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What to do about competitive play is the biggest worry for Maine golf courses

Golf courses sporting a new look to adhere to coronavirus safety restrictions raises questions for tournament play.

BANGOR, Maine — Under Gov. Janet Mills' plan to reopen Maine amid the coronavirus pandemic, golf courses were able to open for business on May 1, under restrictions.

But as players from around the state rejoiced, they found that the game they love to play looked a little bit different. Across the state, pro shops are closed as tee times are made online or over the phone.

"It's really been great," Rob Jarvis the Head Professional at Bangor Municipal Golf Course said. "The players have been super accommodating."

Groups are spaced out in larger intervals than last season to enforce proper social distancing guidelines. The biggest change is how the holes look. 

Cups are fitted with Styrofoam or plastic to minimize players touching the cup or the pin when grabbing their ball from the hole. But the new cups are causing a lot of problems as balls are going in the hole, then popping back out.

Credit: NCM

Jarvis said the course is holding amateur tournaments starting in June and the current state of the holes is a big issue.

He said he hopes to go back to the "normal" cups by June 1. 

"That might be something we're able to eliminate because that makes life a lot easier. If not, we're definitely going to have, going to have some concessions," Jarvis said.

The concessions he mentioned means giving an opposing player a putt if it is close enough to the hole and the player doesn't need to tap it in. Regular players consider this a "gimme."

The issue is—in competitive stroke play, all balls must go in and stay in the hole. In match play, putts are allowed to be conceded. 

Credit: NCM

Luckily for Maine golf courses, the opening of courses in Massachusetts and New Hampshire this month could eliminate the risk of out of staters coming to Maine to play.

"I think you could have started to see some problems. because they really, really wanted to play down there," Jarvis said.

Jarvis said many players from New York visit Bangor Muni as it is on the way to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. 

"I guess if Bar Harbor doesn't fully open then I guess that would squash that and control it for us."

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