By Kathy Bennett
One of the many privileges of living in Mount Washington Valley is the wealth of breath-taking golf courses within a short driving distance of North Conway. This proximity allows for impromptu twilight rounds of golf after work, or the ability to grab a quick 9 on a Saturday morning after tending to other more mundane household commitments.
This weekend we had the pleasure of golfing at not one but two classic golf courses. Friday afternoon was one of the first summery days this spring so I hit the links with a girlfriend at the North Conway Country Club. The grand dame of the Mount Washington Valley, this course was established in 1895 and offers golfers views of Cranmore, Mt. Washington and the Presidential and Moat mountain ranges.
Teeing off for the the first green sets the tone as the elevated tee boxes afford a drop dead gorgeous view of the Moats. If the views don’t distract your swing, the train whistle might. The course offers what might possibly be the region’s only working railroad track cutting a swath between the tee and the fairway thanks to the Conway Scenic Railway which abuts NCCC property.
Greens were in exceptional shape for early May but then NCCC is known for its superior commitment to maintaining its grounds. Other delights golfers will find is adjacent farmland (Friday, it was rows of plowed fresh dirt) and the Saco River (later in the summer you can hear the hooting and hollering of reveling tubers and kayakers floating downstream). Vacationers playing NCCC should be aware tee times are a must, and proper attire is required, unlike some of the other more casual resort courses in town.
Saturday morning brought us further north to Androscoggin Valley Country Club, about 20 miles north of North Conway in Gorham, NH. A scenic drive through Pinkham Notch up Route 16 was a lovely preview to the morning’s round of golf at AVCC. The course is located on Route 2 in the Great North Woods (take a right after Route 16 enters Gorham and it’s just a few miles down on the left).
The location is breathtaking with ledge cliffs the backdrop to the north, and the Presidential range to the south and west. The mighty Androscoggin River is nearby and water is in play throughout the course – bring extra balls as it has special magnetic qualities, or so I tell myself.
While the course was originally designed in 1922, beginning in 2002, the golf course was redesigned to give an extra 600+ yards to the playing field. Hazards were added and the existing ones improved to make the course more challenging. That being said, it was still a welcoming course for beginners and women alike.
AVCC greens’ were in fine shape for early May as well, another indication that the Winter of 2016 was kinder to golf courses than ski areas in northern New Hampshire. In fact AVCC opened in April this year – amazing for a golf course north of the Notch. Check their website and ads in the local papers as they often reward savvy golfers with specials.
And to answer one question that is on everyone’s lips this time of year – black flies. Let’s just say wind is your friend this time of year. Friday’s round at NCCC, in the dead calm of the late afternoon sun, was a little on the buggy side. DEET bug spray is in order, unless you have a greater ability to ignore them than I. Saturday’s breeze kept our round at AVCC virtually bug free. The take away? Don’t let northern New Hampshire’s infamous black flies keep you from a springtime round of golf. And don’t worry – the mosquitoes will chase away the black flies before you know it.