Leon Oliver loves to give the customers of Sheepscot Links Golf Course the same line every season.

“I like to tell people I’m open 365 days a year, weather permitting,” Oliver laughed.

While Oliver, the owner of the 9-hole course in Whitefield, is able to joke about recent storms that hit Maine — including a Nor’easter earlier this month and hard rain last week — other area courses are not so pleased.

“I would have been open by now if it wasn’t for that snowstorm,” said Steve Demmer, the general manager and director of golf for the Augusta Country Club in Manchester. “And now we’re flooded (from last week’s rain). We were playing golf this time last year.”

The unpredictability of spring weather often takes a toll on golf courses, and this year is no exception. And while work crews try to get the grounds as cleaned, trimmed and dry as they possibly can, sometimes Mother Nature has a different plan.

“(The course) is flooded, I can’t get any equipment out there to do any maintenance. I can’t put golf carts out there. You can’t even walk out there,” Demmer said. “I’ve got streams running down my 18th fairway.”


Fred Hall tees off March 20 at The Meadows Golf Club in Litchfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Augusta was set to open at the beginning of the month. But then a storm dumped 7 inches of snow on Manchester. And last week’s rain only prolonged the opening for the golf course, which had a season-opening party on April 5. The delayed opening, Demmer said, that could be costly.

“Every day it rains, from (last Friday) forward, it goes at $1,000 per day, and up, in lost revenues,” Demmer said. “It goes up quick. You have lost push cart sales. You have lost cart revenue. You’ve got lost greens fees, lost bar sales, lost restaurant sales. It’s not when the golf course can open, it’s if the golf course can open.”

Forecasts call for better weather in the area this week, including sunny conditions and 60-degree temperatures on Monday. But even with better temperatures, Demmer said it would be awhile before his golf course was back to normal.

“It’s going to take a week or two (for the course) to dry out,” Demmer said. “Any more rain on top of this, you’re right back to where you started from. We need a drought. We basically need a drought of 30-45 days to get some sort of normalization in the turf conditions.”

Oliver, who bought Sheepscot in 2019, was confident his course would be back to normal in short order.

“I don’t get too worried about it, I guess, just because (bad weather) can happen here,” Oliver said. “But, if you get three weeks (of nice weather), you get really fired up to go. Then all of a sudden, you get another storm. It’s kind of disappointing, but it is Maine. At least some people got to play a little bit before the storm came.”


On Monday, golfers were out in force at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro. While the course appeared to be in excellent shape from the previous storms, it didn’t come from a lack of effort,  Natanis General Manager Al Browne said. The course has been open since the beginning of March.

“We’re in excellent shape, the turf itself is just great,” Browne said. “We didn’t have any winter damage. We lost maybe 1,000 trees over the winter, with all the storms. But for the most part, we’ve got it all cleaned up. There’s a lot of little stuff you can’t get to yet. But we’ve got a 30-person crew working on it.

“We opened the first week of March, and then closed during the first snowstorm. Then we opened back up and closed after the last snowstorm. We opened again with carts, but then got 2 1/2 inches of rain last week. You prefer to not have all those trees fall down, that’s a lot of extra work that you normally wouldn’t have, at a time of year where you don’t have a large crew.”

Work was also being done Monday at the Waterville Country Club in Oakland, in anticipation of the course’s opening. General manager Nick Pelotte said an announcement should be made before the end of the week.

“We wintered well, which is important to any golf course,” Pelotte said. “The grow-in came pretty well, we don’t have any damage to report. Our members should really enjoy that. We should be playing some real golf from the onset, which is good. … The weather looks good this week into next weekend, which I think is helpful. I think our goal would be to nail down a (start) date and tell our members probably in the next 48 hours. We hope it to be sooner rather than later. Judging by what’s going on, I think that will be the case.”

Pelotte said the course’s opening should be on par with previous years.

“In the past two years (after COVID), we (started) about the 9th or 10th of April, that’s pretty early,” Pelotte said. “Last year, I think we (started) April 17. It seems like we had a couple of early (starts). We were trending in that direction, but the last two snowstorms seemed to make up the entirety of our winter. It’s Maine. You feel like sometimes you get all four seasons in a month’s span. … It set us back like probably most everybody else.”

The Meadows Golf Club in Litchfield has been open since March 15, and much like other area courses, have been forced to shut down over periods due to storms. The club, back up and running, has kept customers up to date on conditions with videos on its Facebook page.

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