Thursday, June 14, 2018

Maine/NH Trip Review Part One


My wife and I decided to head to the last state in the continental 48 that I have not played golf in, Maine, for our annual big adventure trip.  We designed the trip around visits to the top courses in Maine and New Hampshire and some little known Ross courses.  We also made a mandatory visit to Acadia National Park (seen above).  As always the trip was amazing and we hope to get back again soon.

After we landed in Boston, our trip began in the mountains of New Hampshire at two Ross courses right next to each other, Bethlehem Country Club and Maplewood Golf Resort in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. First up was Bethlehem Country Club.
7th Hole

18th Hole
Following a nice warm-up round at Bethlehem, we made the one-mile drive to Maplewood Resort for another fun public Ross course.  The current routing is clearly not Ross as I doubt he would have featured a par 5 followed by a par 6!
6th Hole

11th Hole
1st looking back at clubhouse
interesting sign very close to well-traveled public road
Day two of our trip began at the Donald Ross designed Mount Washington Golf Club in Carroll, New Hampshire.  The course is overlooked by the historic Mount Washington Hotel.
5th Hole

7th Hole with historic hotel in background

15th Hole
In keeping with the Ross theme our second course on day two was Lake Kezar Country Club in Lowell, Maine.  Lake Kezar has nine holes of Ross, luckily the front nine, as we were short on time and only had time for nine holes.
4th Hole

5th Hole
The third course on day two was our first "modern" course of the trip, Sunday River Golf Club in Newry, Maine designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.  Of the big three Maine public courses (Sunday, Sugarloaf, Belgrade) I enjoyed Sunday River the most.  It was a mountain course that wasn't too severe and the views were amazing as you would expect.
4th Hole

13th Hole

14th Hole
Day three of our trip began at the perennial #1 ranked course in Maine, Sugarloaf Golf Club in Carrabassett Valley, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
10th Hole

11th Hole

14th Hole
After a brisk morning round in the mountains we made our way back toward the coast for a stop at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club, a 1998 Clive Clark design in Belgrade, Maine.
8th Hole

9th and 18th holes
Since one of my goals for this trip was to play every Donald Ross course I could, a stop at nearby Augusta Country Club in Manchester, Maine was mandatory for our third round on day three.  Augusta features nine holes of Donald Ross and nine holes of Stiles & Van Kleek.  Due to time constraints, I only had time to play the Ross back nine which was a shame because the first hole looked very enticing -see to the right>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
15th Hole

10th and 17th holes with 12 mile lake in the background
After an overnight stay in Bar Harbor, our fourth day began at Kebo Valley Golf Club in Bar Harbor, Maine.  Kebo is the oldest club in Maine, established in 1888 and is one of the three best courses in Maine in my opinion.
4th Hole

6th Hole

Infamous 17th Hole where President Taft made a 26.  
After our round at Kebo we began our exploration of Acadia National Park.
View from Cadillac Mountain

Thunder Hole

Jordan Pond
Following some amazing hiking in Acadia, we made the short drive to Northeast Harbor Golf Club.  Northeast Harbor's original nine was designed by Arthur Lockwood with the other nine holes designed by Herbert Strong a few years later.  Northeast had one of the best natural routings I have ever seen, which is truly impressive when you realize it was completed almost a hundred years ago.
6th Hole

13th Hole

16th Hole
Following a great day of golf and hiking in Acadia, we made a two-and-a-half hour drive to our hotel in Freeport, Maine where we would be staying the rest of the trip.  Day five of the trip started with the Arnold Palmer designed Golf Club of New England in Stratham, New Hampshire. The course featured one of the best sets of par 3's in New England.
8th Hole

11th Hole

17th Hole
Day five continued at Wentworth-By-The-Sea Country Club which features a handful of holes designed by Donald Ross and contributions from many other architects.
4th Hole

7th Hole

14th Hole, the first of four consecutive Ross holes
Our third course on day five was The Ledges Golf Club in York, Maine, designed by local Maine architect Brad Booth.
8th Hole


17th Hole
That concludes part one of our Maine trip review.  In part two we will see some more wonderful Ross courses, some old classics and a few modern courses to round out our adventure.

Monday, May 28, 2018

New England Donald Ross Trip Review

One of my many goals in golf is to play every golf course designed by Donald Ross.  Mr. Ross designed approximately 375 golf courses.  I'm currently at 148 courses played so I have a ways to go.  In order to accomplish this goal I will be taking several short trip to New England, Ohio, and Michigan.  I just returned from one of these trips where I played nine Ross courses in four days.  It was a wonderful trip and I was privileged to see a nice variety of courses from the greatest golf architect of all time.

The trip began at Longmeadow Country Club in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.  Longmeadow is a 1922 Donald Ross design.  Longmeadow is one of the hardest Ross courses with a large number of 420+ yard par 4's.  Recent tree removal has really improved the site lines and vistas on the course.
3rd & 7th Holes
10th Hole
16th Hole
 After Longmeadow, I made the 45 minute drive down to Hartford, Connecticut to play Wampanoag.  Wampanoag is a 1924 Donald Ross design that doesn't get the attention that nearby Hartford Golf Club does.  The course has very good bones and could be really great with a proper restoration.
6th Hole
16th Hole

18th Hole
Day two of the trip began at Shennecossett Golf Course in Groton, Connecticut.  Shennecossett is a 1916 Donald Ross municipal course that sold the property containing the original 5th to 7th holes in 1997.  They hired Mark Mungeam to design three new holes near the water.  You will not be seeing pictures of those holes as I prefer to focus on the Ross holes
12th Hole

13th Hole
18th Hole
Day two continued at another public Ross course, Winnapaug Country Club in Westerly, Rhode Island.  Winnapaug was designed in 1922 and is one of those courses that falls into the "good bones" category of Ross courses.  It has not been well preserved but you can still see the potential.
3rd Hole

15th Hole
The final course on Day two was the course that this entire trip was planned around, The Misquamicut Club in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.  Misquamicut was re-designed by Ross in 1923.  Misquamicut has a significant architectural pedigree.  Golden Age architects Willie Park Jr, Tom Bendelow, and Seth Raynor all worked on the course before Ross completed his re-design.  Misquamicut is a course I have been trying to play for 15 years.  The season at Misquamicut is very short and I have been in the area a couple times too early (late April) or too late (October) in the season to have the opportunity to play it.  The course was well worth the wait.  Misquamicut is one of the most fun golf courses I have ever played!
3rd & 4th Holes

8th Hole

10th Hole

11th Hole

Garage & Driveway you drive through
Day three began at Agawam Hunt Club in Rumford, Rhode Island.  Agawam is a 1911 Ross re-design and is a hodgepodge of different architects and features one of the most unique routings I have ever seen.  You literally drive through a garage, down a driveway and across a busy street to get to and from holes 8 through 14.

3rd Hole

7th Hole

16th Hole
The second course I played on day three was Sakonnet Golf Club in Little Compton, Rhode Island.  Ross designed Sakonnet in 1922 and spent many summers just down the road, and like Pinehurst #2, he constantly tinkered with his design.
2nd Hole

4th Hole

8th Hole
18th Hole

The last course I played on day three was Point Judith Country Club in Narragansett, Rhode Island.  Donald Ross re-designed nine holes at Point Judith in 1927.  The front nine is very much a links course while most of the back nine is in the trees.
7th Hole

15th Hole

18th Hole
The final course I played on the trip was Knickerbocker Country Club in Tenafly, New Jersey.  Knickerbocker is a 1914 Donald Ross design with significant alterations by Geoffrey Cornish in the 1970's.  I will admit that of the courses I played on this trip, I knew the least about Knickerbocker.  I have played many courses in New Jersey but not in the very northern part where Knickerbocker is located.
5th Hole

11th Hole

16th Hole
My final thought on this trip is that I continue to be amazed at how good Ross was at routing a golf course.  I saw a wide variety of property on the trip and every single time Ross was able to route a course that maximized the land.   During the trip a friend called me and we were having a conversation about the modern minimalist architects and how even though their courses are great you eventually start to see a lot of sameness in their designs.  That is not the case with Donald Ross.  I played nine courses he designed or re-designed and I never saw the same thing.  He is truly the greatest.

Maine/NH Trip Review Part One

My wife and I decided to head to the last state in the continental 48 that I have not played golf in, Maine, for our annual big adventure...