The course at Sunday River Country Club is a Robert Trent Jones Jnr mountain layout that opened to summer visitors in 2004.
Nestled in the Sunday River Valley, beneath the towering peaks of the Mahoosuc Range, the fairways are set out over a northwest facing hillside, surrounded on all sides by mature hardwood forest, with several of the holes skirting the crystal clear waters of Merrill Creek.
Regarding the construction of the layout, RTJ2 has been quoted as saying: “One of our challenges was to route the golf course through a series of dramatic elevation changes, including steep slopes and deep ravines. At the same time, fairways and greens needed to be shaped to receive and hold shots. One solution was to utilize stone retaining walls to create fairway terraces.”Playing corridors are generally tree-lined but they’re of a sufficient width to offer a fair and eminently playable challenge. The occasional forced carry also crops up during a round here, most memorably at the 213-yard signature 14th – the longest par three on the card – which plays across a sandy waste area to a Redan-style greensite.
Sunday River offers stunning vista views on all sides. Each hole is draped with a beautiful mountain setting with views of the Mahoosac Range.
As you can imagine, mountain golf or golf on a ski resort can offer some challenges. Hilly terrain, often with wildly sloping fairways is one of the concessions at Sunday River. Though wild for east coast golf, Sunday River’s fairways slope no more than some mountain courses on the West Coast of the United States. In addition Trent Jones Jr, designed Sunday River with wide fairways with amble bailout areas, understanding the need on a mountain golf course.
The quality of golf is solid here, with testing holes. Being accurate and playing your ball off the tee is a critical quality needed to enjoy Sunday River to the fullest. Sunday River offers a wide variety of Par 3’s Par 4’s, Par 5’s. Some wildly challenging greens like #9 are questionable in terms of fairness, but not outrageous.
Purists will complain and lament mountain golf is not “real golf” considering that walking here is impossible, it is a worthwhile concession to take a cart to enjoy the beautiful vista and course that is Sunday River.
Sunday River is unique, looking back to the tee box from the green it is the first and only course in my mind that is more attractive to look back towards the tee rather than forward to the green. Stunning waste areas with large boulders, I assume that where moved in order to create each hole leaves the golfer breathless.
Sunday compared to its close neighbor Sugarloaf offers a subtle a nuanced golf experience. High in caliber Sunday River is a quality golf course and destination.