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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Take Me Home to Sebasco Harbor Resort

Sebasco Harbor Resort Hole #2
Sebasco Harbor Resort Hole #2
I spend a lot of time in fabulously fancy resorts and play many famous, perfectly-manicured golf courses, but I can't remember having a better time than my wife and I did recently at relaxed, comfortable Sebasco Harbor Resort in Maine.  It's got all the amenities you could want including one you can't find everywhere regardless of the price you pay--the feeling that you've come home.

That sense of belonging exists in spades at the spunky nine hole golf course, which I played four times during our five-day stay despite having promised my wife I wasn't even going to bring my clubs on this trip.  It was just too much fun to pass up!  The fourth round was actually a scramble tournament played with both locals and resort guests (including men, women, and kids) that was pure enjoyment.  I had to leave before the final scores were posted to make it to dinner with my long-suffering wife, but stopped by the clubhouse to check the results afterward. It was closed, but head pro Bruce Olson happened to be walking off the course after playing a quick twilight nine, recognized me, and congratulated me on our team's win! The feeling couldn't have been warmer at my home club.

The Sebasco Harbor track is challenging, especially for a resort course. It has a couple of quirky holes to make it interesting and enough length in several places to put your full game to the test.  Tees range from 4,728 to 6,092 yards (for a double circuit to make 18 with a par of 72) and a rating/slope of 70.6/123 from the tips. The layout lies in the hills above the harbor and winds through trees, not home sites, so you can relax and enjoy your game without worrying about driving into somebody's patio.

The signature hole is the 145-yard second hole, a par three that plays over water to a severely-sloped two-tier green.  I barely missed a hole-in-one the first time I played it, then four-putted the next day.  The third hole is one of the most challenging short par fives you'll find anywhere.  It's only 471 yards, but the tee shot is a forced carry to a sharp dogleg left that forces you to leave the driver and maybe even your three wood in the bag.  The green is still reachable in two, but only if your standard 230-yard fairway shot can thread a tree-lined fairway that's less than 20 yards wide in spots.

Three short par fours (the fourth, fifth, and eighth) are offset by the brutal 400-yard uphill dogleg seventh hole, which requires a perfectly-placed drive and a well-aimed mid iron to reach the green in regulation.  The nine ends with a fun birdie opportunity, the 501-yard ninth which has a generous fairway and a dogleg that's navigable by most players. My scramble partners and I put an eagle on our card--probably the winning one-stroke margin.

One of the great bonus golf features of Sebasco Harbor is the Lake Course, a three-hole track made up of holes that were at one time part of the main course until it was rebuilt by new owners in 2001.  The 176-, 204-, and 280-yard holes are perfect for kids, non-golfers, and players of all ages who want to squeeze in a few more holes.  The cost? A whopping $12 to play as much as you like.  The regular course, by the way, is only $45 for 18 holes.

As much fun as I had on the golf course, I still managed to tear myself away from it long enough to do some biking, hiking, and sea kayaking with my wife, visit a couple of nearby towns to do some shopping, site-seeing, and have lunch with some old friends, and enjoyed several lobster dinners at the best dining spot in Maine, Anna's Water's Edge Restaurant, where there were far more locals than tourists every time we were there. The resort also offers excellent dining options plus an addictive ice-cream and coffee stand.  There's a spa as well, plus every conceivable outdoor activity you could want (most of them free!), not to mention an indoor recreation center with vintage candlepin bowling and dozens of other options for rainy days.

The best amenity of all, though, was the people. Staff members were friendly without being cloying and couldn't have been more helpful.  From the time we arrived, they made us feel totally at home.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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