By Kathy Bennett
If, like a lot of people, you have been itching to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors, a round of golf at North Conway Country Club might be just what the doctor ordered.
Golf courses were reopened earlier this month for members and residents of New Hampshire. While there are modifications required currently, Golf Pro Kevin Walker ensured that the guest experience remained top notch.
You will notice some differences for check in. Walk up to a new outside window to check in with the pro shop. Tee times are spaced out a little more – 12 minutes apart to ensure social distancing. If you are renting a cart, plan on driving solo – another adaption to encourage space between players. On the date we played last week, the pro shop was readying to open for modified retail operations as of May 22. Their well appointed shop offers apparel, gloves, clubs, balls, tees and anything else the golfer wants or needs. Rumor has it they also offer repairs for the occasional snapped club (or so I’ve heard).
If you haven’t played NCCC, you will notice two things immediately from the first tee. One is the working train tracks immediately in front of the club house. Conway Scenic Railroad runs popular old-fashioned train rides from the adjacent Schouler Park train station. Our tee time was delayed a minute or two as they re-positioned some train cars on the tracks out front. The sight of the antique engine was worth the wait!
The second thing you’ll notice is the spectacular views of Cathedral Ledge. As you hit the ball off the elevated first tee, you can’t take your eyes off it! Maybe that’s why I can’t hit the ball. That’s my excuse anyway! However you swing it, you’l drink in the views as you watch your ball sail down to the first fairway and beyond.
Speaking of fairways, the greens – and the entire course– was in spectacular shape especially for early season. Walker and his team had spent the weeks leading up to opening focusing on course maintenance and their hard work and dedication to quality shows. The course has been at the center of North Conway Village since it was founded as a 9 hole course in 1900, then known as Kearsarge Golf Links. In 1935, it was modified and a 2nd set of tees were added. Then come 1975, an additional 9 holes were added. Fun fact – the back nine were designed by local Architect William Levy, former owner of The Yield House, long a popular employer and retail establishment in North Conway!
It makes sense that with their “downtown” village location that NCCC this year is partnering with another North Conway icon, the Eastern Slope Inn Resort. Look for special rates for guests at Eastern Slope Inn Resort once that property – and all NH lodging businesses – get the green light to reopen!
NCCC is ultimately a playable course, good enough for professional events and players but forgiving enough for anyone to play and have a delightful round. My friend and I played the far forward tees to keep up with the pace of play and to avoid feeling too intimidated by the longer distanced holes.
More fun facts about NCCC. They easily claim the best driving range in Mt. Washington Valley, including areas to practice pitching and putting as well as driving. The driving range was planning to reopen soon the day we visited. NCCC also is a best kept locals secret for drinks and dining with a view at the Ledgeview Grille. Like all restaurants currently, service is limited to outdoor dining. If you’re going to eat outdoors, this is the place to go!
While some attractions and activities are not yet opened in Mt. Washington Valley, golf is definitely the sport du jour. The course was hopping – albeit socially distanced – on a beautiful mid-week day last week when we played. NH residents and members are welcome to come swing into spring and enjoy all that NCCC has to offer right now!
Click here for more information on Golf in the White Mountains and Mt. Washington Valley.