Private courses you can play on Stowe, Vermont golf vacations

If you're starting to think about a golf vacation when things get really hot in July and August, I have an idea:  Stowe, Vermont.

Not only does Stowe, located in the northern third of the state, make for a classic, New England getaway, it features several top-quality, private courses that quietly allow non-member play.

Two of the best are the Stowe Mountain Club and The Country Club of Vermont, both graded "A-" by the hard-to-please editors of Golf Odyssey.

Here's how you can play them. 

The Stowe Mountain Club grants non-member access to guests of the neighboring Stowe Mountain Lodge (which was nice, but didn't quite have its act completely together when Golf Odyssey's editors visited).

The course, a beautiful alpine layout by Bob Cupp, has received numerous "best new course" accolades since opening in 2007.

And while it's only 6,411 yards from the tips, and its par fours and par fives are tantalizingly short, its slope rating is a hefty 141.

Indeed, what Stowe Mountain lacks in distance, it makes up for in shot-making requirements (including many forced carries) as the holes cling to the mountainside and sport jaw-dropping views, especially on the front nine.

The green fee is upwards of $200, but the Stowe Mountain Club delivers a posh, private club experience.

When the editors of Golf Odyssey last visited the uncrowded course, they said: "The fairways were like velvet and the greens immaculate" and "we were impressed by the staff's attentiveness throughout the day."

The other top private course playable on Stowe, Vermont golf vacations is the Country Club of Vermont.

It's an immaculately groomed, Graham Cooke design located 10 miles south in Waterbury Center (and tantalizingly close to the Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory).

Here, non-member play is granted to guests of the Trapp Family Lodge, Topnotch Resort, and Stoweflake Resort, at a rate of $175-$200.

Although this varied, rhythmic layout cannot match the fabulous panoramas of Stowe Mountain Club, every test on this still quite stunning layout is strong and interesting.

Plus, the course is delightfully devoid of course-side housing and its multiple tee boxes (which stretch the layout from 4,811 to 6,791 yards) ensure long as players can handle sidehill lies, tall grass off the fairway, and dramatic-sometimes excessive-contours on the greens.

If you choose to play here on your Stowe, Vermont golf vacation, consider walking the course just like a high percentage of members do. The editors of Golf Odyssey say you'll have, "a more enjoyable time than those who use hand carts or motorized trolleys."

With courses like this accessible to outside play, it's no wonder that, despite being better known as an eastern ski capital, Stowe receives three times more visitors in summer than winter.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine,, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.

Maybe so. I would think that once any business get used to charging a certain amount, it's difficult, if not impossible, to drop prices.

Thanks for the info. The problem is that the green fees are way more than I want to pay. The Golf industry is kidding themselves. That's why private clubs in my area are struggling to retain members.

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Private courses you can play on Stowe, Vermont golf vacations