The Castine Golf Club has an integrated history that started with golf and grew to offer tennis and a yacht club.


Willie Park Jr. was age 58 when he came to Castine in September of 1921 to stake out a  new course for the Castine Golf Club. Golf had been played from at least 1896 in Castine,  and probably earlier. 

A notation in the “Grandview Register” made in July of 1896 states, “The golfers have  grown swell and employ a caddie.” Grandview is the name of the Bates-Tenney family  home on Battle Avenue, just below Fort George. The earliest photograph of a golf course in  Castine is from the Bates family album and dated 1899. The photo shows “The  Madockawando Golf links showing part of Fort George and Miss Baldwin’s.” 

It is important to note that the land is quite barren of trees and may have resembled links  land to the Scottish born Park. Prior to Parks’ visionary changes, the “golf course” was just  open land, and in fact passed through (with permission) the private property of several  landowners. The first tee was located on the ramparts of Fort George and the drive carried  over the Backshore Road. There were houses down the first fairway and in the surrounding  fields. 

As the 19th century drew to a close and the 20th century dawned, the historic beginnings  of the golf and tennis sections of the Castine Golf Club would be firmly established. 

Interest was generated in formalizing ‘the club’ at a meeting in Emerson Hall in 1914.  Early records, surely recorded after the fact, indicated that thirty to forty people intended  to “help defray the expense of the upkeep of the links by yearly subscription for a period of  five years.” 

By 1916 the club was incorporated. In 1917 the Club was prepared to pay $3,500 for the  Steven’s house and ten acres to use as its clubhouse. Perhaps typical of Castine, Stevens  deferred at first, holding out until 1918. 

Through gifts, bequeaths, and purchases, the Club acquired enough land and in 1921 they  appointed Bertrand Clerque, a new Castine landowner but long-time visitor, and Godfrey  Brinley as a committee of two “to secure advice as to the best means of laying out a  course on the property now in control of the Club”. 

Bertrand Clerque was a member at the time of the Mount Bruno Club near Montreal,  “where the celebrated golf course designer Willie Park, Jr. had just completed building the  links.” Clerque was not at the meeting at the time of his appointment, but the club must  have felt good about literally hitting a blind shot stiff to the pin.

Born in Musselburgh, Scotland, Willie Park, Jr. won the British Open in 1887 and 1889.  Park was a renaissance man; at turns champion golfer, a club maker with a patent,  groundbreaking author and renowned golf course designer. Park’s father was the champion  of the first British Open played. 

The younger Park spent his youth golfing and devising new golf clubs, becoming well  known for ingenious designs by the age of 12. For over a decade Willie was the best  known club maker in Britain. His Open victories in 1887 and 1889 set the stage for the  marketing of his newly designed clubs. Perhaps his golf club design fame peaked when he  brought a new “lofter” to market. 

The club was at the forefront of a new strategic development in the game, high approach  shots, instead of the more traditional “bump and run” shot to the green. Willie received  even more attention when he was granted a patent for his new club in 1889. Is that why  he placed bunkers directly in front of the greens on holes #2 and #4? Golfers would need  to use his new “lofter” to reach the green. 

In 1896, the first golf instruction book written by a professional was published. Willie  Park’s The Game of Golf was a thorough treatise on all aspects of golf; the equipment,  swing, and method of play (strategy). It was complete with posed sequential photographs  and drawings, including overhead perspective. A section was devoted to planning courses,  handicapping, and running competitions. That early success was followed by The Art of  Putting. Published in 1920, the book came out shortly before he boarded a steamer from  Boston to Castine to “tramp over” the club grounds.Willie had a reputation as a highly  skilled putter. His stance, fairly open to the hole, was common for the day. It was Willie  Park who said, “The man who can putt is a match for any man.” 

 With the advent of mass manufacturing of clubs, he devoted his latter years to course  design and construction, working in Britain, Europe and intensively in North America. Park  lived in the United States and Canada for seven years, first setting up a retail outlet in New  York City and then course design offices in New York and Toronto. Park’s expertise was in  conceiving playable golf courses using, as much as possible, the natural contours of the  land. Park had a hand in the design or construction of 95 courses in the British Isles, 49  courses in the USA, 20 courses in Canada, and 11 courses in Austria and Switzerland. 

As a result of these activities Park’s golfing skills declined, but he took part in some famous  matches, notably with the Astor’s and Vanderbilt’s. He is regarded as the first great golf  course architect, with Sunningdale Old being his masterpiece. 

The current 9-hole par 35 layout was designed by Park in 1921. He said the Castine course  was one of his best. Park’s design presets nine holes on Windmill Hill across from the  Revolutionary War era Fort George and overlooking Castine Harbor and Blue Hill in the  distance. 

The course opened in 1924.

Grateful appreciation and acknowledgment is given to James Elliott Lindsley for the use of  his book Breaking A Hundred to prepare this summary. Special thanks to the Castine  Historical Society for the use of the photographs. James Eliott Lindsley’s book, Breaking A  Hundred; A Centennial History of the Castine Golf Club, can be purchased at the Castine  Golf Club Pro shop. 


In the late nineteenth century, tennis courts were located in Fort George and on the  adjacent Bates property. There were also courts on the Blake property (now the Belmont  cottage) on Perkins Street. The “Grandview Register” recorded the winners of tennis  matches in 1895 as “Miss Burr and Mr. Underwood” in mixed doubles and Mr. Hooker as  the men’s singles winner.  

When the Club was incorporated in 1916, there was interest in constructing tennis courts  on the newly acquired Stevens property. The current courts 1 and 2 were built in 1923.  Courts 3 and 4 were added in 1970. Tennis records are incomplete; however, the earlier  winner of The Elizabeth H. Parsons Cup for Ladies’ Singles is listed as Edith Farnsworth in  1923. 

The tennis program has continued to be an active part of the Castine summer community  with lessons, clinics, and annual club championships for men’s and ladies’ singles and  doubles, as well as mixed doubles. 


As early as 1933 Richard Faulkner asked the golf club to foster and encourage small  sailboat racing in Castine waters. It was not until 1952 that the present club began to form  just below Noah Hooper’s embalming room in the Acadia Wharf building on Sea Street.  Three people spearheaded the start of an organized group of those who loved being on the  water: Darby Betts, Fred Foote, Sr., and Phyllis Tenney. Their initiative was sparked in part  by the launching of the first three Castine Class boats in 1951, built by Mace and Alonso  Eaton for the Austin, Robinson, and Brownell families. 

The Yacht Club facility consisted of one room in the Acadia Wharf building, which burned  down in 1970. There were no bathrooms, no storage lockers, and but one bare light bulb  in the ceiling. As a division of the Golf Club, the Yacht Club was formed to promote a love  of sailing among its members. The first Sailing Master was hired in 1958.  

In the summer of 1964, 40 interested people gathered at Ann and Ed Miller’s house to  discuss possible solutions, and specifically the need for waterfront property and a  building. The first challenge was met with the donation by Peggy Robinson of the Old  Custom House Wharf on Water Street at the foot of Dyer Lane. The second was solved  with an imaginative building design by David Austin, followed by construction oversight  by Charles Chase. The necessary funds were raised by a capital fund drive led by the Rev. 

Raymond Johnson, which raised over $45,000 in one year from 130 people. The building  was completed in 1966, along with the pier and one float. 

Since 1958, there has been an active youth sailing program for ages 6+, and also adult  activities. Castine Class races on Saturdays have been a tradition, including the Robinson  Cup race on July 4, the Eaton Cup race and lobster stew dinner in August, and the end-of the-season Labor Day race.  

In recent years, The Lord Nelson Model Boat race attracts many innovative young boat  designers, and the Adult Opti races are always a crowd pleaser.