2015-06-05 / Front Page

Dutch Elm celebrating 50 years

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer


Clockwise from top: Dutch Elm Golf Club in Arundel, photographed in a recent aerial shot, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month and all season long; Club founder Lucien Bourque, center, is flanked in 1997, the year before his death, by two generations to succeed him in ownership, his son-in-law Norm Hevey and his grandson Jeff Hevey; Lucien Bourque hands a scorecard to the first members of the Dutch Elm Golf Glub, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Goldman of Kennebunk, on opening day, May 29, 1965. (Courtesy photos) Clockwise from top: Dutch Elm Golf Club in Arundel, photographed in a recent aerial shot, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month and all season long; Club founder Lucien Bourque, center, is flanked in 1997, the year before his death, by two generations to succeed him in ownership, his son-in-law Norm Hevey and his grandson Jeff Hevey; Lucien Bourque hands a scorecard to the first members of the Dutch Elm Golf Glub, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Goldman of Kennebunk, on opening day, May 29, 1965. (Courtesy photos) ARUNDEL — Jeff Hevey always knew he had one of, if not the best, backyards in York County. Maybe in all of Maine.

That’s because Hevey grew up on the grounds of the Dutch Elm Golf Club, on Brimstone Road in Arundel, a literal stone’s throw from the course’s clubhouse and pro shop. Hevey was trimming the grounds by the time he was 5 or 6, with wooden blocks tied to his feet to help him reach the pedals of the giant four-blade riding mower. As an adolescent and teen, he spent hours on the putting green, he and his friends treating it like a miniature golf course.

“To this say, that’s still probably the best part of my golf game, the putting,” he says, with laugh.

But Hevey has more to be proud of than just his game, or his grounds — he now has his own home just off the fairway. That’s because this year, Dutch Elm turns 50 years old, a milestone for any Maine course, but a special one for Hevey because it’s been in his family since opening day.

The Dutch Elm Golf Club was built by Hevey’s grandfather, Lucien Bourque. As owner of his own Biddeford based construction company, Bourque had just finished building the back nine at the Purpoodock Club golf course in Cape Elizabeth one day in 1963 when he decided playing on a golf course looked like more fun than building one.

So, with nine-hole courses being all the rage at the time, Bourque bought 325 acres in Arundel and went to work. On Saturday, May 29, 1965, golf pro Harvey LaMontagne, a future Maine Golf Hall of Famer, took a swing at the first tee and the rest was history.

In 1972, Bourque hired his son-in-law, a local boy named Norm Hevey, working at the time as a naval architect in Virgina, to replace the club’s outgoing superintendent.

“We were looking to come back to Maine,” Norm Hevey recalls. “I really didn’t know anything about it. I mean, I played the game and enjoyed it, but it was all on-the-jobtraining. Still, I wasn’t afraid to ask questions and soon I found I really enjoyed it.”

Hevey and his wife Elaine took up residence at the course and never looked back, buying the property when Bourque retired in 1972 and expanding it to 18 holes in 1981.


Harvey LaMontagne, a future member of the Maine Golf Hall of Fame, drives a shot off the first tee to officially open Dutch Elm Golf Club in Arundel on Saturday, May 29, 1965. (Courtesy photo) Harvey LaMontagne, a future member of the Maine Golf Hall of Fame, drives a shot off the first tee to officially open Dutch Elm Golf Club in Arundel on Saturday, May 29, 1965. (Courtesy photo) “I’ve been here for 43 years now” Hevey said, “That’s a long time, but it’s flown by. There’s not a day here I haven’t enjoyed or that I didn’t want to get right out of bed in the morning and go to work.”

Living on a golf course rubbed off on the Hevey’s children as it was bound to, in part because he took the kids out nightly to play a hole or two after the regulars had gone home. The Hevey’s daughter Jennifer now lives in Massachusetts, but she won the Maine schoolgirl state championship in her senior hear at Biddeford High School. Jeff, meanwhile, played golf for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he earned an associate’s degree in turf management.

“I always knew this was going to be my life,” he says. “I just made a decision early on that this was what I was going to do.”

Jeff Hevey succeeded his father as superintendent of the course until the elder Hevey eased into semi-retirement three years ago, when he took over daily operations and hired a new superintendent.

For Jeff Hevey, the golf club has been more than a job, it’s also been the site of many major milestones, from learning to drive on the property under the tutelage of his grandfather, to getting married to his wife Dana. Now, Jeff’s son, who works in the clubhouse, is showing some career aspirations, although no one is trying to pressure him into taking up the family business. Still, grandma can’t quite hide her pride.

“It really means a lot to me,” said Elaine Hevey. “It was my father’s wish. He always said, try to keep it in the family as long as you can, because he worked very hard on this. It was really a big deal and he was very proud of it.”

“It’s just been really special,” Jeff Hevey agrees. “Not a lot of golf courses have been around for 50 years in Maine, and almost none have been in one family for that entire time.”

In the 50 years since opening day, a lot has changed. A couple’s membership then was $80 for the year, or $600 in 2015 dollars, less than half the current cost. Still, Norm Hevey says Dutch Elm has always been “a blue collar club,” a golf course for the no-frills working man. There are no “social members,” Hevey says, all 300-plus members play, generally after putting in a hard day’s work. But they’re a low-key group for the most part. That’s why the club’s official birthday party on June 12 will be a simple barbecue.

Still, while some golf clubs, such as the municipal course in South Portland, struggle, Dutch Elm keeps on keeping on as healthy as its grand opening.

“The golf business will never be like it was before 2007, but nothing else is going to be the same either,” said Norm Hevey. “We just try to give people a good product at a decent price and we find that seems to work. Our members here, from day one, have always been fantastic. I consider them to be our greatest asset.”

They don’t even mind the club’s name, suggested to Bourque by a friend because of the many elm trees that once dotted the site, neither realizing “Dutch Elm” was not the name of the tree, but the disease that was slowly killing them at the time across Maine and New England.

“But it doesn’t matter,” said Norm Hevey. “That name isn’t important. We could call it Augusta National and that wouldn’t change anything. It’s all about the members. That’s what makes this such a great place to play.”

And to work, as Jeff Hevey gears up for the next 50 years.

“It’s very important, the legacy,” he said. “This place, it’s like one of my kids. There’s not a day that goes by we don’t talk about the course, or think about the course. Or even an hour most times.”

“Or wake up in the middle of the night with ideas,” added Dana, with a laugh.

Return to top