Golf courses around the state suffering from weather

PORTLAND, Maine (NECN) -- Richard Maines and his buddies are the kind of golfers who can't wait for the season to start.

"The day they open, we're usually out here," said Maines, just before teeing off at Riverside Golf Course.

But this spring, the municipal course opened three weeks later than usual. Other courses, including Val Halla in Cumberland, won't open until May.

"There have been very few courses spared the widespread destruction we've seen this spring," said Randy Hodsdon, Director of Rules and Competition for the Maine State Golf Association.

Fairways and greens are pock marked by big dead patches of turf--the result of spending months under a thick coat of ice.

"The 3 to 4 inches of ice basically encapsulated the turf and suffocated it, said Gene Pierotti, Superintendent at Riverside Golf Course. Crews across the state are working long days, trying to revive their battered courses.

"Last week we sliced and seeded. This week we're dimpling and dropping more seed in, then fertilizing and watering".

In the meantime, Riverside has set up temporary greens on 11 holes to give golfers something to shoot for, while the grass recuperates. But this will take a financial toll.

According to a study done by the University of Maine's School of Economics, the golf industry generates $270 million in revenue each year. Because of the short season in Maine, few courses will be able to recoup the cost of a late start later on.

"The economic impact is far reaching when you factor in the lost income to the clubs and lost wages for everybody involved," said Hodsdon.

When the courses are closed, there's very little traffic at the restaurants or pro shops. So far, the diehards are taking the rough conditions in stride.

"It's better than sitting at home!" said Maines.

Those who prefer a perfectly manicured course may be better off leaving the clubs in the car for a few more weeks. What the greens really need is a good stretch of warm weather.

And so far, Mother Nature is proving to be a very unreliable golfing partner.


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