POLAND SPRING, Maine – How would you like to make one phone call to book two nights at a hotel and rounds at three different golf courses?
Does it sound too simple? It’s not. You can stay at the Poland Spring Resort in Poland Spring, Maine, and play The Links at Poland Spring, Spring Meadows Golf Club in Gray and Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn. It’s called the ‘Maine Trifecta.’
The three courses are located within about 20 minutes of each other. Visit www.polandspringresort.com and click on golf packages or rates for more details, but to book the ‘Maine Trifecta’ you must call the resort at 207-998-4351.
The cost for two people for two nights at the resort, three rounds of golf with carts and a bucket of range balls at each course ranges from $567 weekdays at the Presidential Inn to $663 weekends at the Maine Inn with a mountain view. Two buffet breakfasts and two buffet dinners are not included at this time because of staffing shortages due to the pandemic.
The trifecta took a hit last year because of the pandemic, but the courses expect it to be popular again this year.
Each course provides a different experience. Poland Spring is all about nostalgia and history.
“This started as a stagecoach stop,” owner Cyndi Robbins said. “If you’re looking for glitz, you’re not going to find that here. You’re going to find a relaxing vacation. That’s why at the entrance it says, “Stress Free Zone.”
Since 1794, people have visited the resort because of the believed therapeutic powers of the Poland Spring water. The resort is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
In 1896, Poland Spring opened the first resort golf course in the U.S. Famed architect Donald Ross redesigned the original nine holes and designed another nine from 1912-1915. A Ross expert restored the course about 15 years ago.
The Links at Poland Spring has generous fairways and little trouble in front of the greens so you can run your approach shots up onto them. The course plays to a par 71 from 5,002 yards from the front tees to 6,156 from the back. It’s exactly what resort golf should be – a fun, enjoyable experience. Last year, the club hosted 20,000 rounds.
Robbins started at the resort in May of 1971 as a waitress so this is her 50th year on site. Four years later, fire destroyed the 360-room Poland Spring House. Her late husband, Mel Robbins, bought the resort in 1982.
In addition to golf, the resort offers three grass tennis courts, an Olympic sized swimming pool, mini-golf, disc golf, shuffleboard, boccie, horseshoes, hiking trails and other outdoor activities. Guests can read one of the 10,000 books in the resort’s library while relaxing on an Adirondack chair on the Maine Inn’s front porch which overlooks the golf course.
The Poland Spring Bottling Museum and the Maine State Building, including the Maine Golf Hall of Fame, are located behind the Maine Inn. A Poland Spring bottling plant is also located nearby. The resort is a six-minute drive from the Oxford Casino.
Babe Ruth, Walter Hagen, President Theodore Roosevelt, President William Howard Taft and President Warren Harding all golfed at Poland Spring.
Sonny Liston trained at the resort in 1965 before Muhammad Ali knocked him out in the first round in nearby Lewiston to retain his heavyweight championship.
The four Pollard brothers opened nine holes at Spring Meadows on their former dairy farm in October of 1999 and the course expanded to 18 holes in 2001. A 1922 barn was converted into a clubhouse.
The course plays to a par 71 from 3,617 to 6,660 yards. Forced carries over water and wetlands provide a challenge.
“It’s got some very unique holes,” owner-operator David Pollard said. “It’s got a lot of doglegs, left and right. It’s a thinking person’s course. You just can’t get out the driver and hit away. You’ve got to think about what you want to do. There are some berms and wetland areas.”
When people tell Pollard that they hope to shoot a low score, his response is always the same.
“We don’t sell the score here, we sell the experience,” he said.
Last, Spring Meadows hosted 28,000 rounds, the most since the club opened. Two years ago, rock star Alice Cooper played the course and then left third-row tickets and backstage passes for his concert in nearby Westbrook for head pro Ben Morey.
Last December, Spring Meadows became the first Maine golf course to be named New England Golf Course of the Year by the New England Golf Course Owners Association.
Fox Ridge opened in 2001 and plays to a par of 72 from 2,115 yards to 6,814 over 200 acres of rolling hills, native fescue, babbling brooks, century old stone walls and stone bridges.
“I think it plays tougher than the other two, for sure,” Fox Ridge head golf pro Jerry DiPhilippo said. “We usually get a lot of wind here, so it definitely plays a little tougher.”
To make Fox Ridge more friendly for the higher handicappers, trees have been removed, fescue has been cut back and fairways have been widened.
DiPhilippo said Fox Ridge hosted 23,000 rounds last year, the most in his five years at the club, and is on pace to surpass that this season.
The signature, par-3 fifth hole plays downhill onto a peninsula green surrounded by a pond. The par-5 ninth and par-4 18th also play over water.
Three divers retrieved 16,200 golf balls from the ponds this spring. They said they didn’t get all of them and that they’d probably return in August. The club sells some of the retrieved balls in the pro shop, 12 lower end balls for $10 and Titleist Pro Vs for $2 each, and uses the rest for the driving range.
The day we played, a member of the grounds crew was watering while barefooted. He told us that his bare feet told him if the grass was hot and if it was, it needed water.
The day before we played, Fox Ridge hosted a Maine Amateur qualifier and no one beat par. We didn’t either.