On a recent golf outing, NEGM editor Tim Branco met another foursome on the course and they were raving about a golf vacation they called the best deal in New England. They were especially taken by the food. The deal? The Maine Trifecta.
Three golf courses teamed up for this one, Poland Spring with its hotel, inns and guest houses, Spring Meadows in Gray and Fox Ridge in Auburn. The package includes two nights lodging at Poland Spring, four all you can eat buffet meals, 18 holes with cart at Poland Springs, Fox Ridge and Spring Meadows and a bucket of range balls at each course. The price? $299 per person. The buffet meals not only have variety and quantity, they are also super convenient. You don’t have to wait for service when you have an early tee time and you won’t be hungry before lunchtime. After dinner, Rick’s Pub is only a few convenient steps across the lobby so you can sit back and enjoy some sports on the giant screen TV.
NEGM readers of the April issue will remember that Poland Spring was the first resort golf course in the country, dating back to 1897, and expanded to 18 and redesigned by Donald Ross. Over the years it has played host to presidents and celebrities and for a long period was the layout of choice for many of Maine’s tournaments. In recent years the course has been restored to the original Ross drawings so be on the lookout for some tiny greens, a deceptive false front here and there and holes where yardage is tough to estimate. At 6178 yards it doesn’t appear long and the slope of 124 isn’t punishing but don’t be deceived. Poland Spring offers plenty of difficult challenges as the layout drops away from the clubhouse before returning uphill. Some fairways are generous but some demand a straight drive with thick woods on either side. After a round, relax on the veranda outside Mel’s Hilltop Restaurant and take in views of Mount Washington in the distance, all while watching action on the first tee and the 18th green.
Overall, Poland Spring is a historic golf course with modern care and stellar lodging & dining which make it a perfect place to anchor a golf trip. While Poland Spring provides the history, Spring Meadows and Fox Ridge are among Maine’s best new courses. Spring Meadows in Gray is just a few miles from the Maine Turnpike exit used to reach the Trifecta HQ. Designed by Brad Booth, Maine’s own golf architect, this course was built over a family farm that included woods, hills and wetlands. The barn was been redesigned to house the pro shop, lounge and a banquet center. The wetlands and ponds add to the challenge on a number of holes and the hills provide interesting play on several more.
The back nine is around the wetlands and is mostly flat. Risk reward is demonstrated by15, where a long drive will put a player in position to try to carry two hazards. The third leg of the Trifecta, Fox Ridge is not far from the Auburn exit of the Maine Turnpike, an easy drive from Poland Spring. Once again this is another course laid out over a Maine farm, especially interesting for its routing through open fields of fescue. The front nine makes fairly a compact loop with the first few holes through farmland and then others with woods lining the fairways. The back nine is a trip out and back to the far reaches of the property and the elevations provide some great vistas, especially during foliage season. The 14th green and 15th tee mark the end of the old farm and the last four holes are headed home. After negotiating over or around the water on 18, hit the modern clubhouse and pub.
That’s the Maine Trifecta: one old, two new. Three courses that further south would demand much higher green fees. These meticulously maintained links have teamed up to form “New England’s best deal.” WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?