Hurricane Arthur forced the cancellation of the 89th Fourth of July Swat Fest at the Great Chebeague Golf Club, the venerable nine hole golf course in the middle of Casco Bay. This unique event dreamed up by B.R.T. Collins, one of the founders of the club, has been honored every year since 1925. As Dr. Weld in his history of the club described, the Swat Fest had “35 or more” teeing off from the same hole at the same time, a huge social gathering, walking and playing together until eliminated by a better score. It proved to be so popular with the members that a second event was added each year in August to welcome the summer visitors that had not arrived by the Fourth of July event. More members and guests were added until more than 100 regularly participated: lobstermen, carpenters, gardeners, and teachers socializing with summer rusticators.

The first hole is the best with an army of club-swinging golfers across the wharf road to the Green by the Chebeague Inn. Recently the members have added a junior event played on the wide open fairways of the third, ninth, and eighth holes south of the club house. Neighbor Russ Hunter has played in most of the Swat Fests and looks forward to the resumed event this year on Labor Day weekend. Sitting on his porch overlooking the fourth and fifth fairways and Casco Bay beyond, he remembered four generations of his family playing. “It is a social ritual on this little island that so many people enjoy. Watching the families grow up and new generations join in.”

Frequently the championship is determined on the seventh hole, the club’s signature “water hole,” teeing on the Stone Wharf and lofting shots across a tidal inlet to a steeply sloping postage stamp green. The grounds crew has placed the cup at the bottom of a natural trough in the slope in the “birdie” spot. On one memorable Swat Fest occasion two sisters vied for the women’s Swat Fest championship on that seventh hole; the first sister hit her tee shot to the middle of the upper tier and her ball rolled down to inches from the cup. Her sister then lofted a shot to the same place at the top of the green and her shot tolled down the slope and found the bottom of the cup for a hole in one, the title, and a Chebeague golfing legend.

It is a glorious island summer tradition that will be continued again, this year on Labor Day weekend.

— Special to the Telegram.