With the Green Mountains as a backdrop, Brattleboro Country Club offers so many panoramic views and scenic woodland vistas that one could conceivably cry "distraction by dreamy landscape" for any errant shots or mishit drives. I did. Several times.
It's the kind of classic woodland track that undulates across sloping meadows, then winds through picturesque pine groves and into forest clearings. there's the kind of variety I love in a course, the kind that presents myriad challenges... and rewards creativity. It's definitely a course one could play again and again without risk of boredom. I actually couldn't decide on a favorite hole, in fact, what I really liked was the mélange of perspectives and styles.
The course at Brattleboro Country Club has a long and colorful history. Like the state of Vermont, where earthy and elegant live side-by-side, and antique mixes perfectly with modern, the golf course gracefully combines old and new. In 1930, golden age golf architect Wayne E. Stiles redesigned the original 2,754-yard nine-hole layout created by three-time U.S. Open runner-up Tom MacNamara in 1914. An expansion brought the course up to 18 holes in 2000. That was designed by Steve Durkee, a VT native who's name has become synonymous with course design in the state. Clearly, Brattleboro is a course that's been shaped as much by the design influences of different eras as by natural elements and topography. The dichotomy is perfectly described by David Gould in a piece he wrote about golf in Vermont.
"The first at Brattleboro is a stout, dignified straight two-shotter with a thin creek to carry or land short of. No. 2 is a dramatic, just slightly awkward uphill-then-uphill dogleg right. The front side swings down and around from that high point, down corridors of rolling timberland. The best par-3 at Brattleboro is No. 13, which requires a long iron, a hybrid or a utility wood but stirs you to really rip the shot. You know you’re going to play from somewhere along the broad, interesting greensite—from back at the tee you can see a variety of possible shots sprawled out in front of you like a display in the Vermont Country Store—including little downhill pitches from chancy but not overly penal rough."
When you've finished your round, The Fairway Tavern is right there waiting, in a charming yellow farm house with a delightful patio out back. The bartender at the pub was a proud local and shared stories of growing up in southern VT. They involved lots of snow.
My plan is to head back up to Brattleboro in autumn and walk the course on a clear early October day when the placid green landscape of early summer has become a vivid autumn palette of blazing red, orange and gold. They say Vermont's golf season can be as short as six or seven months. That may or may not be true, but in any case you can be sure they'll be good months, especially at Brattleboro Country Club.