“Winnipesaukee” is the Abenaki Indian name for “lake around islands” and the course at Lake Winnipesaukee Golf Club became another “island” in the New Durham area when it opened for play in 1990. It’s a Clive Clark layout, one of several that the former Walker and Ryder Cup player has designed in the USA, with scenic fairways carved through dense forest and routed around extensive wetlands.
The front nine plays substantially longer than the back nine, thanks mainly to three par five holes (two of them back-to-back at the 7th and 8th) each measuring in excess of 550 yards. Both par threes at the 4th “Slick” and 6th “Turtle Shell” are terrific holes, played to tricky greens that rarely ever yield a birdie.On the back nine, the 159-yard 15th “Rockslide” is another fine short hole, where the small, bunker-ringed green sits 80 feet below the level of the tee, and it’s followed by a trio of woodland par fours that bring the routing back to the clubhouse.
Lake Winnipesaukee is an outstanding golf course. Warning, it is a very difficult course to walk. The first hole is a welcoming scenic short very downhill par 4. This of course means 9 is uphill. Favor the right off the tee to avoid the fairway bunker left. This will leave you with an attack wedge to a green protected by three bunkers. The first par five is only reachable by a few stalwarts. The landing zone for mortals is large. However, fairway bunkers left and two right start squeezing the hole. There is a dastardly blind pond on the right about 125 yards out. The green has two bunkers front right and two front left. The 3rd is a dogleg right and a good birdie oppty. There are bunkers on the inside elbow. Long hitters can carry them, I failed miserably. There is also a small pond left. Ideal tee line is just left of the bunkers. The approach is slightly uphill, but be wary of the false front. The first par three is long and downhill. The green is long and narrow with a half dozen or so bunkers surrounding it. Demanding par 3, nice to see it was rated the 9th toughest hole. The 5th is the number one handicap hole and is a dogleg left. A high draw off the tee is optimal. The approach is over gunch to a green with bunkers on each point of the compass. Tough hole, pars are earned there. The 6th is a mid-length slightly uphill par 3. One of the tougher greens that predominantly slopes front right to back left. The par 5 7th is a double dogleg. I suppose it is possible to get home in two. I had troubles getting there in four. Left off the tee will give you more options on the second shot. Swampland left the last 180 yards or so. Play it as a 3 shotter. After mucking up 7 I was not all that happy to see another par 5. The 8th is a dogleg left, uphill and is not reachable. Favor the right thru the green. The second shot is blind and the approach is to one of the smallest greens on the course with a long bunker front and left of the green. Turns out to be my favorite hole. Birdie! The front closes with a birdie oppty. The key is finding the fairway, pot bunkers right and more fairway bunkers left. Another green with bunkers on all quadrants.
The back starts with a birdie oppty, downhill short dogleg left. There are bunkers on both sides of the elbow and you can drive thru the fairway. Big hitters should consider laying up. The 1th is short par three with carry over water and prime swampland. There is a deep BAB short right and this green is wicked. Our group had 3 birdie putts and only made one par. The 12th is a good hole. Fairway bunkers eft will make you favor the right off the tee. This sets up an approach over the water hazard and bunker to the green. The 13th is a reachable par five. If you are going for it, aim at the right side of the left fairway bunkers. Otherwise stay right to the generous landing area. There is a creek in front of the green as well as three bunkers. Good risk/reward hole. The 14th is a dogleg left and is a good birdie oppty. Best line is the left side of the right fairway bunker. A rock carry to a green that is protected by three bunkers. The 15th is the shortest hole and is downhill. There is a BAB right, bunker front left and back. The 16th is an awesome unique hole. There are two completely disparate tee boxes. From the righthand tee box the hole is an uphill dogleg right. From the left tee it is a downhill dogleg left over a water hazard. This tee box is 90 degrees from the righthand tees. The green is protected with bunkers back right and front left. Interesting fun hole. I cheated and played it from both tees. Lot more fun from the left. The finishing holes will make you work. The 17th is a long uphill par 4 dogleg right. I barely made the fairway and had to hit a five wood, bunkers front right and back left. Really tough hole, certainly worthy of its number two handicap rating. The finishing hole is also an uphill dogleg right with fairway bunkers on the inside elbow. This one is much more manageable. Best line off the tee is just left of the fairway bunkers. Probably want to take an extra club to the elevated green, especially as a precaution against the deep front bunkers.
I really liked this course. Lot of character, fun holes, demanding holes and definitely an exhausting walk.