The Links at Outlook in South Berwick is delaying its reopening until Saturday, in part to ensure staff is in full compliance with the state’s new rules. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Golf courses across Maine can open on Friday with strict restrictions under the state’s guidelines for reopening the economy during the coronavirus outbreak.

Foremost is that only Maine residents can play at Maine golf courses.

According to the state’s COVID-19 Prevention Checklist Industry Guidance, “Out-of-state golfers will not play on Maine golf courses until the Executive Order requiring a 14 day quarantine for out-of -state visitors is lifted by the State.”

It will be up to the managers and golf professionals at courses to enforce the residency rules.

The state’s checklist was made public Wednesday evening. Golf course managers were surprised to learn that Maine golfers must play only in the county where they reside. That provision was amended Thursday to allow members of golf courses who live in a different county to be able to play at their home club. However, for nonmembers, the county restriction remains in place.

“That was the biggest one for me,” said A.J. Kavanaugh, the director of golf at Brunswick Golf Club. The course is located in Cumberland County but “almost half of our members live just outside Cumberland County,” he said.


As a result of the in-state restrictions, the Maine State Golf Association has canceled its tournaments in May.

On the MSGA website, a statement read, “We are saddened to miss out on giving Maine golfers a chance to play in our fun and competitive events next month. However, we hope to hit the ground running in June as the state moves forward with its plan and eases restrictions on golf and all businesses.”

MSGA Executive Director Brian Bickford did not return two phone messages seeking comment.

Gov. Janet Mills announced Tuesday that golf courses could open for play on May 1 as part of the first stage of reopening Maine’s economy.

At the Links at Outlook in South Berwick, Jeff Maldonis is delaying his club’s opening until Saturday, in part to make sure he and his staff are in full compliance and ready to address the new rules. Maldonis said his course has several members who live “1.4 miles away from the golf course in Rollinsford, New Hampshire, but there’s no way they can play.”

Maldonis said he was already prepared for the likelihood of having to turn away out-of-state players. He said at his course they will be checking driver’s licenses when players check in to prove they have prepaid.


“Our first thing we’re saying when people call is you have to be a resident of York County to play our facility,” Maldonis said. “You see the 508 or 617 area codes from Massachusetts and you can pretty much tell. The Massachusetts people have been pretty understanding.”

“What would really help us is a big headline that tells people that it’s golf in your own county,” Maldonis added.

Dan Vezenio, the head pro at Portland Country Club in Falmouth, said his overriding philosophy is “let’s walk before we run, get back on the course, and fill things in as we go to be as normal as possible, but always have safety first.”

Courses and golfers will have to adjust to a number of significant rules and restrictions that will greatly diminish the social aspect associated with a round of golf, including:

The entire clubhouse, pro shop, driving range and restaurants must remain closed. No food or drink can be served.

Golfers can’t loiter at the course or a parking lot before or after a round. Signage reminding players of social distancing and other pandemic precautions will be prominent. All tee times must be booked and paid for in advance. Only one person will be allowed per golf cart. Trash cans will be removed. Scorecards and pencils won’t be available.

Kavanaugh said Brunswick Golf Club is “100 percent” ready to accept the new rules and believes the rest of the state’s courses are as well. That’s because course management knows any flagrant disregard could cause the state to shut down golf again. Many courses had opened in southern Maine prior to the governor’s original stay-at-home order, which took effect on April 2.

“Our tee sheet on Sunday is full from 7:30 in the morning to 5:12, going with the new rule of 12 minutes between tee times,” Kavanaugh said. “It’s just such a unique situation, we’re trying to stay safe and healthy, and just being able to get out and play golf is going to be such a mental health benefit for so many people.”

Riverside Golf Course in Portland plans to open Tuesday, with tee time bookings available online starting Friday. The South Course now will be using tee times, and carts will not be allowed on either of its courses.

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