38-year-old Fairpoint Communications manager from Gorham, last played in November — pretty late for Maine, but still a long time ago.

Anderson is hoping some new gear may help when he plays again.

”My game’s bad enough (that) it’s got to be the clubs,” he said. ”If it’s not the clubs, it’s the golf balls. We’re going to check those out next.”

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]