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Win a Maine golf course for just $200

For $200 and 200 well-chosen words, entrants around the world are eligible to win the Capital City Golf Course in Augusta, Maine, including the clubhouse, equipment, four-bedroom home and three other large, insulated buildings on the 100-acre property.

Richard Violette, a 70-year-old Maine native, retired state worker, and sometime inventor, bought the 100-acre parcel 13 years ago and began converting the cow pastures, rolling hayfields and two brooks into a public golf course. He started with a par-3, nine-hole course and later added the back nine, a longer, more challenging, par-36 course.

Now he wants to move on to other projects, including snowmobiling and his latest invention -- automatic retractable shoe spikes, for which he has a patent. Rather than approach a real estate agent to list the property, Violette and his wife of 50 years, Rachel, decided on a novel approach that would give anybody a chance to own and operate a golf course.

Contest rules and regulations can be found at the web site, The site touts the charm of living in Maine and includes descriptions and photos of the course, even helpful hints on writing the essay, that must open with the line, "I would like to own and operate the Capital City Golf Course because ..."

A panel of judges will choose the winning essay. The deadline for entries is December 5, 2000. If Violette receives more than 20,000 entries, he also will award other prizes -- a condominium overlooking Rangeley Lake and scholarships of $15,000 and $10,000. If he does not receive a minimum of 20,000 entries, he will return all entry fees -- although according to the rules, he can change the minimum entries required at his discretion.

"You can't get much for $200 any more, but here you can get a golf course," said Violette. "I kind of like that."

According to Violette, the property is located in a growing area of North Augusta and while the golf course is a turnkey operation, a new owner would have the opportunity to expand the course -- he has a permit and a rough design for an additional par-36 nine-holer. Violette suggests resurrecting the driving range or adding an indoor miniature golf course in one of the large empty storage building son the site.

"There's plenty to do," he said. "You can just run the place and it will do just fine, or you can think big and make improvements and take it even further. Either way, someone will be very lucky to win, for sure."

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