Once summer arrives there are few places in the country that can rival Vermont for natural beauty. And that extends to the state’s golf courses, which thrive in the warm days and cool nights, and offer up sweet views that make playing a round, or two, or three, in Vermont a pleasure.
And there isn’t a better way to taste the joys of golfing Vermont than to stick around for a few days or a week with the sticks in tow and soak it all in. Some of the state’s courses offer hilly routings, while others combine a traditional lowland layout with some elevation, all of which makes for a very different, testing and scenic day on the fairways and greens.
After a round there are lots of things to do and see, including world-class fly fishing, hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, shopping and parks. Some of the courses are at resorts, so stay and play options abound in Vermont. Here are five of the best courses the state has to offer.
Killington Resort’s course was designed by Geoffrey Cornish, and the layout takes full advantage of unique mountain terrain. Snowmelt streams, a 2,000-foot elevation, and stunning vistas create a sweet venue to enjoy the game.
The routing features a pleasing mix of holes. There is water on a number of holes, and enough sand bunkers to keep your attention on tee shots and approaches to the modest-sized putting surfaces.
The second hole is a 515-yard par-five that demands a long, straight drive to set up the second shot. The green is reachable in two shots by big hitters, but there is water that fronts the putting surface, so the wiser play is layup and wedge for the third shot. The 18th is a nice finishing hole, playing 321 yards. Be careful on your tee shot on the par-four as water hugs the left side of the fairway.
Stratton Mountain Golf Course offers one of New England’s finest golf experiences with 27 holes. Designed by noted architect Geoffrey Cornish, the Forest, Lake and Mountain nines offer solid challenges to players of all ability.
The second hole on the Lake 9 is a dogleg left, 395-yard par-four that calls for a sweeping draw around trees and then a mid-iron to a green guarded by bunkers in the front. The fifth hole on the Mountain 9 is a long, 621-yard par-five that asks for three accurate shots to reach the putting surface. And the third hole on the Forest 9 is a short par-four that is reachable for big hitters, but the tee shot will have to clear trees on the left.
Green Mountain National Golf Club in Killington, Vt. features holes that leave you with demanding shots and places a premium on all-around ability. The course was carved out of the mountains, and thus offers solitude and a “private” golf experience that will challenge players of all abilities. Gently sloping fairways that feature generous landing areas, distinctive changes in elevation, and undulating greens provide natural beauty. There are centuries-old rock formations carved by glaciers, and the view from 16th tee is sublime.
The seventh hole is a downhill par-three that plays shorter than its 151 yards. With a ridge in the middle of the green, it’s best to put your tee shot to the side of the ridge with the pin placement. There’s a bunker to the back of the green.
The Mount Snow Golf Course has matured into one of Vermont’s premier “mountain” courses and has been rated one of the top five layouts in the state by Golf Digest. Designed by New England course architect Geoffrey Cornish, the 18-hole, 6,943-yard (there are three other sets of tees) championship course has also been named one of the top 10 resort courses in the country.
The track meanders through spectacular Vermont countryside and provides views of the Green Mountains, including the peaks of Mount Snow and Haystack Mountain. Tamaracks, oaks, birches and sugar maples lining fairways, while the mountains provide a majestic backdrop. The front nine is spread over scenic expanses and the back nine winds its way through wooded terrain. Water comes into play on 11 holes and 41 sand traps are strategically located on almost every hole.
Robert Trent Jones, Sr. designed the golf course at Sugarbush Resort and imbued the layout a natural feel, allowing the course to unfold with the beauty that pervades this area of upper New England. The course, a 6,464-yard, par-72 layout, opened in 1961, and rolls along the hilltops of the Mad River Valley.
Sugarbush is challenging yet fair. The second hole, a par-five that measures 510 yards from the tips, allows big hitters to crush driver and go for the green in two. But the smarter play may be three shots to find the green.