Vermont can be a sublime golf experience; great courses and magical countryside that can be enjoyed for a week or more when the temperatures rise. After a round there are lots of things to do and see, including world-class fly fishing, hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, shopping and parks. The courses are located at resorts, so stay and play options abound.
Some of the state’s courses offer hilly routings, while others combine a traditional lowland layout with some elevation, which makes for a very different, testing and scenic day on the fairways and greens.
Brattleboro Country Club (www.BrattleboroCountryClub.com) has been called “a hidden gem” and our readers simply must try out this classic New England layout.
The course measures 6,533 from the tips and is full of interesting, challenging and fair holes. Take the par-five second for instance. The hole heads up a hill, takes a right turn to a narrow strip of fairway only to head up another hill for the third shot. Then there is the drivable par-four sixth, the classic risk-reward par-five seventh, and the long par-four 11th, where bogey doesn’t feel all the bad.
A number of improvements to the course and clubhouse have been made in recent years, including a fresh look in the dining room, kitchen, and bar area, irrigation, tree work, cart paths, enhanced gardens and more. The club also has a new fleet of golf carts.
Green Mountain National Golf Club (www.GMNGC.com) in Killington is in its second year under new management, Brown Golf Management Company, which is working tirelessly to enhance an already notable facility.
Green Mountain features holes that have demanding tee and approach 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. Gently sloping fairways that feature generous landing areas, distinctive changes in elevation, and undulating greens add to the beauty. There are centuries-old rock formations carved by glaciers, and the view from 16th tee is stunning.
The seventh hole is a downhill par-three that plays shorter than its 151 yards. With a ridge in the middle of the green, put your tee shot to the side of the ridge where the pin is located. There’s a bunker in the back of the green.
Stratton Mountain Golf Course (www.Stratton.com) in Stratton has 27 holes and was designed by noted architect Geoffrey Cornish. The Forest, Lake and Mountain nines offer solid challenges to players of all abilities.
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.
The Mount Snow Golf Course (www.MountSnow.com) in Dover is one of Vermont’s premier “mountain” courses and has been rated one of the top five layouts in the state by Golf Digest magazine. Designed by 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 the Vermont countryside and provides views of the Green Mountains, including the peaks of Mount Snow and Haystack Mountain. Tamaracks, oaks, birches and sugar maples line 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.
Killington Resort’s course (www.Killington.com ) was also designed by Cornish, and the layout takes full advantage of unique mountain terrain. Snowmelt streams, a 2,000-foot elevation, and stunning vistas create a visually sweet venue in which 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.
Robert Trent Jones, Sr. designed the golf course at Sugarbush Resort (www.Sugarbush.com) and gave the layout a natural feel, allowing the course to unfold amid 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 is a par-five that measures 510 yards from the tips and allows big hitters to crush driver and go for the green in two. The smarter play may be three shots to find the green.
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