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  • Writer's pictureBob

Local Track, Hidden Gem

Two for one

The Maine destination turned out to be very efficient when it came to making my way through the list of historic golf courses.  The most efficient trip I have had so far was when my Son and I took on St. Louis.  We played Forest Park, Highlands, and Normandie in a weekend.  Maine offered two course, Kebo Valley Golf Course and Grindstone Neck Golf Course, but they were not grouped tightly together like in St. Louis. 

There was about a 90 minute drive between the courses so I decided to not play them together in one day.  Plus, if you read the Kebo post you already know Laura and I had to block out enough time every day to eat lobster.

The Drive

Maine is so Maine, and if you know, you know, and if you don’t know you have to go to Maine.  If you have seen pictures, videos, and dare I say postcards of Maine you have seen Maine. 

Our drive to Winter Harbor-the home of Grindstone Golf Neck Course-was a non-stop tourism highlight reel.  Every coastal view, and there are a bunch, was postcard worthy, that is if you like bridges with valley views, got-’em, charming towns, check.  If you’re looking to escape the energy of Bar Harbor, a very popular destination, you might want to take the scenic drive to Winter Harbor.  Upon our approach to Grindstone Neck we nearly zipped right by it.. 

The road we were driving on was split by two open fields, on one side the fields rolled all the way to the harbor, and the field on other side rolled all the way up to a tense woods.  We kept driving until we saw a rustic patch of loose sand and rocks that was framed by a makeshift split rail fence, which was giving off horse corral vibes.  Once settled into our gravel parking space we looked out and could see the makings of what looked like the first tee, and a tiny club house.

Local Track

I was struck by how empty and quiet the surrounding area was. Our car was the only car in the lot, and from what I could tell nobody was milling around the putting green or first tee. 

To the right of the first tee, across the road was what I assumed was the ninth hole, and it too was empty. I was getting a very local course/hidden gem feel. It was quiet, and looking around there was just Laura, an outstanding view of a harbor, and me.  Not a bad start to the round. Just before I was about leave the car and head to the club house to check myself in I heard a slight squeaking sound coming from behind a large fence covered by hedges, it could have been up the road a bit.  The sound was getting closer so I stopped what I was doing and waited to see what was coming my way.  A man seemed to come out of nowhere from behind those hedges and was walking past me on the road.  His eyes never diverted from his gaze, his head was locked onto a destination I said hi, and it appeared he had no time for any pleasantries.  He had his clubs secured onto a squeaky push cart, his golf glove was already fitted tightly to his leading hand, and he even had his golf shoes on.  I assumed he walked from his house and he was headed to the club house to check in. Nope.  He took a straight line from the road to the first tee, ignoring any suggested pathways to the club house or tee box.  With out breaking stride, or at least that’s what it looked like, he pulled a ball from his pocket, teed it up, got into his stands, and hit a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway.  Almost before the ball landed he had replaced his driver into his bag and he was walking toward his ball.  As I turned to pick up my bag a couple of things came to mind, we are definitely at the local track, this was not the first time he’s played here, and the pace of play will not be an issue today.

The Round

After a few moments of processing one of those-you don’t see that everyday-moments it was time to get this round started.   I made my way to the club house the more conventional way, following a path from the parking lot that lead me to a tiny starter shack size of a club house.  Once I got closer to the club house the course was starting to take shape.  The first tee was playing straight up a slight hill, it looked like a nice stress free tee shot.

It was a perfect day for golf and Grindstone Neck was ready to receive me.  Standing on the first tee looking out at a wide open fairway, there was some very light rough on either side of the fairway, so basically I was trying to hit my drive into an ocean of green. I did get a good drive off, which was nice, and as we made our way up to the ball you could see more holes and fairways to our right and they all seemed to harbor views. I crested the hill and found the ball sitting nicely in the fairway.

I was met with two great sights; a great view of the harbor, and the green, which was about 145 yards in front of me. I missed the green by about 5 feet on my approach shot, knocked a little bump and run to about 7 feet from the hole, and managed to lip in a knee knocker for par. We were on our way.

Throughout the round there was this overall feeling we were playing on the original track from 1891.  I know there had to be renovations over the years, but it looked like they really tried to stick to the original aesthetic. The fairways were worn, but not damaged, it was like walking on a well preserved  carpeted room from a home in the 1800’s, you could see glimpses of how nice the fairways might have been back in the day, there were wore pathways in the high traffic areas, but it was still amazing how well preserved the course is today.

The only real challenge of day was not falling into the Frenchman Bay when teeing off at the 3rd and 4th holes. It was a little nerve racking lining up my shot, but with views like these it was a risk worth taking. 

Grindstone Neck is a nine hole track , and for the entire round I didn’t see a single other golfer, not even the speedy walking guy, no surprise there.  He was probably at home napping before I putted out on the ninth.  I know I could have teed it right back up at the first tee and again after I finished 18 holes. 

Instead I took a moment on the ninth green to let the round soak in. While I was looking out into Frenchman Bay I watch a boat head out to sea, it was a very relaxing day, exactly why I come out and play this crazy game. The sun was setting, the water was calm, and it was close to dinner time, and you know what that meant…lobster!

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