Originally laid out by Donald Steel’s design company in 2002, the course at Vineyard Golf Club has long been Barack Obama’s golfing venue of choice when vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard.
The club lies well off the main drag, affording essential privacy for the former President and his entourage when he visits. The club doesn’t close down when he’s on the course; instead, a discreet one or two hole buffer is maintained before and after his group.
One of the very few all-organic golf courses in the USA, Vineyard seamlessly integrates into a 235-acre parcel of land that lies three miles to the east of Edgartown, on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, with turf conditions comparable to those of the great Surrey heathland courses in England.
A recent Gil Hanse redesign, which the architect now bills as an original Hanse course, resulted in fairway angle changes, tees being repositioned and seven of the greens reworked as part of an upgrade that also saw the old pot bunkers replaced. Five new holes (4 to 7 and 9) were created and the revised routing on the front nine removes the long walk to reach the 7th and the shuttle ride to the 8th.The par four 1st now doglegs right along a dramatically enlarged sandy area, with a new sloping green and the par five 9th, an amalgam of the old fifth and sixth holes, offers split fairway options for the tee shot before the hole swings downhill to a lakeside green.
The Vineyard Golf Club is no longer a Donald Steel golf course. 98% of Donald Steel’s work has been removed and replaced by a magnificent Gil Hanse masterpiece. Gorgeous sprawling bunker complexes were instituted, holes were re-routed and greens were moved. What makes this golf course truly unique is that it is completely organic – from the trees and plants all the way to the methods of green-keeping, construction and approaches to agronomy. I consider this one of the best courses in New England that people have never heard of, but I’ve no doubt once people get exposure to the results of Gil’s work, this course will receive endless accolades.