Play golf in New England's Fall
BELGRADE LAKES, Maine - New Englanders consider Fall their birthright, the best time of year.
On about this time of year, especially up here, summer is a distant memory (it probably only lasted two months or so anyway). The days grow increasingly short, and there is a bite to the air, a suggestion of something not that far off, maybe only a week or two away: the first frost. From there, well, it’s a ski ramp down into winter.
But that’s in a little bit. Now there’s only the crispness leading the way. Oh, did I mention the leaves? Yellows, crimsons, scarlets - whole forests that look like canvases sponge-painted bright by Bob Ross.
It was Steinbeck who said that the beauty of the Fall in New England is so all encompassing, so vast , that you simply cannot remember one fall from the next - so that each year it comes rather as a surprise.
Sorry for all this drip. But I’m a New Englander, and I’ve been away from this for too long.
It’s in this spirit that I began today a little tour through some favorite old New England haunts, and I aim to play golf along the way. I’m making my way south, slowly, and my goal is to play at least a round or two, hopefully more, in every state I pass through.
Things got off to a good start today, in the western lake region of Maine, 15 miles out of the state capital, Augusta. Belgrade Lakes Golf Club runs improbably along a spit of land between the lake they like to call Great Pond and a long inlet. It’s a beautiful piece of land, and the golf course itself throws a lot of different terrain at you, everything from long, flat fairways to ridgelines that can either elevate a green or a tee.
It’s a player-friendly track, but no push-over. There’s plenty of holes you can score on - and when you don’t, you’re left scratching your head and wondering “What happened?” (Answer = the greens).
The folks here take pride in the conditioning of the course. Greens run firm and true, the fairways are well cropped, and the rough is deeper than you’ll find on a lot of public courses.
But the best part is that this place is all about golf. There’s no clubhouse, no 19th hole, no driving range, barely a parking lot. It’s just 18. Holes. Of. Golf. Period.
I’m off for the Carrabassett Valley tomorrow for two rounds at Sugarloaf - one of Golf Digest’s 100 best public courses in the country.
And if you live in New England, I’ll keep an eye out for you on the road.
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