Northeast Harbor Golf Club began with nine holes in 1895, before moving to a new location in 1916 then developing a new 18-hole layout. Only one par four extends longer than 400 yards on an old-fashioned track measuring a mere 5,606 yards from the back tees.
Holes 1 to 6 and 13 to 15 were designed by Arthur Lockwood, with Herbert Strong setting out the second nine which came into play in 1925. These holes fell into disrepair during World War II but six were brought back into use in the mid-1970s.
Eventually, the final three holes were reinstated by Geoff Cornish through the generous donations of some summer residents and the hard work of other year-round residents. The par four 17th hole is now dedicated to all those who helped the club complete the expansion project.
Northeast Harbor should not be over looked. Yes, it is short, but it is a fun course in one of the most scenic settings in New England. The first hole is a short straightaway par four. The 2nd is also a short straightaway par four. Defintely, birdie holes. On the scorecard the 149 yard par three 4th looks benign. This hole is slightly uphill with a two-tiered green and four bunkers. Miss the green and par is in question. Hit the wrong tier, same thing. The first par five is downhill and reachable. The only real bad tee shot is one that goes into the woods left. Birdie hole. The fifth is a short par four, slight valley hole with a creek cutting across the fairway about 80 yards out at an angle. Trust me, lay up. This is also one of the tougher greens, being above the hole may not result in death, but….To put this hole in context, have you ever seen a 316 yard par four worthy of being the number three handicap hole? The 6th is the shortest par three with bunkers left and right. The 7th is the shortest par four and I would advise laying up. The hole slopes right to left and even landing on the right side off the tee, I was blocked out by trees on the left side. If you can hit your tee shot in the fairway it is a birdie hole. The 8th is a short downhill par three. I would strongly suggest taking one less club. The 9th is the longest par five and is a dogleg left. At 503 yards it is still reachable. The green is protected by front bunkers left and right.
The back starts with the last par five. Favor left of center off the tee to give yourself a go for it green light. The 11th is the number two handicap hole. Leaning left but uphill with a blind tee shot, you should favor the right off the tee. Do not think about it, take an extra club on the approach. The 12th is a mid-yardage par three with the green chiseled into a ledge. Everything will flow left. Favor the right and pay attention to the pin location on this hogback green. The 13th is a fun downhill par four. Yes, my first birdie. It plays downhill and while a creek does surround the green on three sides, there is usually about ten yards of leeway. The 14th is the longest par three at 210 yards. The good news is the green held my three wood quite nicely. The 15th is the longest par four. There is OB left and you can cut some of the distance off by favoring the right side. The 16th is the shortest par four and I would recommend laying up as the fairway runs out about 50 yards short of the elevated two-tiered green. I tried to drive it and was fortunate to have a good lie. Obviously, there is a a gap between my recommendations and my actual practice. The 17th is a slight dogleg right with the contour running right to left. Favor the right side off the tee. The 17th has one of the largest greens, it is two-tiered with a bunker front left. The 18th is a fun finishing hole. A short driveable par four. It bends right and has five bunkers, two greenside, one left and one right. A high draw solves the riddle off the tee.
This is a fun course that I would pay to play again.
With apologies to longer hitting readers, I confess that I like Northeast Harbor. Yes, the back tees measure only 5600 yards. And, yes, the longest par 4 is only 415 yards. And yes, the three par 5s are short. But many players will still have the opportunity to use many of their clubs as the five par 3s vary in distance from 127 to 210 and the uphill second shot on the dogleg par 5 ninth will likely require a fairway wood to get home in two. The greens are small, but with enough undulation to provide some challenge. Conditioning was fine in September 2020.
Half the holes are cut through forested land on the uphill part of the property and these are the strongest ones. During World War II, half the course was taken out of play. In the 1970s, six hole were restored and for a couple decades Northeast Harbor played as a 15 hole course. Eventually Geoffrey Cornish added three more holes and these are clearly different from the rest, with more bunkers than the other 15 put together. No doubt Cornish felt right at home in the hilly forested land, bringing him back to one of his earliest gigs, serving as construction foreman for Stanley Thomson at Nova Scotia’s Highlands Links in the late 1930s.