Golf in Woodstock dates back to 1895 but the Woodstock Inn & Resort course at Woodstock Country Club is a Robert Trent Jones Senior layout from 1963 which replaced an earlier Wayne Stiles design. The old master returned subsequently to upgrade the course several times.
The full story of the course’s provenance is told in this edited extract from The Life and Work of Wayne Stiles by Bob Labbance & Kevin Mendik:
“Today’s course occupies a level piece of property along the Kedron Brook. The original course straddled the peak of Mt. Peg, a 1,080-foor hill in a wooded area that long-ago reverted to forest. Several routings occupied the hilltop before William Tucker brought the course down from the mountain.
He planned two 9-hole courses for Woodstock, the first in 1906 and a revision in 1912. By 1923, the membership tolls had swelled to 160 from the original 35, and all agreed that an 18-hole course was necessary.
The first step was the purchase of the 150-acre Hathorn farm to the south of the existing layout. The next step was to bring Stiles to the site [and] he retained more than half of Tucker’s holes. It wasn’t until 1927 that the entire course was open.
Laurence Rockefeller purchased the property in 1961 and engaged Robert Trent Jones to remodel the layout. The Wayne Stiles course was obliterated, with the sole exception being the 8th green that became today’s 5th hole.”
As James mentioned the North to South configuration of many of the holes greatly dimishes the shot value of the course. Coupled with a narrow property not much can be done to lengthen or revise the overall layout.
Kedron Brook runs through many of the holes, which is pretty, however the usage of water by Trent Jones Sr is not fitting for the course decisions. Trent Jones Sr, style of aerial attack better suits modern courses, with vast parcels of land. Woodstock would be better suited with more charming layouts found during the golden age of course design.
Conditions where rough, typical of a municipal course near a larger city. Dry patches of fairway and slow greens. It is difficult to justify the cost playing here, epically considering that Hanover CC is nearby in New Hampshire.
Overall, Woodstock is nothing special forgettable holes and to a larger extent course. Sad, as I was expecting more as the Inn is an exquisite place, that oozes old New England charm.
Unfortunately, I never played the former Wayne Stiles design ultimately replaced by the efforts of Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The course today is a decent one but handicapped by a small constricted land parcel with holes moving primarily either north/south or south/north.
There are only a few holes of note and much of it stems from the intersection with Kedron Brook. You get this with the dog-leg left par-4 3rd and also at the slight turn to the left par-4 4th. The latter is done well - at the turning point the available acreage mandates a superb drive because it's easy to go too far right and reach the adjoining trees. The putting surface is smartly located on the far side of the brook and when the pin is cut in the deep right corner it takes a special play to nestle one's ball tight to the hole.
The same situation happens on the inward side with the holes using Kedron Brook. The par-4 12th is nearly a mirror image of the earlier played 4th. The short par-4 14th is also quite fun but its design style uses a heavy-handed Trent Jones Sr. style when a more charming New England style favored by the old time architects would have worked far better.
The course is set-up to provide guests at the exquisite adjoining Woodstock Inn a golf connection but do keep your expectations in check.
M. James Ward