Up Your Game: Green Mountain Golf
Paradise Found: An Expert’s Guide to Golf in the Green Mountains
With mountain views at every turn, golf courses in and around Manchester might make you want to do anything but keep your head down. But don’t let the serenity fool you. These courses are for playing. “Bring your clubs and bring your game,” says Joy Proft, Manchester business owner and resident golf expert.
One of the best things about living in a vacation destination is that the perks are right here in our backyard. “I love the course at Equinox. It doesn’t take long to feel like you’re away from it all. 360-degree views are everywhere from just about every spot on the course. Holes 1 and 2 ease you in and by #4, you feel like you are on the most fabulous golf vacation without a care in the world…except which short iron you want to use. Number 5 is affectionately known as the bell hole. You ring a bell once you get through its big dip to let the group behind you know you’re clear. Number 7 is a memorable par 5 – good luck getting over the road and then it’s all uphill!”
“I’ve been fortunate to play a lot of golf holes in my life, and #13 is one of my absolute faves. The green is elevated with a capital “E” and there is an amazing pay off once you are up there. Look to the steeple of the Manchester Congregational Church and beyond to Mount Equinox. If you walk off the green with a par and a pause for the view, there isn’t much else that will be on your mind. A really great feeling.” Joy’s tips for fall play: Layer up. “Ladies, my favorite is a sleeveless golf shirt under a quarter zip pull-over with a nice fitting v neck cable knit sweater over that. If you need more warmth, add a fleece vest. This combo allows your arms and shoulders to have maximum movement without feeling bound up. Taking off a layer one-by-one as it gets warmer feels refreshing as you head to the next tee!”
“Equinox par 3 #14 is cute, #15 is round-about fun, and #16 is one of those par 3’s that is tougher to reach than you think. #18 is a great finishing hole lined by birch trees at the tee and a dicey uphill approach to the green. My advice, stay away from the bunker on the left and you’ll be set. If a round of golf can be renewing, Equinox is the course to make it happen.” Golfweek ranks it among the best in Vermont and includes it on their hot list of 200 best resort courses nationwide.
Manchester Country Club.
MCC is a park-like gem and while private, they offer non-resident membership options and terrific “stay and play” packages at a variety of local lodging properties. “I love the back and the front differently – if you play it, you’ll understand why! The front nine lets you settle in a bit and find your game with generous fairways and not too much trouble. I love the par 3’s on this course, especially 6 and 8. One is a bit of an uphill and the other is a bit of a downhill – both a blast to play. The front isn’t easy, but it’s a comfortable introduction to the more testy back, and the scenery can’t be beat. Every time I play it, I feel like I’m on a fabulous Sunday drive. The trees and landscaping are perfect – as are the views!” Note: Go for waterproof shoes. Even if it isn’t raining, the mornings can be damp. Invest in waterproof or have an extra pair in your bag or in the cart.
“Manchester’s back nine is one of the most challenging I’ve ever played starting off with an over-a-pond tee shot on #10. After you putt out, walk slowly to 11 and pause on the bridge over the gentle flow of the east branch of the Batten Kill. It’s gorgeous. If MCC has an amen corner, #13, #14, and #15 are it. 13 is a tough par 5 (did I mention it’s tough?) and the tee shot on #14 tests every ounce of skill I have. Every time I play that hole, I stand on the tee box and view the fairway full of bunkers and say, “Where CAN I hit it?” (when in doubt, stay left and short…) Once you get past 14, #15 is a fun uphill blind tee shot. Smack a good one and you’ve left yourself a sweet downhill approach shot.” Check out their hole-by-hole tips.
“MCC has gone with a traditional and minimalist approach on the tee boxes with granite hole markers set into the grass so that nothing takes away from the lush scenery. Views of the Taconic mountain range are everywhere. Be sure to pause on the tee boxes at 2, 8, 16, and 18 to soak it all in. There are foliage views that you can only get from vantage points like this! While it’s a fun place to play, Manchester Country Club is also a fun place to have a bite to eat. Their restaurant is open to the public, so even if you aren’t up for playing, you’re invited to soak in the gorgeous golf atmosphere. They’ve just remodeled their 3-season patio and the shack at the turn often has the fire pits blazing to welcome you home from the 9th and the 18th. Manchester Country Club is a welcoming and special place. Lucky you if you get to play it!”
Stratton Mountain Resort.
Stratton Mountain Resort is a mecca for outdoor adventure in every season. “If you think Stratton’s a beauty in the bright white winter, you have to see it in its autumn splendor. Wow. There are 3 beautiful nines to choose from: forest, lake, and mountain. Each one rewards you in its own unique way.”
“Forest has you meandering through holes with not another soul in sight. While all the nature is peaceful, a couple of the holes are downright wild. Forest 8 is one! The green itself is big and friendly (with a gorgeous view) but the approach can be a bit of a challenge. Overall, the 27-hole course is inviting to any level of golfer, and Lake is perhaps the friendliest. It winds around a lovely body of water and is more consistently wide-open than the other two courses. The tee box of Lake #9 is a perfect selfie-spot. Snap one against the picture-perfect backdrop of blue sky, big mountain, and a glorious golf hole to finish out your nine. Tip: If you’re riding, bring a towel or blanket for the seat.”
“I always hope that I get to play Mountain. It could be the way each hole is situated in and around the massive mountain, or it’s because of that time my friend and I were waved up by the group in front of us to play through their foursome on the par 3 #2. We both made par and all six of us hurrahed. I remember my friend saying, “…and that’s how you play through” as we journeyed over to 3. Save some swings for Mountain 5. With 621 yards from the tips and 522 from the forward tees, this downhill is a boomer’s paradise complete with a mountain stream running alongside.“
“If you’re game for 27, there’s a special rate for you gung-ho folks. If you only want to play nine, that’s okay, too. The Green Apron Restaurant is next to the pro shop and has a farm-to-table menu for lunch and dinner and snacks in between. It’s about a 25-minute drive from Manchester and worth every beautiful second of it.”
Troon-managed 1927 Walter Travis design. A par 71, 6,423 yard Vermont gem of a course. Historic village setting.
Manchester Country Club.
1967 Geoffrey Cornish design. Renovated in 2003 by Steve Durkee. One of the finest in New England.
Stratton Mountain Resort.
Stratton Golf School founded by Arnold Palmer in 1969. Geoffrey Cornish design Golf Course opened in 1964. Three distinct nine hole layouts. Six-year stop on the LPGA Tour.
About the Author: Joy Proft is the owner of JOY all things underthings, a full-service lingerie shop located on Main Street in Manchester. She’s played golf for 25+ years, has attended the Stratton Mountain Golf School, and is fortunate to get out there on the course at least once a week in season. Joy inherited the golf bug from her father (who has mad skills around the greens) and she recently won the women’s longest drive contest at the Dormy Grill Open, a fundraiser for the Manchester Fire Department.
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