Moose Meadows: A wilderness golfing experience




COPLIN PLANTATION — As you enter the driveway to Moose Meadows Golf Course along Nash Stream in Coplin, the pristine beauty of the surrounding terrain strikes you.”I think this place has a tremendous amount of character that lends itself to the golfing experience,” said co-owner Rocky Stewart.Stewart, a Rangeley resident who has been developing the golf course for the past 14 years along with friend and fellow Rangeley resident Mooch Brackett, learned the game of golf while growing up on Cape Breton Island. “I have very fond memories of my family and our experiences up there,” he said. “Being Scottish, golf is in our blood.”When he purchased the property, Stewart began to picture a place where he could enjoy his passion with friends.”When I bought the property, it was clear cut,” he said. “I was able to get a good look at the top of it. It lent itself to a couple of golf holes.”He admitted that when he and Brackett began to shape the land for the course, they never imagined that they would one day have a nine-hole layout that could be enjoyed by golfers of all ages and abilities. “When it started out, we never had any intention of bringing it this far,” he said. “We just kept cutting trees and seeding.”They certainly had their fill of long days working on the course, and then some. Many stones were cleared for mowing, and trees and brush were cleared. Top dressing was put down to aid in grass growth.The gently undulating terrain and the quirky climate of the area add to the strategy of the layout. “There is a little microcosm of climate here,” said Stewart. “Back in the early days, when we had inclement weather in Rangeley, I’d come here and the sun would be shining. There’s times when I’ll drive through Lang Town and it will be raining, but there won’t be any rain here.”Wind comes into play on many of the holes. “The wind can change direction on any given day,” said Stewart. The course meanders through a combination of open and wooded areas, and features several greenside bunkers to contend with. A 16-foot deep pond graces the right side of the fifth hole, while Nash Stream comes into play on any shot missed short and right on the third.The trees add to the course’s allure. Stewart has preserved a towering evergreen that guards the right side of the fifth green, and tee shots on the third and seventh holes are played from chutes of trees that provide shade on hot days.Trees played a critical role on the original third hole, which featured a tee shot over trees to a kidney shaped green. That hole no longer exists, as Stewart moved the green to an open area.”Surprisingly, a lot of people liked that shot,” he said of the original tee shot. He said that he was looking at having two greens on the third hole someday in order to give visitors the unique thrill of trying to hoist their ball over the trees onto the green.The fourth hole features a spectacular view of Crocker Mountain from the tee, while the sixth has a ditch, high grass, trees and boulders closely protecting the right side of the narrow green, making any shot missed to the right a virtually impossible up and down.The seventh is perhaps the signature hole on the course, with a 166-yard uphill tee shot to a two-tiered green guarded by a bunker in front and a tree on the front right. Golfers who find themselves confounded by the undulations of the green can take solace in the view of Black Nubble Mountain in the distance.Stewart can attest first hand to the difficulties posed by the seventh. For the past five or six years, he has taken part in a tournament at the course known as Mooch’s Mulligan with a group of friends. The event is held in honor of Brackett, who recovered from a broken neck several years ago. “It was a second chance for him, like a mulligan,” explained Stewart.In each tournament, a closest to the pin contest has been held from the back tee on the seventh. The fact that there has never been a winner can be summed up concisely: No one in the contest has ever hit the green with his or her tee shot.The course’s clubhouse, which doubles as a maintenance shop, has a history all its own. It was once the projection theater room at the old Lakeside Theater in Rangeley. “A couple friends of mine dismantled it, and we dragged it in here across Route 16,” said Stewart.Every day, Stewart mows and maintains the course, leaving him little time to play the game. However, he stresses that it is worth it, and encourages anyone curious about what lies beyond the driveway’s entrance to come in and play.”There’s no pressure out here,” he said. “It’s not like we have a lot of players. It’s not all that easy, but I have a lot of players who like playing here.”The two sets of tees on each hole allow children and beginners to enjoy the experience, and golfers have a choice of playing nine, 18 or as many holes as they wish. A donation can has been placed at the first tee for visitors to the layout. In the future, as the course matures, Stewart hopes to host tournaments and other events.”I encourage anyone out there who wants to have an event to come out,” he said. “They just need to let me know, and I’ll mow the course for it.”He said that many people have assisted him with the course’s evolution, including A & A Brochu, which provided gleaming white sand for the bunkers, and the members of maintenance staffs at other area golf courses. “I’m still learning the golf business,” said Stewart.He paid tribute to Brackett, who has been one of the driving forces behind the course’s creation. “He’s having a really hard time,” said Stewart, noting that Brackett is suffering from multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair. “We miss him out here.”

Course co-owner Rocky Stewart stands with the course's distinctive flag.

Course co-owner Rocky Stewart stands with the course’s distinctive flag.

Course co-owner Rocky Stewart stands with the course's distinctive flag.

Course co-owner Rocky Stewart stands with the course’s distinctive flag.

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