A golf course has been in play at Samoset Resort ever since 1902 when a 9-hole course was established on a rocky headland overlooking Penobscot Bay. Expanded to an 18-hole layout in the early 1970s, the course was modified a couple of decades later by Geoff Cornish.
Water comes into play on five occasions during a round here, though not, as you might expect, at any of the seven Oceanside holes. Instead, ponds of various sizes and shapes at holes 1, 10, 11, 13 and 18 form the inland aquatic hazards that golfers have to avoid.Local architect Brad Booth was tasked with implementing further improvements in 2000, when he rebuilt holes 4, 5, 14 and 18, and this renovation has added more bite to the challenge and strengthened Samoset’s reputation as a testing championship course.
An unforgettable front nine along the ocean paired with classic Maine woods golf on the back. Worth a trip
The preceding review by John is spot on in many ways. Samoset is quite beautiful during the lengthy days of summer when the Maine coastline certainly sparkles.
Just don't expect to find the New England version of Pebble Beach here.
The golf, with very few exceptions is quite simplistic. The drawing card is the setting and the manner by which those staying at Samoset receive the warmest of Maine's genuine hospitality.
It's not unusual to see courses, whose genesis came about in the early part of the 20th century, be ones providing golf primarily as a recreation activity. Yes, the architecture does have its moments and the updating of the facility by Brad Booth has been most helpful. But Samoset does not contain the kind of consistently compelling holes that provide a mesmerizing linkage of both beauty and architectural heft. There is no hole at Samoset that's in the vein of such coastal New England heavyweights like Eastward Ho! which was upgraded spectacularly by Keith Foster.
That does not mean there's nothing worth enjoying. The par-3 3rd is quite good -- ditto the long dog-leg left par-5 4th which has the Bay as its left flank. The par-3 5th is also no small task to handle as it has one of the best greens on the course. The par-4 10th requires a deft approach to fly the frontal water penalty area to the green. Among the other inward half stalwart holes is the par-5 12th. The fairway tapers down as you get nearer to the green. Those going for the target in two had best have archer-like accuracy to pull the feat off.
Samoset needs to be appreciated in providing the enchanting link between land and the Penobscot Bay. The enjoyment in dealing with varying wind velocities can add to the dexterity one must show when playing. Yet one must realize the green contours are fairly vanilla in character -- ditto for the bunker positioning and styles found.
Could Samoset be more engaging from a design standpoint? Sure. Upgrades are things being done at plenty of clubs now. Those decisions require careful planning given the needed dollars to carry such things out. Samoset does have a small footprint so any such contemplations would have to be done in adding architectural details without inserting those aspects that would simply add overall difficulty and lengthen the time it takes rounds to be completed.
Samoset has been quite successful in bringing back guests who have been smitten by what the layout provides now. Those going there for the first time and who view themselves as architectural mavens -- will need to keep those spirits firmly in check.
M. James Ward
It doesn't get much better than summer in Maine: Lobster, mild temperatures, and beautiful Atlantic coastline. The golf course at the Samoset is a pleasant complement to all of this. The Samoset is a beautiful resort with a relaxed vibe and is located in the picturesque Mid-Coast Maine town of Rockport. The golf is not world class, but the course is worth a play simply due to how scenic it is. The ocean holes at the Samoset are truly jaw dropping. Holes such as as the reachable par 5 4th that plays on level with the ocean are what make this course testing and enjoyable. Unfortunately, most of the course doesn't feature these breathtaking views, and the architecture is quite basic. From the 6th hole up until the finishing holes, the golf is made up of typical tree-lined holes with minimal shot variation. Although the finishing holes do add a little bit of pizzazz, the course falls well short of greatness.