It’s Masters’ Sunday. We’ll all crowd around our TVs and watch the drama unfold on the back nine. While enjoying the green vistas and beautiful flowers of Augusta National, we can dream of sunny days and green grass in our own little corner of the universe.

The warm weather at the start of spring has enabled golf courses across the state to get a head start on the season. The courses are two to three weeks ahead of schedule in terms of conditioning.

Most courses in the state are open, and those that aren’t will be opening over the next few weeks.

Various courses still have their issues. The rainiest March on record caused some damage, but a mild winter followed by record temperatures have given golfers something to cheer about.

After last year’s rainy June and July, local courses and golfers deserve a good year.

“We’re in full operating mode,” said Nick Glicos, co-owner and director of golf at Martindale Country Club in Auburn.

Martindale, which hosted last year’s Maine Amateur, opened a full two weeks ahead of its usual target date of April 15. Glicos said the course is substantially ahead of its early maintenance tasks.

“We’re able to start some projects we wouldn’t have been able to get to until later,” he said. “At the start of the season, we’re usually doing things like rebuilding the turf or fixing broken irrigation pipes. We’re probably in as good of shape as we’ve been in a while. We’re really greening up. It’s almost like we didn’t have a winter. There wasn’t a lot of frost. We feel really lucky.”

Those in the Maine golf industry hope the trend of good weather continues. Last season got off to a slow start and then nearly grounded to a halt in June and July, months when golf courses are typically busy.

“Last year, we had some temporary greens until the first week of June,” said Glicos, who purchased the course with Jim Day from members late last fall.

The course also had the pressure of getting ready for the state amateur. One round of that event was postponed because of rain. Despite the challenges, the course proved a worthy test.

“Last season was a horrible season for any recreational business,” said Glicos. “You had a tough winter, the recession was still around, and then the rain in June and July came.”

A strong August and more good weather in September and October helped salvage the season somewhat.

Other courses came through the winter in good shape, too.

“That’s what I’ve been hearing,” said Glicos. “I haven’t heard of any damage. It’s all positive and we’re really excited about the season.”

 

TEE TO GREEN: Sam Marzenell is the new head pro at Dunegrass Country Club in Old Orchard Beach. Marzenell spent the last six years as an assistant pro at Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport. Before that, he worked for the Maine State Golf Association while attending the University of Maine at Farmington.

“It was time for me to move forward,” said Marzenell of his new position.

Marzenell reports a brisk start to the season, as golfers are anxious to play.

“Business has been excellent,” said Marzenell. “It feels like June. The course came through the winter very well,”

Dunegrass has moved its pro shop from the first floor to parking lot level.

Marzenell said some early season projects at the course include improving drainage and upgrading the practice facility.

 

IN JULY 2012, New Hampshire will lose the tag as one of only three states never to have hosted a United States Golf Association championship. Last month, the Golf Club of New England in Stratham, N.H., was awarded the 2012 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship by the USGA. The tournament will be played July 16-21. The U.S. Junior Amateur is open to male golfers who are under 18 and have a USGA handicap index that does not exceed 6.4.

Alaska and Utah are the other states that haven’t hosted a USGA championship. Utah will also end that distinction in 2012, as it has been awarded the U.S. Amateur Public Links.

Maine hosted the U.S. Public Links Championship in 1978 at Bangor Municipal.

The Maine State Golf Association got an early start on its weekly amateur tournament schedule by hosting a tournament Friday and Saturday at the Bath Country Club.

 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]