March 28, 2013

GOLF: Natanis set to open 12 holes Saturday

By Gary Hawkins
Staff Writer

Golfers itching to get outside and play can satisfy that need this weekend at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.

The 36-hole course is historically one of the first to open in central Maine and clubhouse manager Rob Browne expects 12 holes to be open Saturday.

"It looks good so far," Browne said. "If we hadn't had that last snow, we'd have been open last weekend."

Browne said the front nine holes on the Arrowhead Course will be open along with the 10th, 11th and 18th on the back nine. Tees and greens on all those holes are clear with the exception of a little snow Thursday on the side of two greens. The course, in general, came through the winter in good shape.

"There's no real frost at all," Browne said. "You want it to be firm underfoot and make sure the greens are in good shape. It doesn't make any sense to be first if you're causing damage."

Last year, Natanis opened on March 17 and three years ago had it earliest ever permanent opening on March 6.

Carts won't be allowed on the course while it's still wet. Walking fees are $20 for 12 holes, although golfers will be allowed to play additional holes if no one is waiting on the first tee.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we had 18 holes open next weekend," Browne said.

Brown said a few more trees have been removed over the winter to air and sunlight to shaded holes. A couple of forward tees on the second and seventh holes on Arrowhead have been added to make those holes easier for seniors.

There will be a $1 increase in greens fees once the entire course is open. The 18-hole fee on the Arrowhead Course will be $37 while the fee on the Tomahawk Course will be $47.

"It's the first increase in eight years," Browne said.

Memberships will increase by $10, making the cost of a single membership $1,025 and a senior membership $995.

* * *

The driving range at T's Golf in Manchester opened March 15, closed for a snowstorm on March 18 and opened two days later. It's currently open from noon to 5 p.m.

"It's mostly clear," owner Judy Torrington said. "We were opened when it was all snow covered. Right now it's open noon to 5 because it's still so cold in the morning and we have to pick up balls by hand when it's still light outside."

Mini golf and the short course areas at T's are not yet open but lessons are available. Torrington said business was good on Thursday afternoon.

"I'm expecting we'll have a pretty good weekend," she said.

Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638

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