Wayne Stiles remodeled the original 9-hole layout at Brunswick Golf Club in the early 1920s then Geoff Cornish and his Canadian partner Bill Robinson added another nine in 1964 to create the 18-hole layout that’s still in play today.
In The Life and Work of Wayne Stiles, authors Bob Labbance and Kevin Mendik write: “although on relatively flat terrain for a Stiles course, there are several classic Stiles features, among them the high shelf green on the 10th hole, and the strategic mound at the front left of the green on the par five 16th.
Many of the holes require a well-struck ball thread through a narrow opening in front of the green. Even for Stiles aficionados, don’t miss the Geoff Cornish front nine, which has back to back par threes (4 & 5) that share a pond.”
Date of Play: 10/20/21 - It had been a few years since I had played Brunswick and the first time since a series of renovations had occurred in the past few years.
This return to one of my local haunts was highlighted by the excellent fall conditioning. The course appeared and played like a tremendous amount of care had been shown by a hardworking greens keeping team.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the welcome I received as a guest. Prior experiences and stories from other locals typically categorize Brunswick as having a staff and membership that claims a welcoming environment, but only on paper. I was glad to feel welcome on this day as it added to my experience.
The best part of the front nine was the hole sequence. I loved playing two threes and two fives in a row. Just amazing quirk and fun.
The back nine is a largely untouched Wayne Stiles original. Him and his apprentice, John Van Kleek, have littered their genius across a number of New England courses and this is a thriving sample. The land and features were clearly shaped in a bygone era, giving the back a timeless charm.
The course played at about 4:50 pace on 18-holes which seemed rather slow for the size of the ball park. I look forward to returning and am hopeful for a quicker round.
Maine is a fascinating state. It is a place that takes equal pride in its heritage and its modern, progressive spirit. A similar dichotomy can be found on many Vacationland courses. In the state golf association’s book titled “The Game Has Come to Stay,” longtime seasonal resident and former president George H.W. Bush describes the game there as “timeless.” So many designs in Maine stand the test of time for being unassuming, yet distinct.
Brunswick Golf Club is one such example. The club’s first holes were built in 1898 on a property lacking any dramatic features. From an aerial photograph, one might assume the minimalist layout is straightforward. However, thanks to the willingness of various architectural contributors to break from stale design norms, Brunswick Golf Club presents a memorable round.
This unconventional flair is best captured by Brunswick’s many half-par holes. Too many modern courses employ prescribed, repetitive yardages. Brunswick is simple, yet full of variety. One such example comes at the 9th, a true three-shot beast which tips out at over 600 yards. It will test your nerves from tee to green. Another delightful oddity are the back-to-back par threes at four and five. The 4th plays slightly uphill, is flanked by a pond, and requires an aerial shot over a precarious bunker with what is likely your longest iron. The 5th, on the other hand, is only about 100 yards, downhill. The notion that one-shotters should not be consecutive is really nonsense; after all, it is done exceptionally well at Brunswick and another well-regarded course known as Cypress Point.
Simply put, Brunswick Golf Club is a charming place. With its proximity to the world-renowned L.L. Bean headquarters in Freeport, Brunswick is an easy round to incorporate in any trip up the Maine coast.