Will Kannegieser reacts after sinking a birdie putt on the second hole, the 20th hole of the match to win the Maine State Golf Association Match Play Championship at Spring Meadows Golf Club in Gray on Aug. 6. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The Spring Meadows Golf Club has done what no other golf course in Maine has done, earn the honor of the New England Golf Course Owners Association’s Golf Course of the Year.

The award has been handed out since 2002. Spring Meadows also is in the running for national course of the year — the Gray course is already in the final four — which is awarded by the National Golf Course Owners Association at the annual Golf Business Conference. The conference is being held virtually Jan. 25-27, 2021.

Spring Meadows owner and president Dave Pollard said that the 2021 New England Golf Course Owners Association Golf Course Golf Course of the Year award was won not just by the hard work by he and his staff in 2020, but also for the past 21 years since he opened the golf course in 1999. At first it was a nine-hole course before expanding to 18 holes in 2001.

“We are very pleased to have received the award,” Pollard said. “It’s nice to be recognized for the hard work we all do at Spring Meadows. As far as what it means to us, it’s nice to be recognized as an entire team. It’s an entire team effort for sure. It’s also a credit to our playing public and to our members who have supported us for 21 years.”

Will Kannegieser, left, reacts after sinking a putt on the 18th hole to keep the score tied with Joe Hamilton during the Maine State Golf Association Match Play Championship at Spring Meadows Golf Club in Gray on Aug. 6. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

There are five main criteria the New England Golf Course Owners Association looks at when choosing its course of the year: exceptional quality of the course, exceptional quality of ownership and management, outstanding contribution to the local community and significant contributions to the game of golf.

Spring Meadows’ application for the award said, “No company is too small; each fundraiser is equally essential; each player is treated equally and seen as a long-term investment in golf.”

The course is also the home to the Gray-New Gloucester golf team and hosts the St. Joseph’s College’s annual Alumni & Friends Golf Classic, which serves as one of the St. Joe’s athletic department’s largest fundraisers.

In the fall, the club offers reduced green fees to customers who bring in canned goods that are donated to a local food bank.

Pollard said the biggest annual event at the course is the Tee Up for Ta-Ta’s Golf Tournament, which began in honor of Candace Forsley, the sister of Shipyard Brewing’s owner Fred Forsley, who died after a battle with cancer in 2008.

“It raises funds for breast cancer, and all the proceeds stay right (here) locally,” Pollard said.

In 2020, Spring Meadows hosted the Maine State Golf Association’s Match Play tournament in August, at which Minot native Will Kannegieser took home his second straight title. The course also hosts weekly league events.

Adjustments have been made to the course the past few years since Luke Gagne was hired in 2018 as groundskeeper, including firming up the greens on the course.

The 2020 golf season was unlike any other due to the coronavirus pandemic. Golf courses shut down in the early spring while rules and regulations were being decided. Spring Meadows didn’t open until May 1.

“Let’s face it, we opened up the year, not knowing exactly if we were going to have any type of year at all. We didn’t open until May 1,” Pollard said. “All the courses in Maine, New England, across the country didn’t know if they were going to have anything at all. We had to educate our employees, sanitation processes had to be put in place, and these (Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines were ever-changing throughout the year.

“It’s certainly a credit to our staff and credit to our employees who have been able to deliver on the CDC guidelines. But it’s also a credit to our players, who were very understanding through this whole process.”

Pollard said the late start didn’t hamper the golf side of his business, as 2020 was one of the club’s best years, with more than 28,000 rounds played. Part of it was that casual golfers were playing more this year since golf tends to be a socially-distanced game. Pollard said that he believes that those casual golfers will continue to play more in the years to come.

Pollard — who also serves as president of the Golf Maine Association, is the vice president of the New England Golf Course Owners Association, and serves as a director for the Maine Golf Hall of Fame — said courses will continue to adapt in 2021.

“Obviously, the mass vaccinations will have a lot to do with it,” Pollard said. “I don’t think we will be back to normal in four months, for sure, but I think when we get into the second quarter in the mid-summer, I think there will be a move that will take us back to somewhat of normalcy. I don’t know if we will be back to normal as we’ve seen it before, but who knows?”

Joe Hamilton hits out of the bunker on the 16th hole during the Maine State Golf Association Match Play Championship at Spring Meadows Golf Club in Gray on Aug. 6. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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