Review: Mount Washington Course

Course Name: Mount Washington Course

Designer: Donald Ross (1915), Brian Silva (2008, Restoration)

Location: Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

History: The Mount Washington Course is the signature course at the historic Mount Washington Resort in the White Mountains. Originally designed by Donald Ross in 1915, this course was the actually the second at the Resort with the 9-hole Mount Pleasant Course predating it in 1898. After years of neglect, Brian Silva restored the course to it’s former glory in 2008. The Mount Washington Course has hosted four New Hampshire Opens and the 2010 New England Open. Consistently ranked among the top courses in the golf-poor state of New Hampshire, Mount Washington owns the following accolades:

  • #1 Best Public Course in New Hampshire – Golf Magazine (2016)
  • #1 Best Public Course in New Hampshire – Golfweek (2018)

Conditions: 5/10, With a very short golf season, the conditions at Mount Washington are rather suspect with some beat up fairways and very slow greens. The bunker quality is generally very good and lined with a heather fescue.

Value: 6/10, The rates at Mount Washington vary quite a bit depending on the day of week, time, season, age, and whether you are staying at the resort or not. The most expensive rates are weekends in peak season at $109, but you can expect to pay somewhere around $70 at most other times, making for fair value.

Scorecard:

Tee                     Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Gold                   72          7004               73.7              124

Blue                  72           6400               70.3              122

White                72           5735               66.9              112

Red                    72          5246                70.0              119

Hole Descriptions: Before I start, I just want to say that this course contained some of the best holes I’ve ever played. A downhill tee shot to a fairly wide fairway begins your round. The green on this hole is well-bunkered and tiny. The second hole was a slide dogleg right that appeared much more severe from the tee box. Contrary to the first hole, this green has no bunkers, but is well-sloped, making chips exceedingly difficult. The third hole is a long straightforward par 4. It is imperative off the tee to miss a bunker about 220 yards on the right side of the fairway. The fourth hole is a great contrast to the long third hole. At just 300 yards, this hole is a true risk/reward short par 4. A smart play would be iron just short of a large bunker complex about 200 yards from the tee. I loved the 5th hole. A long par 3, this hole contains a large but challenging green. The backdrop of this hole is the picturesque Mount Washington Resort.

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The par 3 5th

The 6th hole is a good par 5 that reminded a lot of 17 at Wannamoisett. Straightaway, this hole has several cross bunkers strategically across the fairway.

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The 6th approach with the White Mountains in the background

The 7th hole is a short par 4 guarded by OB left and an elevated green. Length is the greatest defense on the par 4 8th. The green is also heavily sloped, making putting from the wrong side very difficult. The ninth hole is another beast. The tee box is way back in the woods and a creek goes down the middle of this two-tiered fairway.

The back 9 is the superior side at Mount Washington. Hole 10 was in pretty bad shape, but was a fantastic design. A forced carry with danger right, this hole goes straight uphill. No bunkers surround this green, but anything short will roll backwards about 50 yards.

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The 11th approach

In another great contrasting hole, the 11th is a downhill parallel par 5. Drives that miss two fairway bunkers will roll forever on this hole. Hole 12 takes you back up the hill with a blind tee shot. Out of bounds lines the left side of the hole, but you can bomb it right. Holes 13 and 14 are in my opinion the two best holes on this course. 13 is a long uphill par 4 that requires a forced carry. Neverending woods line the right side of this hole. You have a better chance of being mauled by a bear than finding your ball here.

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The fantastic uphill 13th
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The uphill 13th approach

Hole 14 is a long downhill par 3 that requires a well-struck ball to avoid the wasteland short right of this narrow green.

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The do-or-die par 3 14th

Hole 15 is a bit of a letdown after these two great holes at 315 yards. This hole is not really drivable due to a cross bunker before this green. The last of the par 3’s, 16 finishes a very impressive collection. At 200 yards, this green is well bunkered and weeds guard any hooked balls. Similar to 8, 17 is another long straightaway par 4 with a tricky sloped green. 18 is an interesting finishing hole. At just 350 yards from the blue tees, it’s not clear at first where to aim. A dogleg left, your drive must remain short of a creek crossing the fairway at about 260 yards. The clubhouse and patio are right behind this green, and I wonder how many skulled wedges have hit it!

General Comments: The clubhouse is fairly tiny and has a log cabin feel to it. The “true” clubhouse is the magnificent Mount Washington Resort seen in the background of many holes. Practice facilities include a driving range and small practice green near the 1st tee. Pace of play varied quite a bit – some holes we breezed through while others were quite slow.

Verdict: While the conditioning leaves a lot to be desired, the views, history, and classic Donald Ross design at Mount Washington are top notch and similar to what I imagine the Greenbrier feels like. I highly recommend a summer weekend at this gorgeous mountain retreat.

 

 


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