Situated between the Green Mountain National Forest and the White Mountain National Forest in the Upper Valley section of the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee region, the 18-hole layout at Montcalm Golf Club is set within 350 acres of hardwood forest in the mountain area of Enfield. The course was all of four years in the making, finally debuting in 2004.
Some of the more memorable holes here include the par three 5th, which plays to a long, offset green that tilts from back to font, the short par four 8th, where the hole veers sharply left, with bunkers all down the right flank of the fairway, and the 415-yard 16th, which runs uphill the entire length of the hole.
GF Sargent Design commented as follows:
“Montcalm presented many unique challenges before we could achieve a level of completion that both the course ownership and we were satisfied with. Our first main challenge was the very remoteness of the location. Prior to the creation of the course, Enfield was a secluded location and our teams were tasked with providing the optimum in efficiency and planning to ensure that we would have both the supplies and resources needed to complete the project in a timely manner.
The terrain itself also proved an interesting but inviting challenge. Our adherence to the Donald Ross philosophy of trying to maintain as much of the land’s natural character as possible, required us to find creative solutions to using the many rolling hills to our advantage. While the natural terrain could easily challenge a PGA professional, we needed to ensure playability for all levels of golfer, while still providing each with an opportunity for challenge.Finally, while we enjoy the challenge, the very scale of the project was nothing less than daunting to many. Creating an 18-hole course where previously there was nothing but hills and valleys required an immense level of strategic planning. Our experience in designing and building large scale projects was essential in achieving the goals of completing the project in a cost-effective and timely manner.”
Montcalm Golf Club is another one of the newer courses developed in New Hampshire in the last 30 odd years. The opening hole is a welcoming uphill dogleg right par four. Fairway bunkers and OB left, take an extra club on the approach. Wonderful northwest views from the first green which is probably the highest point on the course. The 2nd is a short par 3 with bunkers front right. Not really a memorable hole, but when I played there was a gaggle? flock? Herd? of turkeys in front of the green. I just looked it up, a group of turkeys is called a rafter. Who knew? The 3rd is a demanding long downhill dogleg right. Favor left of center off the tee to ensure that you are not blocked out. There is a small water hazard and bunker front left. The first par 5 is a reverse S. It is reachable in two but there is OB left. A good risk/reward hole. The 5th is a real short par 3 with a ravine gunch carry. A very thin redan green with a bunker front right. The 6th is the number one handicap and the longest hole on the course. The drive is over a ravine, the hole bends right and there are bunkers on the inside elbow. The hole narrows as you get closer to the green, particularly inside of 150 yards on the left. The 7th thru 9th are good birdie oppties. The 7th is a short uphill par 4 that leans left with a long multi-tiered green. The 8th is a sharp dogleg left. Fairway bunker right, that really should not come into play. Consider leaving your driver in the bag. Off the tee right is better, you can cut the corner a bit, but there is really no benefit to doing so. The green is elevated so take an extra club and there are three bunkers going up the hill short right. A fun hole. The 9th has a lovely view of Mt Ascutney from the tee box. Favor left of center off the tee, even though there is a fairway bunker left. The fairway narrows the closer you get to the green. A decent drive will leave you with an attack iron to a green with bunker left and a couple right.
The back opens with the longest par 4. It is downhill the whole way with a fairway bunker left and has multi-level fairway landing areas. The 11th is a greenlight par 5 and is ranked the 16th easiest hole on the course. The downhill fairway ends abruptly with a ravine in front of the green. This is a wide but very narrow green. This should have been a fun hole, but I mucked it up. The 12th is also a birdie oppty. A short downhill left leaning par 4. It is rated the easiest hole on the course, has a fairway bunker right and gets tighter and tighter as you approach the green. Shots left of the green may bound off the moguls onto the green. However, avoid the nefarious pot bunkers in front. The 13th is a long left leaner with a fairway bunker right. Avoid the green side bunkers left. The 14th is a par five that tilts right. Off the elevated tee favor the right side. This is another hole that narrows the closer you get to the green. Possible to get home in two but the rest of us should pick our preferred yardage in. This has one of the more interesting greens on the course as there is a huge drop front to back, greenside bunkers left and right and the width of the green in the back is about half of the front. While the back pin tormented me, in a twisted kind of way it was fun. The 15th is a long par 3 and from the tee you can see the bunker left, but there is a blind pot bunker behind it! Favor the right side. The 16th is a difficult par four that turns left at the end. It is uphill and the green has a collection bowl in the middle. The 17th is a long par 3 with the green sitting on a ledge with a steep drop left. There are two bunkers left. The 18th is a straight away par four. While the omnipresent woodlands surround the hole the only real trouble is a greenside bunker right
A good course that I recommend, however, it is not walker friendly.
George Sargent, the architect of Montcalm, did a brilliant job. He did not create a brilliant golf course, but given the difficult piece of land he had to work with, Sargent did quite well just to fit in 18 holes. The highlight of his work is the greens. Nicely contoured, they provide a delightful challenge in both reading the breaks and then executing the shot. The finest sequence occurs on holes 15-17 where golfers get to enjoy Redan, thumbprint and Biarritz green complexes in succession.
As soon as one depresses the accelerator on one’s golf cart, the sound of a gasoline engine makes it quite clear that Montcalm was not built with walking in mind. Sargent takes some of the hilliness out of the design by having the uphill sections take the player from the green to the next tee so that the following hole is flat or downhill. (The tenth hole drop must be 400 feet.) Only thrice (at the 1st, 7th and 16th) is the player forced to play an uphill shot. And the reward at the first is an outstanding view of Killington Mountain in Vermont. Nontheless, only 5 holes allow the golfer the option of playing a running or aerial approach. And the long drives from green to tee may not be arduous on the body but their interruption is arduous on enjoyment.