BOSTON, Mass – New England is home to many of the best golf courses in the country, an embarrassment of riches with jaw-dropping playing fields and top-rated holes unmatched practically anywhere. But hitting the green at a place that’s also a vacation destination? Well, now you’ve unlocked the next level of summer fun. That’s why this golf season, we decided to “build” our own fantasy resort course from 18 of the toughest and greatest holes within the borders of New England.
The result is a must-play gem stretching from Vermont’s Green Mountains to the rocky coast of Maine, from the tranquil woods of Connecticut to the scenic shores of Cape Cod. With so many stunning and challenging holes to choose from, it wasn’t easy to land on the perfect lineup, and many tough choices had to be made. But now it’s time for the big reveal: the 18 must-play resort golf holes—and what to do when you’re not on the course.
The Mount Washington Course
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
No. 13 • Par 4 • 375 yards
Depending on how you feel about your game, the top of Omni Mount Washington Resort’s course, which rises 1,600 feet above sea level, might be a good place to yell at the top of your lungs, so no one can hear, “My game stinks!” Our favorite hole is No. 13, a par-4 slight dogleg right that routes oddly up the side of the mountain. The green is perched on the highest elevation of the mountaintop, and it’s worth mentioning that the spectacular view of the Presidential Mountain Range will last a lifetime.
Sugarloaf Golf Club
Carrabassett Valley, Maine
No. 10 • Par 4 • 330 yards
The undisputed best hole at this mountain resort’s course is No. 10—a short yet quirky par 4. “The hole is tree-lined on both sides of the fairway, with five bunkers to navigate,” explains head pro Chaz Babin. “It’s only 330 yards and drops dramatically, about 100 feet in total.” It also stands out thanks to the stunning mountain panoramas, which will complement your entire four-hour journey through a rural, thinly populated region of Maine. Just be sure to bring a few extra balls: The par-72 layout has some slope that’s sure to test your game.
Lake of Isles North Course
North Stonington, Connecticut
No. 2 • Par 3 • 178 yards
If you’re one of those golfers whose mantra is, “I can shoot 88 anywhere,” you might need a few more lashes to get through Foxwoods Resort Casino’s challenging Lake of Isles North Course which is rated the most difficult by USGA in Connecticut. Featuring rolling terrain, island greens, and extraordinary views, the award-winning Rees Jones–designed layout can stretch to a whopping 7,300 yards with multiple tee boxes. Hole No. 2, a par 3 dubbed “Yellow Perch,” offers the opportunity to hit downhill on the green to the sound of splashing lake water. Suggestion: Stand on the tee, well before the casino empties your wallet, and shout as loud as you can: “The Wonder of It All.”
No. 15 • Par 4 • 370 yards
Mention Killington to New England skiers, and their pulse tends to quicken. But the resort’s championship golf course, carved high in the Green Mountain Forest, is decidedly less punishing. With elevations rising to 2,000 feet, the 18-hole design is one of the area’s best-kept secrets. The signature hole is No. 15, a nifty par 4 (birdies are rare) featuring a postcard-perfect view of the mountain range. Hit your driver hard and long to a wide-open fairway, and you might get home in two. Hit your next shot in front and expect a short pitch-and-run to the oversize green. With your feet planted firmly and wrists locked at impact, make that par putt to create a lasting memory of surviving one of the biggest mountains in the East.
Owl’s Nest Resort
Thornton, New Hampshire
No. 14 • Par 3 • 220 yards
“Play it once and remember it forever.” That’s how Owl’s Nest operations manager Cole Ryan describes this hole, which offers sublime happiness if you knock your first shot on the green, then two-putt for par. The most difficult part “is for golfers to focus on their game, since there are spectacular views in every direction,” Ryan says. Of course, all of the holes at this four-season resort, encompassing 600-plus acres in the heart of the White Mountains, offer scenic distractions, with distinctive elevation changes that show off its charm and challenges.
Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club
No. 17 • Par 5 • 600 yards
At six football fields long, this dogleg-left, uphill par 5 is one of the most challenging holes on the course—and not one you’re likely to ever forget. Still, you don’t need to be Mickelson or Sorenstam to make par. Steer clear of the lefthand fairway bunkers to set up your approach, and a good second shot should leave you inside 200 yards. Bonus: The handsome property, which features tree-lined fairways and dramatic elevation changes, boasts gorgeous views of Cape Cod Bay.
Lake Morey Resort
No. 12 • Par 5 • 504 yards
Come for the unspoiled Green Mountain beauty, stay for the par-70, 6,024-yard course, which has bunkers and water hazards sure to generate a few swearwords. Hole No. 12 at the Geoffrey Cornish–designed gem is an uphill par 5 that plays over 500 yards: After your drive through a narrow chute, you can plan on two more shots to the guarded green. Your reward for finishing the hole? Looking back toward the tee for second-to-none views.
BoothBay Harbor Country Club
No. 8 • Par 4 • 326 yards
No time to visit some of the great golf resorts of the world, such as Pebble Beach, Streamsong, or Innisbrook? Rejoice, New England golf aficionados—Boothbay Harbor is a magnificently impressive property and less than a three-hour drive from Boston and is as good as golfing gets. Known for its diverse topography and tour-like conditions, the course was reconstructed in 2016 and features six signature-worthy holes. The finest is No. 8. From the elevated tee box, the entire hole is laid out in front of you, including a water hazard on the left and a large landing area down the middle, should you manage to hit a drive straight.
Samoset Golf Course
No. 4 • Par 5 • 480 yards
Laid across 230 acres of prime Maine real estate, Samoset Golf Course is one of the most remarkable 18-hole layouts in New England—some, in fact, have fondly referred to it as “Pebble Beach of the East.” It’s a beauty and the 121-year-old tract boasts dazzling views of the Atlantic Ocean and Penobscot Bay, particularly surrounding its signature hole: No. 4, a par-5 dogleg left that hugs the coastline with a postcard-perfect green surrounded by a rugged stone seawall. You might even spot some seals hanging out on the rocks at low tide.
The Golf Club at Equinox
Manchester Village, Vermont
No. 16 • Par 3 • 181 yards
The uphill No. 16 here is the real deal. The longest short hole on the course, which has been ranked as one of Vermont’s best since it was designed by Walter Travis in 1927 and renovated by Rees Jones in 1991, it requires a solid tee shot over a passing creek and a trio of bunkers. Par is good; bogey is common.
Cape Cod National Golf Club
No. 6 • Par 3 • 178 yards
Hole No. 6 at the highly acclaimed Cape Cod National Golf Club, where access is restricted only to members and guests of the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, is one of the best reasons to play here. It has character: water, sand, and a flawless putting surface. Just be sure to keep your tee shot right when playing—first, to avoid rinsing your ball (and not by the conventional means of a ball washer), and second, to avoid two deep bunkers that dominate the left side.
Woodstock Country Club
No. 14 • Par 4 • 272 yards
Not all golf holes are beasts designed to aggravate, tease, and make us consider taking up tennis. The most par-able of the 18 holes on this course, Woodstock’s No. 14 makes the case for fun thanks to a gentle twist and zero heavy demands. The hole slides into a dogleg left, with a fairway bunker acting more as a marker than a hazard. While the picturesque course is overall short by modern standards (measuring just over 6,000 yards), it requires creativity and shot-making skills to navigate the creek that runs the length of it.
Atkinson Resort & Country Club
Atkinson, New Hampshire
No. 12 • Par 5 • 477 yards
Grip it and rip it on the tee box of this splendid par 5, guarded on the left side by a long fairway bunker that prevents balls from rolling into the woods. Then get ready for a challenge. It’s a “real risk-reward hole with a pond in front, which cannot be seen as you prepare for your second shot,” notes director of golf Peter Doherty. “Needless to say, course knowledge is important.” Good thing Atkinson also offers a state-of-the-art practice facility and its own golf academy for players of all levels.
Mohegan Sun Golf Club
No. 6 • Par 5 • 485 yards
It’s okay to walk onto the tee at No. 6 with some swagger, even though the hole might eat your lunch. The par 5 slopes downward, then doglegs right 90 degrees, with plenty of bunkers along the way that could lead to the dreaded snowman, a.k.a. 8 on the scorecard. The safe play is a little baby fade that hugs the right side. Shot number two should be short of the creek that guards the front of a kidney-shaped green. (Only the bold and not-so-brilliant go for it in two.) There are plenty of other impressive holes on this course as well, originally designed in 1960 by the legendary golf-course architect Geoffrey Cornish and just renovated by world-class designer Ron Garl.
Wyndhurst Golf & Club
No. 3 • Par 4 • 263 yards
This short par 4 defines the thrill of a risk-reward hole: Conservative players can lay up with a short iron in hand, while long hitters can challenge the green, which has four menacing bunkers guarding it. It’s just one of the many exciting holes you’ll find at this championship golf course nestled in the heart of the Berkshires, designed nearly 100 years ago by the famed duo of Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek with tree-lined fairways and contoured greens spread across rolling western Massachusetts terrain.
The Preserve Sporting Club & Residences
Richmond, Rhode Island
No. 3 • Par 3 • 155 yards
What’s short, intimidating, yet still enjoyable to play? No, it’s not a blow whistle or a kazoo—it’s the third hole at the Preserve, according to director of grounds Dan Golding. “It requires a tee shot over water to a small, kidney-shaped green surrounded by bunkers. Hit a slightly lofted club with plenty of carry, or you’ll find the pond, where members and guests are known to fish for bass, not Titleists,” he suggests.
The Mountain Course at Spruce Peak
No. 15 • Par 4 • 340 yards
Spruce Peak’s course is a low-key Vermont treasure, featuring a rugged, likable design with an 1,800-foot elevation that offers bird’s-eye views of Stowe Valley and Peregrine Lake—not to mention rocky outcroppings and wildlife. The most exceptional hole is No. 15, which requires a 175-yard carry over a spectacular rock face that’ll leave you with a short-iron approach
and the pro advises not to go over the green.
Sunday River Golf Club
No. 16 • Par 3 • 142 yards
This may be ski country, but insiders know it’s also a golfer’s delight. Step onto this Robert Trent Jones Jr.–designed course that features 18 holes twisting through the thick and hilly Maine woods, and you’ll immediately understand why it’s one of our favorites. No. 16, in particular, is one dandy of a hole, according to head pro Jerry Roman: At first glance, the approach looks simple, playing downhill to a sloping green and expansive greenside bunker. But the difficulty (and memorability) factor is a 10—you just might walk off thinking you recorded your most pleasurable double bogey ever.