When it comes to skiing, it has often been said that Stowe Mountain Resort is the “Aspen of the East” with its spectacular terrain and top-notch lodging and dining. Now, Stowe Mountain Resort can include golf amongst its major selling points.
The revitalization of Spruce Peak at Stowe, situated at the foot of Vermont’s tallest peak (Mount Mansfield), has created a striking new resort and residential community in Stowe Mountain Lodge that offers nothing but plush, luxurious amenities.
In turn, it has produced Stowe Mountain Club, an awe-inspiring gem of a golf course rated by Golf Magazine as one of the “Top-Ten New Courses You Can Play” this year. It is the perfect complement for guests who like the finer things in life and gravitate toward a high-end golf experience. Architect Bob Cupp made his first signature course in New England a thing of beauty. It’s a par-72, 6,411-yard layout that features panoramic mountain views, dramatic changes in elevation, the refreshing sound of mountain streams, and sports surprising maturity for a year-old course. Stowe Mountain Club is also the first golf course in Vermont to achieve certification as a Signature Sanctuary by Audubon International because of its environmental initiatives, including the creation of a back-nine body of water known as Peregrine Lake, which holds 111-million gallons of water for state-of-the-art course irrigation.
While Stowe Country Club is still a prime golf destination in the valley, Stowe Mountain Club should prove to be a welcome addition to the outdoor landscape. Where there are 300,000 skiers who visit Stowe in the winter, there are over 1 million visitors who come to Stowe in summer because of the variety of outdoor activities available including golf, hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, gondola rides, and other activities. Plus, there’s the natural, physical beauty of northern Vermont in summer, where the average temperature is 10 degrees cooler in the mountains than in urban areas.
Resort guests enjoy a pampered experience from the get-go, from having equipment stored away and brought out upon request, to the services at the newly-opened Golf Cottage, which features all the exclusive amenities of a private-course clubhouse right down to having your golf shoes polished after your round, to wonderfully-prepared food and drink options in the lounge.
The unforgettable views begin on the first hole, a tight, uphill 321-yard par-4 from the blue tees that forces you to remember that you’re playing golf, not taking a nature hike.
The 480-yard, par-5 second hole is the number one handicap hole, and it also gives the golfer a sense of awareness in terms of how compact the golf course can be. The course is literally carved out of the side of mountain wilderness and you have to keep your ball in play with not much room for error.
The 380-yard, par-4 fifth hole begins the most demanding portion of the front nine, but also offers more breathtaking mountain vistas. At an elevation of 1,860 feet, you have to keep your drive and approach shots to the left side, because anything to the right will cascade down a steep slope. One wrong step there could also send you tumbling, too. Maintaining your focus here is a challenge with the view of Mt. Mansfield serving as a potential distraction.
A 200-yard carry over a rock face will leave you with a short pitch to the green on the sixth hole, which features a nice view of the Stowe valley to the south and Peregrine Lake to the west.
The par-5, 475-yard ninth hole is my favorite hole on the golf course. I call it “down the chute” as both your drive and second shot travel into a gradual, downhill fairway that funnels into the green with the surrounding ski slopes and gondola serving as a backdrop. It is one of my favorite spots in New England.
It’s back-to-back par-5’s at the 10th hole, which plays uphill to an unbelievably small green protected by a massive rock ledge to the left. The par-4, 12th and 13th holes are the first holes on the course which maneuver right-to-left as the 13th green represents one of the lowest points on the golf course.
The par-4, 321-yard 14th hole, however, features a 30-foot rise from tees to fairway and the green sits like a peninsula that juts into the lake. The par-3, 15th hole is a typical, risk-reward hole over water, but could prove to create more havoc if there is a gusty wind.
The 17th hole is my second-favorite hole on the course, and the longest of the par-5’s at 600 yards (I think I have a love affair with the par-5’s here). Watch out for the bunkers on the left side on your tee shot, then make note of the golden fescue on the right side as you hit your second shot down a narrow fairway. A driver and a three-wood still left me with an eight-iron to the green, which commands accuracy because of bunkers on the left and a narrow, south-to