MANCHESTER, Vermont – People across the USA visit Vermont to enjoy the natural beauty of the Green Mountain state. Dense forests with pine trees, sparkling streams and all this serene land is surrounded by the Green Mountains. And nestled in the hills and valleys of this beautiful state are some of the best golf courses in the country. At the top of the list is Manchester Country Club, located in the southern part of Vermont.
Geoffrey Cornish was a master of golf course architecture and designed over 250 courses around the world. Some of his best golf courses are in New England, and Manchester Country Club is truly one of his exceptional creations.
Manchester C.C., a private course that was opened in 1967, is surrounded by the Green Mountains. The Battenkill River meanders through the course, and ponds attract wildlife adding to the tranquil setting. Manchester is a special place to take on the challenge of this Cornish gem.
The front nine provides generous fairways allowing you to post a good score. The fairways are lush, and the greens are fast and true. One of the first things you notice is the pristine condition of the course. The superintendent at Manchester is Sean Monahan, who had previously worked at world-renowned courses like Myopia Hunt Club and Winged Foot. Sean took those skills he learned at these famous courses and incorporated them at Manchester Country Club.
Five sets of tees allow golfers of all skill levels to enjoy the golf course. The course plays 6,830 yards from the tips and a very manageable 4,400 from the front. The first hole is an easy 360 yards from the back tees. There are two par fives in the next three holes so be sure to stretch the golf muscles before you tee off. The real fun begins with the 210 yard par 3 6th hole with water guarding the green.
When you get to the back-nine the course transforms into a very challenging course with lots of options to conquer the holes. The 10th hole is only 330 yards from the tips, so you can be aggressive with a towering tee shot, but you need to contend with some wetlands. The 13th hole is a monster at 565 yards from the tips. A narrow fairway and water come into play on your second shot. Members refer to 13 as: “The Hardest Hole in Vermont.”
The fun continues on the 495-yard par-4 17th hole. Play the back tees and you see a large tree in the middle of the fairway. You can drive left, right, or over the top of the tree. And the finishing hole is a 410-yard par-4, an elevated tee looks out over a water hazard that rests about 175 yards out.
I was given a tour of the course by head pro Peter Weatherby. Peter has worked at some of the most exclusive golf courses including Jupiter Island and Old Sandwich. I asked him what he liked best about the course.
“I have played this course hundreds of times, and each time I see something new. New ways to play a hole or subtle elements of the course that makes it a challenge every time you tee it up here,” he said. “I like playing golf in a pastoral setting, and Manchester has created that kind of environment.”
The club has fulfilled the following categories as part of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for golf courses. Environmental Planning Outreach and Education, Water Conservation and Wildlife and Habitat Management. Plus, the superintendent Sean Monahan has received his environmental Planning Award.
The town of Manchester offers some wonderful attractions for visitors. Manchester offers some of the best fly-fishing in the country. If you are a novice don’t worry, Orvis fly-fishing school has taught thousands the art of fly-fishing and will help you land that beautiful trout.
Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abe Lincoln, also fell in love with Manchester. His first visit to Manchester was in 1864. He returned 40 years later and purchased almost 400 acres of land to build his home.The mansion Robert built is on a hill surrounded by the Vermont mountain range. You can visit the garden and mansion, and take a walk to visit a Pullman railroad car, or the goat dairy farm. If you have a bit of trouble getting around, a tram car circles the property and stops at all of the key spots on the estate.
The town looks like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Main Street, Manchester has a General Store, and a variety of shops offering unique items. If you are a lover of books, visit the Northshire Bookstore. You can find current books, or collectibles like Stephen King autographed novels. Northshire has over 300,000 books in their multi-level store, and if that is not enough for you, they have access to over 10 million titles.
If you want to stay a few days and are looking for a exceptional hotel, you should make a reservation at the Dorset Inn which is a short drive from Manchester. The quality of an Inn can be based on the number of years they have been in business. The Dorset Inn has been in business since 1796 when weary travelers arrived on horseback. The rooms have all the modern amenities without loosing the charm of the Inn.
The staff at the Inn are excellent and the food is superb. There is nothing like sitting in their tavern, wondering if George Washington stopped for a quick ale here, and enjoying farm-to-table cuisine perfectly prepared.
Manchester Vermont has it all. History, quaint inn’s, fly-fishing and golf, and all surrounded by the magnificent Green Mountains.