You’ve heard of the Northern Lights, the atmospheric light show that takes place in the upper reaches of the globe. New England has its Northern Delights, as in some of the nicest daily fee courses in the region.
This Northern Delights phenomenon takes place along a three-state stretch of the region--Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont--and it makes golfer’s minds dance with fantasies involving birdies and eagles.
Mid-summer is an ideal time to throw the sticks in the trunk and head north to enjoy a bevy of courses located in northern New England. The weather is cooler than in the southern part of the region and the courses are in the best shape they will be in all year. So don’t wait any longer to sample these Northern Delights.
Boothbay Country Club
In Boothbay, Me. is a “classic” course, measuring 6,306 yards from the tips and having a slope rating of 130, which tells you something about the challenge you’ll encounter at this par-70. Opened in 1921, none other than early American golf icon Francis Ouimet holds the original course record when it was a nine-hole track.
One of the toughest holes at Boothbay is the 435-yard 12th. The tee shot is from an elevated area and the drive must clear a pond and avoid wetlands. The second shot is to a green partially hidden from view from the fairway.
The Links at Outlook
Brian Silva designed The Links at Outlook in South Berwick, Me., a prime example of an “American links” routing. Silva incorporated random bunkering into his design to make the player think out each shot.
Only a short drive from the ocean, is mostly open to the elements, with each hole posing its own set of problems, whether they are fairway bunkers, sloping greens, or deep rough off the fairways.
While not overly long--only 6,423 from the back tees--The Links at Outlook can play difficult in wind. None of the par-fours on the back side measure over 388 yards. However, Silva placed a premium on accuracy off the tee and proper club selection on approach shots in order to stay out of trouble.
The toughest hole on the course is the 451-yard par-four second. And the other three of the first four holes--two par-fives and a 206-yard par-three, also test the player right out of the box.Nonesuch River Golf Club
In Scarborough, Me. is a scenic, 6,300-yard, par-70 layout designed by Tom Walker, who created a course that, while not long, demands thoughtful approaches to each hole and accurate placement off the tee and on shots to the greens.
The eighth hole is one of the toughest par-fours on the course. It measures 413 yards from the tips and has heavy rough, two ponds and two bunkers guarding the putting surface.
The 10th hole, a 492-yard par-five, is reachable in two for big hitters but is not without its dangers. The 13th, a 397-yard par-four, is considered the course’s signature hole. A well-struck tee shot left of fairway bunkers will get you around or past the 150-yard marker. The approach is to a wide, somewhat shallow green.
The 18th is a solid finisher, playing 435 yards from the back markers. The tee shot must reach a plateau in the fairway to shorten the second shot.Point Sebago Resort
In Casco, Me. occupies 775 acres along the shores of Sebago Lake. Point Sebago’s course has been ranked number one in southern Maine by Golf Digest and one of the top 20 golf courses in New England by the New England PGA Professionals.
Designed by renowned golf course architects George Sargent and Philip Wogan, this scenic par-72 course covers 7,002 yards and has a slope rating of 135.
Point Sebago has two of the best finishing holes you’ll find anywhere.
The 17th is a demanding, uphill 202-yard par-three has a green that sits in a grassy hollow with a bunker guarding the front of the green and pot bunkers to the left.
The 18th is a par-five that measures 527 yards from the back markers and the putting surface can be reached in two. But the drive must be to the right side of the fairway for the proper view in, and there’s a small pond that guards the green. The smart play is a lay-up second shot to set up a wedge into the wide green.
The golf course
in Parsonsfield, Me. is a pleasing combination of the old and new.
The club’s original nine was designed in 1918 by Lawrence Van Etten, who laid out a number of East Coast courses, including the original Wykagyl Course in New Rochelle, New York. The second nine was added in 1988 and designed by Silva. The front nine was updated several years ago to bring its greens up to USGA standards and other improvements have been made throughout the course.
The course straddles the Maine-New Hampshire state line and on two holes you tee off in one state and putt in another.
One of the best holes on the layout is the 530-yard par-five sixth that is nicknamed “Lakeside.” The hole has a lake in play on the right side and offers nice views of the surrounding countryside.
The 11th hole, a downhill 175-yard par-three, again offers a superb view of the lake, which you can see from 14 of the course’s holes.The Shattuck Golf Club
Is an extreme playing challenge located in Jaffrey, N.H.
Shattuck has earned a reputation as one of the sternest tests of golfing ability in the country. The layout was carved out of granite, rock and mature woodlands and demands a thoughtful approach to every shot on every hole. The course plays 6,764 yards from the tips and has a slope of 153. The fifth, sixth and seventh form perhaps the toughest brace of holes you’ll find anywhere. The fifth and sixth are 612-yard and 564-yard par-fives respectively, and the seventh is a 200-yard par-three.
You just can’t pull driver out of the bag and hit away at The Shattuck. It’s target golf and you have to think out every shot, use the yardage guide, and hit to spots.Owl’s Nest Resort and Golf Club
In the White Mountains of New Hampshire boasts some of the finest views in the region and the golf course has been rated one of the top 100 “must plays” in New England.
From the moment you drive up to drop your clubs off and prepare to start your round, the panoramic beauty of the area hits you. The clubhouse at Owl’s Nest sits atop a knoll surrounded by mountain views everywhere you look. The golf course is top notch, and the views are stunning.
The course can be divided into three sections: the first six holes surrounding the clubhouse feature a links style routing. Mounding on the perimeter of the holes bring stray drives back into the short grass, a nice plus for average to less-than-average players.
The middle six holes wander through fields and around a four-acre pond, which makes accuracy on several holes a must.
And the final third of the course sits atop “Sunrise Hill,” and offers stunning mountain views and challenging shot values.
The course plays 6,818 yards from the tips, but there are four other sets of tees to meet the playing abilities of all visitors.
The number one handicap hole is the 542-yard fourth, a par-five that demands superb accuracy both off the tee and on the layup second shot. The hole is made tougher by the pond that sits on the right side of the green.Hanover Country Club
On the campus of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire is a college-owned, semi-private course that dates back to 1922 when the famous Orrin Smith designed this classic layout. Ron Pritchard gave the course a redo in 2001.
The rolling, wooded layout plays 6,467 yards from the tips and is full of fabulous holes where shot making is at a premium.
The 362-yard par-four sixth hole can be played any number of ways off the tee, with the approach shot needing to hit the green in order not to roll back down off a sloped apron that fronts the putting surface.
The 17th hole is a par-five, a par-four or a par-three, depending upon what set of tees you choose. As a par-five at 517 yards, the tee shot is critical as you will need to hit it about 220 yards and favor the left center of the fairway. The second shot is a carry over a waste area and only the longest hitters will try and reach the green in two. Brattleboro Country Club
Located in the town that gave it its name, was first established in 1914 and was known for many years as one of the premier courses in the lower portion of the Vermont.
Brattleboro received a facelift a few years back that freshened the track and turned it once again into a pure golf experience. The course plays a little over 6,500 yards from the tips and features rolling, tree-lined fairways with some elevation change.
The second hole, a 532-yard par-five, has water right of the fairway to mess with your tee shot and then a large bunker and water left of the green.
The sixth is a drivable 260-yard par-four, and the seventh is another good par-five, playing 507 yards from the tips, with the layup, or second shot if you try for the putting surface in two, complicated by a pond that runs up to the green.Contact Informationwww.boothbaycountryclub.com