The unforgettable views begin on the first tee. Mount Mansfield provides the backdrop for a fairway that is lined on both sides by a magnificent stand of New England hardwoods, pines and birches. The two-tiered green, protected by a small false front, is perched on the hill.
Between the tees and the fairway runs Big Spruce Brook. This stream and all other waterways on the course are protected on both sides by a natural buffer.
The tee aims you safely up the right side. A corridor of trees clearly points out the lane as the upward trek continues. From the second landing area, the shot to the green is imperceptibly uphill. The base of the flagstick is not visible, but the target is clearly evident.
This short par 4 is completely open on the left side with no hazards, while Big Spruce Brook babbles quietly over the rocks, through the oaks and birches on the right. For the best approach shot angle to this subtle green, challenge the right side from the tee.
As you cross over the bridge from the second green, look below. The stream bank that you see was restored to its original state after an old maintenance road culvert was removed.
This long par 3 takes off from the base of Spruce Peak and begins the most demanding portion of the front nine. A generous section of fairway leads to the large green, guarded by a long bunker on the right.
Notice the tall dead birch trees in the wetland near the green. Known as snags, these trees are filled with insect larvae, an excellent source of food for foraging birds. Don't be surprised to see a woodpecker or two.
A well-played drive up the left side sets up a challenging approach shot. Maintaining your focus is the difficulty with the breath-taking views of Mount Mansfield distracting you. At an elevation of 1860 feet, the green appears to slope dramatically from front to back, but this is an illusion.
At the ridge in the middle of this fairway, you will be near the highest elevation on the golf course. Look for red-tailed hawks hovering above and meadow birds in the hillside fields below.
A 175-200 yard carry over the spectacular rock face will leave you with a short-iron approach to this beautifully positioned green. Once on the putting surface, the spectacular view of the Stowe valley and a glimpse of Peregrine Lake is your reward.
Look at the beech trees near the greenside pull-off. These trees were once home to local black bears. Notice the claw marks still visible all the way up the tree trunks.
Playing 1-2 clubs less than the yardage, this downhill par 3 is truly exhilarating. A large rock formation guards the front of the green, while the protected conservation land abuts the back. Selecting the correct club for the wind and drop in elevation is the real challenge here.
Managing the change in elevation from tee to green is the key to this hole. You must negotiate a steep slope off the tee to get in position for the second shot. Take advantage of the backstop behind the green to turn your approach shot into a birdie opportunity.
This hole begs you to launch it boldly; off the tee and on the second shot. If both are played well, the ball will be on or very near the green in two. The relatively benign green sits down in the valley framed by Mt. Mansfield's gondola and the infamous Nosedive ski run.
This three-shot par 5 plays uphill to a small green protected by a massive rock ledge on the left and bunkers on the right. Hit a great wedge and this hole appears easy, getting you off to a good start on the back nine.
The green surround on this hole is set against an impressive rock wall. This is where birds of prey often perch to survey the land. Don't be surprised to see a kestrel, the smallest bird of prey in our area.
This long par 3 plays through a gap in the trees toward Peregrine Lake. Gauging the wind properly from the protected tee area is the key to correct club selection. This hole completes the transition from the elevated front nine to the lower back nine, which plays around the lake.
A right-to-left tee shot works best on this lengthy, uphill par 4. From the fairway, favor the left side on your approach, utilizing the mounding to help feed the ball onto the green. Check the hole location before selecting your club as the green is divided by a ridge into two distinct tiers.
This hole says, "Come and try me." The fairway turns sharply to the left behind the bunkers, banking off the slope. The opening to the green is wide and gentle, though a bunker guards the right side.
The comfort station behind the tees is a composting bathroom, the first of its kind on any Audubon International Signature golf course. The building is self-sufficient, relying on solar power to operate lighting and all other building functions.
The fairway rises thirty feet from the tees on this short, uphill par 4. Challenge the bunkers up the left side with a driver and you will have a short-iron approach shot. The green sits on a peninsula that juts into the lake.
This par 3 requires a spectacular risk/reward shot over Peregrine Lake. Select your club, exhale and make your best swing of the day. If the pin is behind the bunker on the right, the slope will funnel the ball toward the hole.
This is the first hole you will play over Peregrine Lake. The lake's animal population has increased and diversified since its creation. We have found frogs, ducks, salamanders, geese and other birds calling the lake home.
More precision than power is best here, as your tee shot must fit between the wetland and the forest. The green, protected by tall fescue, is beautifully positioned down in a valley. The putting surface slopes gently to the left; knowing this may influence your second shot.
In the wetland area below the tees, look for a tree that has fallen over. Detritus that falls from the exposed roots reintroduces minerals found below the topsoil layer back into the surface ecosystem.
This is the longest of the par 5s and it rolls and turns like the native countryside. In late August, the golden fescue ripples in the breeze. Favor the right side from tee to green as you navigate around the dam that holds back Peregrine Lake which sits above the fairway.
The longest hole on the golf course curls around the bottom of Peregrine Lake. The grassland hillside above this hole is home to many insects and small mammals. Clover growing on the hillside past the green is eaten by moose and deer.
The spectacular finishing hole, like so many of the par 4s at Stowe Mountain Club, is not long. However, the forced carry over the lake can be exciting. A tee shot played short of the main fairway bunker will leave a short-iron approach shot and your last chance for birdie.