The Mountain Ear – September 21, 2000

Playing a round at Frye Island Golf Club
Uncovering a hidden gem of a course on Lake Sebago

By Joe Rivers

DOWN EAST ISLAND GOLF was on our golfing agenda for Sept. 13, and what a downright and unanticipated delight was afforded us.  Golf at Frye Island – a hidden gem!

Frye Island Golf Club is located on a 1000-acre, densely wooded island on Lake Sebago, the second largest lake in Maine.  According to a local stalwart I met, it is surrounded by “by golly, the best boatin’ and fishin’ areas in all Nawinglin’.”

This island course was the design of famous Scottish architect Geoffrey Cornish in 1970 as an 180hole layout, with nine holes opened on Memorial Day in 1972.  Nine holes still remain to be developed.

The Town of Frye Island became the newest town in Maine in 1998, seceding from the town of Standish.  There are approximately 380 families that live on the island from April to November, when the island is closed for the winter season.  According to the town report, “the entire summer/fall population is engaged in two major activities – relaxing and having fun.”  The island boasts 17 miles of lightly traveled woodland roads, ideal for jogging, bicycling or leisurely walking.

We had a chance to talk to Town Manager Rich Roedner, who made a special trip to meet with our group.  He was appointed to the position in July of 2000.  He remarked that “this is a great area for families – the course is a positive, and the people who work here do a great job.”

After departing from North Conway at 8 a.m., our golfing entourage arrived at the course at 9:45 a.m., after a 10-minute car-ferry ride.  The ferry ride was compliments of the officials of the Town of Frye Island, and was captained by the friendly Jimmy Wolf.  After a mile drive we were greeted at the

According to a local stalwart I met, [Frye Island Golf Club] is surrounded
by “by golly, the best boatin’ and fishin’ areas in all Nawinglin’.”

charming clubhouse by the hospitable, and “jack-ie-of-all-trades,”  Evelyn Nute, a mainlander, who capably got our group ready for play.

            The course is of championship caliber, nicely groomed, with “colossal” greens.  It features a double-green that entertains approach shots on the second and sixth hole – check the right flag to aim at!  Without exaggerating, this double green is a half-acre in magnitude.

            The course plays from three sets of tees, and at 18 holes you can play at 6275 yards – certainly no short “executive course.”  The gold and silver tees are mixed throughout, playing each set gives you a different perspective each nine holes – the front tees play at 5300 yards.  The fairways are narrow, with beautiful, but uninviting wooded areas coming into play.

            The five par fours and two par fives are organized in a dogleg fashion, tightly guarded by woods, and local knowledge is an advantage.  The experience of the first nine gave us some “local enlightenment.”  The seventh hole is a 520-yaard par 5, and is an excellent three-dogleg arrangement.  Not only are the placement of your first two shots important, your third shot is confronted by a courtly, tall fir tree that hovers 100 yards from the left side entrance to the green – a memorable par 5.

The course is of championship caliber, nicely groomed, with “colossal” greens.

The fourth and eighth par 3’s measure 160 and 170 yards, and demand correctness – take an extra length club.  The eighth is the club’s signature hole, and rightfully so.  It might be one of the prettiest par 3’s you have ever witnessed.  From an elevated tee you need to clear the pond, a cottontail and wildflower arrangement in a turtle development, to an elevated green bordered by two not-so-friendly bunkers on the left side.

            The sixth hole is the shortest of the par 4’s at 293 yards.  Sounds easy?  However, you need to stay clear of three ponds, and hit over a stream to a well sloped downhill green in two, and a two putt to pencil in a par on your scorecard.

            Where it is sometimes difficult to remember holes that you play for the first time, Frye Island holes have such individual character that you will retain a memory of each one.

Is the price tag right?  You betcha!  The car ferry costs $16, and may be the only inflationary item on your agenda.  Eighteen hole green fees are $17 for weekdays; $25 on weekends, and $25 cart fees.  Get together with a group of give your “best” a treat, and spend the day at accommodating Frye Island.

            From North Conway take Route 302 straight through Naples and Casco, Maine, approximately 40 miles.  Go eight miles past Point Sebago Resort sign to Raymond.  At the Cry of the Loon Gift Shop (on both sides of Route 302), take a right on Raymond Cape Road to reach the ferry dock.  The ferry leaves every half-hour on the hour.

            No need to call for tee times during the week, but give a warning at (207) 655-4551, and ask for Patti Graham, the amicable pro shop manager.  Tell her JR sentcha.

 Chip Shots

            … The great day at Frye Island Golf Club was enjoyed by Bob (A.D. Davis) Murphy, Jack and Joanne Sutton  and Ram O’Brien of Hale’s Location, Tom Mulkern of Golfers Anonymous CC, and Evelyn Rivers of the Eagle.  If you fax (356-7100) me the “briefest” funniest golf story of your 2000 season, I will present you with a comp green fees and a cart for two at the Frye Island Golf Club – stories about Stan Millen are not admissible.