Cape Arundel Golf Club pg ii
Maine, United States of America

Tenth hole, 335 yards; Few holes better demonstrate how a sub-350 yarder can infuriate even the most polished player. Fescue covered mounds right off the tee and the unfelt breeze that flows straight up the river off the Atlantic add to the challenge of one of the game’s great putting surfaces. This open hole also epitomizes the more links like feel that has been promoted over the past twenty years. Trees are down, fescue grasses up, and so too is the effect of the wind as it whistles uninterrupted across much of the property. Borrowing again from Our Little Golf Club in Maine, Cape Arundel, Travis once sent a letter to the club that states: ‘While the course plays on the ‘short side’ – and rightly so, seeing that it is a ‘resort’ course, principally – yet it will strongly appeal to every class of golfer, from the ‘crack’ to the ‘dub.’ It looks easy, as my courses do, but the man who equals par will have played some ‘golf.’ The real difficulties in the scientific placements of hazards, all arranged not for the ‘dub,’ but for the fairly good shots of the player which are not quite good enough. Yet, no single hazard borders on unfairness.’ The message in that quote resonates here as copious amounts of short grass are provided left for the ‘dub’ while the ‘crack’ player seeking the short way home must contend with fescue covered mounds down the right.

The tenth bends around a series of mounds with its flag visible well to the right over the fescue covered mound.

The textures and hues across the course readily appeal. At 4700 square feet, the green is the smallest target on the course and its undulating surface wreaks havoc.

Travis thought that the game began and finished on the green and that is made evident by this roly-poly putting surface. Seen above is its diabolical back left hole location on what is optimistically deemed a shelf.

As seen from back right, Green Keeper Parkhurst can turn a drive and pitch hole into a survival of the fittest based on his choice of hole locations.

Eleventh hole, 340 yards; The author wishes he knew more about the 1896 course which apparently used this playing corridor at a time when there weren’t many interesting diagonal tee shots. Regardless, like the ninth, Travis’s enhancements are what make the approach so interesting. Travis once wrote, ‘Out of the eighteen greens, I would suggest three fairly flat, two or three gently sloping, one or two on the punch-bowl order, two or three of the plateau type, and the rest more or less undulating.’ This marvelous green complex is of the punch-bowl type.

A gorgeous diagonal tee shot over a finger of the river must be executed to gain maximum advantage.

The heaving nature of the green can be detected from the fairway.

As seen from behind, the old school nature of Travis’s bunkers and mounds time-stamp the course as Golden Age.

Thirteenth hole, 165 yards; Why this is a favorite of 41 and Raynor is glaringly obvious from the tee where the hole enjoys a wonderfully natural setting at a fork in the river. While the property might be mostly flat, the first time golfer won’t readily think so driving away. He is far more apt to recall the exciting moments created by playing along and over river banks. Travis routed the eighteen holes so darn well and took maximum advantage of everything that nature provided.

Mounds right, a false front, water left and wind define the challenge at the one shot 13th. This is one of the windiest spots on the course so seeing the red flag at attention is no surprise.

Fourteenth hole, 385 yards; Raynor makes the interesting observation that much of the trouble at Cape Arundel is found on the left side of holes. In fact, he notes that an expression ‘Cape Arundel Block’ exists because golfers hang on a bit at the bottom of the swing to prevent a shot from going left. This hole is a case in point. The seventeenth fairway isn’t too far way on the right but on the left side of the fairway trees overhang an offshoot of the river. Another brilliant ‘open in front’ green awaits.

Over its 120 + year history, today’s first, tenth and fourteenth have at one time been the opening hole. Given the uncompromising nature of the forced carry here, this is the author’s least favorite ” opener.” It plays much better as a swing hole in the middle of a tight match on the back nine.

Seventeenth hole, 360 yards; People who think blind holes don’t require good golf or aren’t strategic need to play this one. Both the tee and fairway are in a field making the drive open and inviting. The fairway is bunkerless – until sixty yards short of the green, where the hole’s sole hazard is nestled at the break of a hill. Twenty feet below lies the green and the flag is likely invisible for one’s approach. Like to so many holes at Cape Arundel, it is the land fronting the green that defines the golf. In this case, Raynor makes it clear that only approach shots played from the center of the fairway enjoy a straight, generally predictable kick forward. Played from the rough on either side, the approach will hit near the green at an angle and bounce awkwardly.

My goodness – the green literally cascades down the natural grade. The glorious panorama of the 18th fairway unfolds beyond.

As seen from behind, the fairway feeds directly onto the putting surface and is the golfer’s friend only if he drives it straight. The drop from the front of the putting surface to the back is nearly four feet!

Eighteenth hole, 395 yards; A terrific finish, this uphiller plays the longest of the two shotters. The Kennebunk River is crossed for the fourth and final time off the tee. Ahead, the golfer takes aim at the tree-framed green but only after he has made sure that no one is on the entrance drive eighty yards shy of the putting surface.

When the tide rushes out, a series of rapids appear near the Home tee.

A fitting conclusion to a grand round.

The author frequently worries about the American game that takes too long, costs too much, and often is too little fun. Such worries melt away when one drives up Cape Arundel’s winding entrance. Perhaps the club’s close proximity to the United Kingdom and Ireland helps explain why so many common sense elements there are so pervasive here. Clubs in the lower states could learn volumes if they sent representatives to tour such charm-laden designs like Prouts Neck, Kebo Valley and here.

According to Michael Moore, Secretary of the Maine State Golf Association, ‘As a founding member of the MSGA, as the home club of George Herbert Walker and his descendants, and as an architectural time capsule showing the genius of Walter Travis, Cape Arundel is vital to Maine golf. The simple clubhouse, the battered locker room, and the modesty seen in the parking lot all show that Cape Arundel is almost entirely about golf, friendships, and the humility that is required for each.’

The entrance weaves through the course and Travis’s mounds. As soon as you turn onto it, you know your day is about to improve.

Thankfully, this sub-6000 yard course will never harbor aspirations of hosting a professional event or anything else that might suggest an alteration to the course. It is perfect ‘as-is.’ Define what is truly important about this game and see if you don’t agree.

The End

The author wishes to thank Michael Moore for some of his photographs in this course profile.