Off The Beaten Path: Samoset Resort On The Ocean

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New England does summer better than southerners. Perhaps it is because folks from the northeast have earned it suffering through so many long winters. Summertime in New England means lobster rolls and cold beer sipped in the sunshine while the world wanders slowly by. Summertime in New England means the Red Sox and afternoons on the water. And for many, those warm months of summer mean golf.

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There is a spot on the central coast of Maine where the confluence of land and sea come together to create a unique hidden gem in the world of golf. Camden/ Rockport, Maine doesn’t sound like a place with a world-class resort and a golf course that dates back to 1902, but it is. Samoset Resort on the Ocean has been a part of New England’s golf and vacation culture for more than a century. The original 9-hole course has been updated over the years. What the curious golfer will find now is a striking 18 holes that sits right on the shores of Penobscot Bay.

It is easy to become distracted with the beauty of the rugged Maine coastline ever present hole by hole. Sailboats slip by and lobstermen motor in with the day’s haul, ready to be served in the clubhouse dining room or in one of the resort’s many restaurants. As you descend down toward the water at the par-4 second with the bay to your left, there is a sense of anticipation as the golf course opens up to you. The par-3 third, now stretching to over 225 yards for those brave enough to challenge the whole course, plays dangerously over a corner of the bay.

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The par-5 fourth nearly completes the experience. It’s a dogleg left above the rocky coastline that extends down to the very edge of the peninsula. A long jetty pokes out from behind the green and several hundred yards into the water, where people walk and gather to watch the boats go by.

It would be easy to assume that the golf course had unveiled itself and all its spectacular vistas at this point. But there is so much more to come. Every hole offers a different view of the landscape and seascape for which Maine is famous.

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The last time I played Samoset was a serendipitous occasion indeed, as the annual Tall Ship Regatta was taking place on Penobscot Bay. I would love to tell you that I planned it that way but it was no better than chance and good fortune. Sloops and Schooners with all flags flying made concentrating on golf that day a virtual impossibility. There may very well be a better perspective to see such an event like that, but I can’t imagine what it is.

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It could be argued whether the golf or the late lunch on the veranda was the day’s highlight. Lobster rolls and cold beer on a sunny afternoon following a round of golf fall into a category reserved for the best times in life in my book.

If you happen to find yourself on the coast of Maine in the months when the days are long and the sun is expected, I highly recommend this little gem by the sea. There are far more famous venues up and down the coast of New England and they have earned their reputations accordingly. But Samoset is a distinct and unique golf experience a little off the beaten path but well worth the journey.

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