Saturday, June 30, 2012

Round #34: Maine - Sugarloaf Golf Club

There is a 4-letter word that best describes the kind of day we had on Tuesday: R-A-I-N.  We drove back into New Hampshire from Vermont where we stayed overnight in Lancaster. It was raining the next day when we started a 120-mile drive to the town of Carrabassett Valley, Maine. The road took us through a scenic and remote area of the upper New England region.
Covered bridge in Groveton, New Hampshire

One interesting stop along the road was in Rangeley, Maine. The quilt shop was not as interesting to me as was the garden in the back. Apparently the property’s owner is a part-time plumber, musician and gardener. He created a unique piece of art for his garden that exemplified his talents using re-claimed brass drain pipes.
Threads Galore Quilt Shop

The back yard garden

Art is in the eye of the beholder

It was still raining when we arrived at the Sugarloaf Golf Club a few hours later. A check of the radar map in the pro shop indicated a very slight chance that the weather might clear temporarily (at least that is how an optimist would read the radar map!). We ate lunch at Sugarloaf in front of a wall of windows that provided a excellent view of the continuous rainfall. The rain just never stopped. 
It was now time to make a decision: to play or not to play. I was the first customer of the day to pay a greens fee at the Sugarloaf Golf Club.

Round: #34
Location: Carrabassett Valley, ME
Golf Digest Best-In-State Rank: #1
Date: 26 Jun, tee off at 12:30 PM
Conditions: steady rain, 2 MPH wind, 57 degrees
Yardage: 6,451
Lost balls: 3
Score: 82 on a par 72
The rain gear came out and I was ready to put my DryJoy golf shoes to the test. The pro shop directed me to the first tee where I started to play the round by myself under a light rain fall. My warm-up consisted of a couple of practice swings on the 1st tee box. The impact of spending several hours in a car followed by no warm-up was obvious on the golf course. I went 11-strokes over par through the first 7-holes including 2 triple bogeys. It was not a good start.
 406-yard par 4 hole #1 (view from the green back up the fairway)

 536-yard par 5 hole #2 (view from the rough)

190-yard par 3 hole #3

The course was in terrible condition. The fairways had patches of dead grass and dirt. It looked like they were in the middle of repairing some areas but had yet to lay the new sod. Putting on the greens was quite a challenge where irregularities in the grass made the ball roll very unpredictable. Sugarloaf was in the process of installing a new irrigation system which will hopefully address their problems. In spite of the poor playing conditions, things started to change for me on hole #8. The skies did not clear up or anything like that, but I was able to score my first par of the day. I followed up with two more pars on holes #9 and #10. I was on a roll.
 371-yard par 4 hole #7 (note the poor condition of the fairway)

 169-yard par 3 hole #8 (view from the green back toward the tee box)

278-yard par 4 hole #10
The cart path up to hole #11 took me over a mountain stream that showed one result of the continued rainfall. The cart path continued up a steep hill on top of which I was treated to both a gorgeous view and a daunting challenge. The 190-yard shot from an elevated tee box to a green far below would not be easy under any circumstances. I hit what looked like a good shot before returning back down the path and across the stream to the green. I discovered my ball 3-feet from the hole; I dropped the easy putt for a birdie. Apparently the “golf gods” showed up to give the “rain gods” some company. This sport will turn me into a Buddhist yet!

190-yard par 3 hole #11

It was like a switch had been flipped back on hole #8. I began to play par golf. The only problem I ran into was a single bogey on hole #16, which was offset by a long birdie putt on hole #18. I finished the back nine with a 1-under par score of 35. 
 514-yard par 5 hole #12

 370-yard par 4 hole #14 (view over the fairway bunker to the green)

170-yard par 3 hole #15

 Rain shelter behind the hole #15 tee box - they build them pretty stout in Maine

 The stream running in front of the hole #15 green and hole #16 tee box

381-yard par 4 hole #18 (view from the green back up the fairway)

While I was playing golf Julie drove off in search of moose sightings. Flashing lights and signs are posted on the road in areas where a cow & calf moose are living nearby. One such area was near the resort’s maintenance building. Julie parked near the building with a view of a small marsh land. Her patience was rewarded with a sighting of both the cow and the calf moose. I told her the moose we saw in New Hampshire were much more fashion conscious than what she had observed in in Maine.

Before the day ended, we drove to a hotel in Freeport and dropped into the L.L. Bean stores for some shopping. The L.L. Bean stores never close - just like the rain that never stops!

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