Courses and Crustaceans

Golf and lobster go hand in hand in Southern Maine.

BY KATHARINE DYSON

A good sign that winter in Maine is finally winding down is the reopening of the lobster shacks and golf courses. And just as “Mainers” speak in a variety of dialects—hey, all Mainers do not drop their r’s and settle for “ah” as in “Lobstah” and “chowdah”—so goes the terrain, with a diverse landscape of hilly interiors along a rugged coastline. What could be a better canvas for golf courses ranging from classic to modern design?

You can play Maine’s best tracks and dig into some tasty lobster by circling from South Berwick to Bethel, Boothbay and back down the coast through Scarborough.

The Links at Outlook Golf Course in South Berwick, designed by Brian Silva in 2000, features an open, rolling front nine and a hilly back side, with views of Mt. Agamenticus.

Wake to a delicious breakfast at the Victorian-style Academy Street Inn in South Berwick with its wraparound porch, oak moldings and private baths, or stay in the Riverhouse on Vine Street overlooking the Salmon Falls River.

The nearby Thistle Pig restaurant uses mostly local ingredients from owner Benjamin Hasty’s family farm. Their crunchy Brussels sprouts with sesame, chili and ginger are a favorite. “We go through three cases of sprouts a week,” Hasty says.

At Aggie’s Ice Cream, you can choose from more than 100 flavors, or you could succumb to a Moose Tracks cone (vanilla ice cream with a fudge swirl and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups).

Move on to the Bethel area and play historic Province Lake Golf Club in Parsonsfield, with a front nine dating to 1918. Silva carved out the more difficult back nine that snakes up and down hills, through woods and over water.

After golf, grab lunch at Mulligans WoodFire Grill, and then continue on to Sunday River Resort, a four-season property in Newry, with a sweeping Robert Trent Jones Jr. track built on the side of a mountain. The course cuts through forests and overlooks the Sunday River Valley and Mahoosuc Range.

Stay in the Jordan Grand, where you can unwind with a massage at the spa, or check into the recently renovated Bethel Inn, located near the town’s Historic District. Tee up on a classic tree-lined rolling track with lovely mountain views and well-bunkered greens. Cap off your day with dinner in the Millbrook Tavern & Grille.

When you stand on the putting green of Belgrade Lakes Golf Club, the highest spot on the property’s 240 acres, and take in the dazzling lake and mountain views, you’ll agree that architect Clive Clark created a sensational setting. Bring your camera!

The course is immaculate and the views are spectacular. Playing 6,723 to 5,168 yards with a forgiving nature, Belgrade Lakes is a great course for golfers of all levels.

Dine on the deck overlooking the 9th and 18th holes, where the views are a perfect 10, and then check into The Village Inn & Garden Tavern, which opened in 1921. Though the tavern is located at the edge of a freshwater lake, it is still a good place to order a lobster dinner.

On the way to Scarborough, play the Boothbay Harbor Country Club. Much has happened here in the two years since new owner Paul Coulombe launched a makeover of the club. He spared no expense, upgrading everything from the clubhouse to the course and driving range.

It’s all about lobster at The Lobster Shack at Two Lights at Cape Elizabeth. Perched on craggy rocks overlooking the rocky coastline, Cape Elizabeth Light, Maine’s most photographed lighthouse, has stood since 1828, while the restaurant has been operating since the 1920s.

Prout’s Neck Country Club is private, but stay at the silver-shingled Black Point Inn in Scarborough and you get to play this lovely, old seaside track designed by Wayne Stiles in 1907. It’s only 6,029 yards, but it’s a gem, with many holes featuring views of the sea.

The inn is surrounded by water and beaches on three sides, while The Chart Room restaurant overlooks Sand Dollar Beach. Take the Cliff Walk to artist Winslow Homer’s former studio.

Donald Ross fans can play the Biddeford-Saco Country Club, host to the Maine Amateur Championship. Flowing comfortably over an undulating landscape punctuated by lakes and a meandering stream, multi-tiered slick-running greens make up for its relatively short yardage of 6,333 yards. The clubhouse is situated in the original farmhouse that was located on the property.

The Lobster Dock, a no-frills restaurant with a large deck on the harbor, is a great spot to dine after golf. Owners Mitch and Dawn Weiss stuff their butter-grilled rolls with plenty of lobster. “When you eat a lobster roll, you want to taste the lobster,” Mitch says.

You could also try the seafood Fra Diavolo, which combines lobster, scallops, shrimp and mussels over linguini.

The Pine Tree Seafood and Produce Market in Scarborough is famous for its lobster rolls and chowder. It’s small, so expect to eat outside at a picnic table or do take-out.

And for dessert? Hurry to Len Libby’s on Route 1 in Scarborough, which has been the place to go for chocolates and candy since 1896. It’s worth the trek just to get a peek at a life-size, 1,700-pound chocolate moose.

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