POLAND SPRING, Maine – Stay-and-play in Northern New England usually means staying at resort with a golf course and playing that course for the duration of the stay. One golf package in Maine affectionally called the ‘Maine Trifecta‘ is decidedly different and it’s priced right.
Maine is well known as vacationland and golf courses want to take advantage of all that summer traffic. Independent courses often seek out lodging establishments nearby to partner with but these programs are limited and seldom offer more than one course.
The Maine Trifecta came about when one independent course owner approached a well known lodging establishment that had its own golf course. Dave Pollard, owner of Spring Meadows in Gray asked Poland Spring owner, Cyndi Robbins about getting together to offer lodging and golf at both courses. Through the discussions it was agreed that it would be even better to have three courses and Fox Ridge in Auburn was brought in.
For such a program to work, the lodging and all three layouts had to be within an easy drive. Recently a golfer from Worcester, Mass tried the deal. He couldn’t believe that it was interstate highway all the way. He started his golf at Spring Meadows, just five minutes off the Maine Turnpike in Gray. Teeing off around noon he was finished in plenty of time to make the 20 minute drive to check in at Poland Spring before dinner.
The next morning the golf was at Poland Spring. After another night in the hotel another 20 minute drive brings the golfers to Fox Ridge in Auburn, a layout a few minutes from another Maine Turnpike exit for the return trip.
If this isn’t the perfect 3-day, 2-night golf trip, all for under $350 then what is?
This is the Trifecta, a golf, lodging and meals package that is tough to beat. The lodging and meals are at Poland Spring, the resort built around the believed curative powers of water from the famous spring. Dating back to the 19th century golf arrived in 1896 making it the first resort golf course in the United States. The course was redesigned and expanded to 18 holes between 1912 and 1914 by Donald Ross and is a classic layout playing down to the lake and back up to the hotel. On a clear day golfers enjoying a libation on the second floor deck at Mel’s Hilltop Restaurant and 19th Hole Lounge can view Mount Washington in New Hampshire.
Spring Meadows and Fox Ridge are in sharp contrast to the historic Ross layout, both modern construction coming on line a couple of decades ago. Both were built on farmland with Spring Meadows about 80 percent flat routed around several wetlands and ponds. Hole Nos. 5, 6 and 7 give golfers a taste of up and down while one and ten drop from the clubhouse and nine and eighteen climb back. The clubhouse converted from a barn that was part of the original dairy farm overlooks a large part of the layout with only a few holes hidden by trees.
Fox Ridge is an expansive track with holes laid out over rolling farmland and forested tracts. The front nine is fairly compact with no. 5 about as close to an island green as you can get without taking a boat. The peninsula juts into a pond so short, long, or left will be wet. Play form the tips is 202 yards, 169 from the whites and 90 from the yellows. And that’s not the only water. Nine comes in across a lake which also guards the 18th. The back nine stretches the length of the property going out and back through fields and wooded areas. No. 11 measures 597 yards from the tips is the longest par 5 with the uphill approach making it okay even longer, while No. 13 is a mere 126 yards from the tips but a two club drop makes it easy to hit that wedge long. Elevation changes are many at Fox Ridge adding to the challenge. The good news is that a bank rises to the club house behind both No. 9 and 18, allowing golfers to go a bit long rather than risk coming up short and wet to finish the round. Then it’s time to enjoy a libation on the deck watching incoming players go long or dunk.
Before the pandemic shut down food service at Poland Spring Resort the Trifecta offered two nights lodging, two buffet dinners, two buffet breakfasts and a round of golf with cart and range balls at each of the three courses for $319 per person. And no one leaves the Poland Spring dining room hungry.
In southern New England and other parts of the country golfers can pay that much for three rounds of golf at comparable golf courses.
The Maine Trifecta is one-of-a-kind, featuring good golf, outstanding hospitality and it is one of the best stay-and-play packages anywhere. Summer is here so now is the time to book that trip you’ve been thinking about!
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