Endless golf. Friendly wagering. Cigars. Adult beverages. More than a little trash-talking. It’s a three-day pass to fun. For golf fanatics, there’s nothing quite like the golf buddy trip. The focus is on birdies, bogeys and bonding.BY LOU SULLIVAN
Golf buddy trips are big business, and resorts around the world burn up marketing dollars in hopes of attracting groups to their locale. To be successful, a golf buddy trip should include reasonably priced, conveniently located lodging, a variety of dining and drinking options, and most important, great golf courses situated fairly close together.
The Point Sebago Resort in Casco, Maine, is home to all three. Check into a vacation property bordering the golf course and you’re ready to roll. With approximately 900 square feet of living space, these two-bedroom, two-bath homes include a fully equipped kitchen, televisions and an outdoor deck for ruminating over the day’s round of golf. They provide the ideal base for exploring the region. Best of all, peak season rates come in at approximately $300 per night. Even better, rates drop in the fall, when the foliage arrives and the golf becomes even more spectacular.
The 775-acre resort on the shores of Sebago Lake features one of the state’s finest championship layouts. Situated alongside the lake and winding through a white birch forest, this par-72 course maxes out at more than 7,000 yards from the tips, yet includes tee boxes that allow you to play at less than 5,000.
The course features a variety of demanding holes and requires numerous strategic decisions, beginning at the opening hole, a majestic, slight dogleg left par-5 with a split fairway and a bunker framing the entire left side.
Water comes into play on seven holes, including the long par-5 seventh, the No. 1 handicap hole. Wetlands and a pond to the left, and out-of-bounds to the right make for an extremely tight landing area for your second shot. The green is surrounded by bunkers, while a pond lurks left and short.
There are numerous courses within a one-hour drive of the resort. Perhaps the most famous is semi-private Cape Arundel in Kennebunkport, a par-69 where you can attempt to challenge the course record of 60 set by Phil Mickelson in 2006. He is not the only icon to have walked the fairways. Four presidents have teed up here (Nixon, Clinton and both Bushes), along with such sports legends as Francis Ouimet, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Babe Ruth and Roger Clemens.
The links-style course is set alongside the Kennebunk River and is known for its beautiful setting, postage-stamp greens, rolling terrain and tidal creeks.
Venture further along the coast and you’ll come upon Cape Reddick Country Club, originally designed by Donald Ross in 1919. With its location near bustling Ogunquit, you can tackle a historic, championship layout and then head into one of Maine’s most popular seaside towns for a lobster dinner.
Brian Silva redesigned the course in 1990, replacing a portion of the original course with nine new holes. But he carefully and lovingly preserved Ross’s vision by making use of the natural contours. The experience is enhanced by the absence of residential development along the course.
A final stop on the buddy tour could be Sables Oaks Golf Club in South Portland. Although located just minutes from Portland International Airport and the Maine Turnpike, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a world of luxury at a course that has a private-club atmosphere.
Surrounded by woods and ponds, Sable Oaks plays nearly 6,400 yards at a par-70 and has been called one of the most imaginative courses in Maine.
There are dozens of other top-notch golf courses within easy driving distance, making 36 holes per day a reasonable proposition for true aficionados, all without busting your wallet. Just remember to bring those victory cigars.