Jason Porter has had a tough summer. The golf pro and director of at the Algonquin Hotel’s beautiful ocean front 18-hole course hasn’t been able to swing a club since early summer, due to an injury. Yet he still gets to the course at the crack of dawn and leaves with the evening light. It pains him not to be able to swing his arm back but he soldiers on, teaching and walking the course, without being able to play.
I played a few holes with Jason and every time I took a swing, I could feel him wince. He did a great job selecting which clubs to use, and providing those little tips that pros always know will keep the ball a little straighter and out of the woods. After not picking up a club in ten years, and only playing about six times in my life, I amazed both of us with straight and walloping drives and even some pretty good chip shots. Putting–well, as I’ve always said, that’s the devil of the game that will always elude me.
The course here at in St Andrews by the Sea features incredible views–and it’s even better now that many trees have been removed so the open views to Passamaquoddy bay are available on more holes. Jason told me that the new course designer has brought his own crew in and they work many, many hours a day, not stopping until the light is gone. Smoothing out fairways, removing trees, and making the whole course better is all in the works. The number of golfers has steadily increased, mostly due to the business conferences that are hosted at the Algonquin.
I asked Jason about the problem with golf these days. The number of players has declined dramatically after so many millennials have realized that the game is very hard, and that it takes five hours. Who has that kind of time? But Jason said that a few solutions loom that might brighten the sport’s popularity as a whole.
These include using one-foot oval holes in the green, hiring caddies who can help guide players about which clubs to play, and losing the scorecards. They have even brought in some ‘golf bikes’ that allow players to ride their bikes around the course instead of just walking. “Golf should be fun,” Jason said. “It’s a chance to spend time with your family, or your friends…you don’t have to always keep score, just have fun, hit the ball, and enjoy walking in nature for a few hours.”
While we played the 14th hole, I spotted a peculiar looking animal next to the green. It was a porcupine, a common site, Jason said. Moose and deer are also often spotted on this course that’s an Audubon certified sanctuary. That means they apply the absolute minimum of pesticide, in fact, they haven’t had to put any down in many years. “We flood the greens to get rid of pests, they just get flooded out with water,” he explained.
And with such extraordinary views, that makes this course just about perfect!