The quest started innocently enough.

“I was in the Maine State Golf Association office and noticed a list of golf courses in the state,” said 70-year-old Vic Nunan of Kennebunk. “Like any other golfer, I wondered how many I had played. I think it was between 40 to 45 courses.”

He was 35 at the time.

“I got the idea to keep track. I didn’t really start to concentrate on it until about 10 years ago,” said Nunan.

His criteria for the MSGA-rated courses is that the nine-hole courses have to be over 2,500 yards and the 18-holers over 5,000 yards. Nunan has played every one in Maine and according to his figures, that would be 137 courses.

Ten years ago, Nunan made a pledge.

“I’m going to do this. I’m going to finish it,” he said.

In his 35-year campaign to play them all, Nunan has achieved it playing in tournaments and friendly games with such golfing buddies as Bob Marier, Bill Bonney and Deane Beman, the former PGA Tour commissioner. Then for the last 30 or so courses, he played on trips with his partner, JoAnn Ray.

“She’s a more avid golfer than I am,” said Nunan. “I love the game. I started playing at 9 when I was a caddie at Webhannet Golf Course in Kennebunk. I caddied every day in the summer from the time I was 11 to 16. A lot of the time I was caddying for Bill Burns, the longtime pro at Webhannet. Later I was the caddie master at the course.”

LIKELY ONE OF A KIND

Nunan has played four courses in a day, and in one trip to Aroostook County with Ray played seven courses in three days. Officials at the Maine State Golf Association weren’t aware of anyone else playing every course in the state; the closest is Romeo LaBerge, a former tournament director for the MSGA.

LaBerge said he has played every course but four and likely won’t play those.

“I would like to congratulate Vic on his accomplishment,” said LaBerge. “I know it’s been a goal of his.”

Nunan, who played golf at Sanford High and the University of Maine, has built a reverence for the game, having been associated with Webhannet as a caddie, then as a member.

Nunan caddied for both noted amateurs, John W. Levinson and his son, John O. Levinson.

“(The elder) Levinson was so obsessed with the fact that Webhannet gave you preferred lies, he said: ‘What’s this? The Perfect Lie Country Club.’ Those were the kind of stories I grew up with,” Nunan said.

Nunan has a collection of scorecards from every course he has played, including Pebble Beach and ones in Japan (where his business took him), Scotland and Ireland.

“I’ve always been a scorecard collector,” he said.

FINDING WONDERFUL PEOPLE

Playing every course in Maine has allowed him to meet some wonderful people and visit parts of the state he likely wouldn’t have seen.

“I always thought Aroostook County was flat. It’s hilly,” said Nunan, “and the people are wonderful.”

The friendliest courses in the state? Limestone Country Club and Island Country Club on Deer Isle.

“At Limestone there were retired Air Force guys who wanted us to have lunch with them. At Island CC, we played through five guys drinking beer. One of them had one leg,” said Nunan.

“We told them our goal was to play every course in the state. They wanted to buy us beer and talk about the courses we had played.”

Nunan has played Maine’s five island courses: Chebeague, North Haven, Tarratine, Mt. Kineo and Frye Island.

“People have asked me if I could play only one course every day for the rest of my life, which one would it be,” said Nunan.

“It’s a tossup between Webhannet and Waterville.”

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

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