The snow had melted, the ground was drying out and Brunswick Golf Club was about to open.

And then came the weekend. And snow. Lots of snow.

“We were snow-free probably by the 10th or 15th of March, really early for us,” said A.J. Kavanaugh, Brunswick’s director of golf. “We’ve had some March openings, so it kind of felt like we were having one of those springs.

“But Mother Nature had other ideas.”

A winter that seemed to be meekly giving way to spring instead landed one more haymaker last weekend. After weeks of mild temperatures and dry weather, Maine was pummeled by a storm that brought inches to feet of snow throughout the state, followed by freezing rain that caused extensive tree damage and power outages.

For some of the state’s golf scene, the timing was deflating. Courses that had already opened or were rolling toward an early opening after a better-than-expected March instead saw their operations delayed just before flipping the calendar to April.


“Our back nine was extremely close to being playable. We wanted to wait until we could have carts out there,” Kavanaugh said. “I feel like I haven’t had this happen like this before. We were as clear on the golf course (as ever). We’ve opened the course with snow on the front nine before. … (But the weather) can throw you curveballs, and this was a disappointing one to say the least.”

Kavanaugh and others at the course dared to hope for a March opening. Now it will happen in April, likely by the second weekend.

“If we got zero snow over (last) weekend, I thought this weekend was certainly looking like the opening of the back nine,” he said. “Now that we’ve gotten the (snow) plus the ice, it’s probably looking at what we’re always hopeful of, having the back nine open at Masters weekend.”

Willowdale Golf Club in Scarborough wasn’t open but was “getting close,” General Manager Pamela Lewis said, and is instead scheduled to open as usual in mid-April. Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro, annually an early starter, had opened 18 of its 36 holes, only for the snow to come through two weeks later and force the course to close.

Dickie Browne, the Natanis owner, was enjoying the fast, “earlier-than-average” start. But he also knows March in Maine.

“We had such a mild winter that I was sitting there going, ‘When’s it going to end?'” Browne said. “We were getting ready to mow greens and everything, that’s how close we were. … But you expect that in Maine, this time of year.”


Browne said the snow likely backs Natanis up a week and a half, and he’s looking for a “soft opening” by the start or middle of this week.

“If we’re open in March, it’s kind of a bonus,” Browne said. “If you lose those days in June, you’re screwed. You can’t get those days back.”

Another course among the first in the state to open is Nonesuch River Golf Club in Scarborough, which typically opens around April 1 and last year had all 18 holes open March 28. This year the course opened March 13, and Dan Hourihan, the owner and general manager, said the plan is to reopen Sunday or Monday.

Even with the promising start, Hourihan assumed there was a catch coming.

“This happens all the time. You always get a March storm. People always forget that,” Hourihan said. “It’s something we deal with. It’s unusual to be clear in mid-March and not have an issue going forward.”

Hourihan said Nonesuch improved its drainage in the fall, allowing it to rebound so quickly from the wet weather.


“Based on what happened last summer with all that rain, there was some draining that failed. So this past fall we fixed a lot of drainage, it wasn’t really functioning to capacity,” he said. “Our No. 1 project this fall was drainage. So some of the areas that were problematic were dry.”

Dunegrass Golf Club in Old Orchard Beach typically opens between March 24 and 28, said Danny Pugliares, the director of golf, but had 18 holes open March 14 this season. Pugliares said the snow has melted but the storm swept everything from pine needles to fallen tree branches onto the course, and club members will be helping with the cleanup Monday.

Pugliares said he expects the course to reopen Wednesday, and be in the condition it was pre-snow the next week.

“We thought we were going to get lucky after last season, when it rained all season,” he said. “It’s what we were all thinking, but Mother Nature didn’t want to agree with us.

“From a business standpoint, you’re disappointed because you think you’re going to start opening up and getting business out there, and as a member and player you’re disappointed because you got out there for your first round and you think the season’s going. But hopefully we’ll open up next week, and we’ll forget all about it.”

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