It’s a little known fact that less than a third of over 400 Donald Ross layouts were actually visited by the architect before they opened for play. The course at Manchester Country Club is one that he did see, opening in 1923, and its tree-lined holes are routed across 116 acres of a rather flat landscape where water impacts at eight of the holes on the scorecard.
The club has hosted the New Hampshire Open nine times since its inauguration in 1930 and one of the more distinguished golfers to win this competition was South African Bobby Locke, who claimed the 26th edition of the event at Manchester in 1959.The short par four 6th is a favourite hole for many golfers on this understated layout but the stronger back nine throws up a number of testing holes, including the 530-yard 11th (played as stroke index 1) and the 447-yard 17th, where a creek crosses the fairway as it heads toward the green.
Manchester Country Club is an original Donald Ross design that has been undergoing renovations that are expected to be completed in 2023.
The first hole is not welcoming. It punches you in the nose. A long narrow straightaway 428 yard tree lined par four. As with many Ross designs, the further one gets from the tee the narrower the fairway becomes. Thankfully, the short par 5 2nd seems like dessert. At 451 yards it is definitely reachable. The left is very wooded, so favor the right. The fairway ends about 60 yards short of the green. Play your second accordingly. The 3rd is a 220 yard par 3 with three bunkers. The 4th is an interesting par 4. There is a stream that slices across the fairway, from the tips it is about 250 yards out. There is also a diagonal cross bunker starting about 35 yards in front of the greens left side running at 45 degrees to the right side of the green. Oh, don’t forget the three greenside bunkers. Good hole. The 5th is another long par 3 with two front bunkers, right and left. The short par 4 sixth is a birdie oppty. Decent drive will give you a flip wedge to a green with bunkers left and right. The 7th is a dogleg right with a bunker on the inside elbow. Middle of the fairway is the way to go. A stream cuts across about 120 yards from the green with front bunkers left and right. The 8th is very benign. Other than trees left, there are no hazards. The par 5 9th may be the tightest hole on the course. Big hitters can get home in two. Couple of fairway bunkers left and the obligatory two front right and left.
The back starts with a goodie birdie chance. Hole leans a little left and that side also has the thickest trees. Favor the right off the tee and there is only one greenside bunker right. The 11th is an S shaped 530 yard par 5. It is tight. You can drive thru the fairway, best tee shot is a high draw. If you can follow up a high draw with a high fade you are in luck. Otherwise play it as a 3 shotter. The 12th is a straightaway par 4. However, the fairway runs out into a ravine about 100 yards from the green. The 13th is the shortest hole on the course, slight water carry with bunkers short, right and two pot bunkers left. The 14th is a slight dogleg right. You can drive thru the fairway so pick your yardage accordingly. Green side bunkers left and right. The 15th is a fun hole. A real short par 4 at 302 the challenge is the fairway hourglasses about 70 yards short of the green. This green is also protected by six bunkers. The 16th is a 220 yard par 3, slight carry over water to a kidney shaped green. The 17th is a long par four with OB right. A stream crosses the fairway about 120 yards out and the green has two bunkers left and right. The finishing hole is a dogleg right with fairway bunkers on the inside elbow. However, you want to be left of them. These bunkers had been removed years ago but where reinstated under Ron Forse’s watchful eye.
Good not great. A couple of fun holes, but fairly predictable.