The ping of sharp line drives and towering drives echo over the grounds at Legends Golf, where athletes of all ages compete in rounds of miniature golf and hone swings in the batting cages or at the driving range.
Golf balls trickle down topsy-turvy tracks at the 18-hole miniature-golf course, which weaves through rock faces and tiny geysers that erupt with glee any time a player misses an easy putt. Eight target greens populate the 300-yard driving range, where new Wilson Staff Range Balls touch down after taking flight from 45 synthetic mats or 35 grass tees.
Under the vaulted roof of the batting cages, nine pitching machines send baseballs and softballs speeding toward hitters as they get the most out of every at bat and discreetly argue balls and strikes with imaginary umpires. To pass the time in between mini-golf rounds or during kids' golf lessons, guests can use Legends' wireless Internet connection free of charge.
Apple Hill Golf Club entices golfers of all abilities with a 27-hole tapestry weaved into rolling, New Hampshire woodlands. The club’s 18-hole course meanders across 6,184 yards of wide, bermuda grass fairways and bentgrass greens flanked by ponds that come into play on more than half of the holes. Those looking to hone their short game can tee it up on the nine-hole, par 3 course, an 800-yard layout that duffers can complete in an efficient 45 minutes, enabling them to squeeze in a session before dark or in time to drop off their 9-iron at soccer practice.
During the summer, PGA professional Steve Lundquist utilizes the multifaceted grounds to host a junior golf academy, which grants pupils free play on the par 3 course throughout the season. Along with a wide selection of clubs, balls, clothes, and shoes available for purchase, the club’s pro shop curbs appetites with fresh sandwiches, drinks, and hot dogs that can be braided together to form fully functional putters.
Championship Course at a Glance:
Originally sculpted into the New Hampshire countryside in 1889, Exeter Country Club's nine-hole course stretches across 2,801 yards for a par 35 layout. Wreathed by waterways flowing south from the Great Bay, the course cools off clubbers and hot-tempered carts with seaside breezes that waft across the greens. Though consisting mostly of straight-ahead fairways, the course forces players to adjust at the fifth hole, a 365-yard par 4 where golfers must bend drives around a dramatic 90-degree dogleg left obscured by dense tree lines. Exeter Country Club's on-site restaurant, Grill on the Hill, awaits at the end of the ninth green, serving up a menu of American fare to quench appetites after a day of dedicated pin-hunting and scorecard falsification.
Course at a Glance:
White pines, hemlocks, and white birches flourish on the 140 acres of New England countryside that golf-course architect Ted Manning—a Robert Trent Jones protégé—and US Women’s Open champ Mary Mills sculpted into a championship golf course for Townsend Ridge Country Club. Golfers can leave breadcrumb trails to find their way back as they swing through the forested links, hitting over the stream that splits the 3rd hole’s ryegrass fairway before heading uphill on a 474-yard, par-5 12th hole. The course’s signature par-4 14th hole demands a cautious approach, as balls that land past the pin find themselves rolling down a steep slope. At last, with the clubhouse in sight, golfers finish up at the 18th by launching their balls over a pond to land on a double green shared with hole 9.
Although it’s a daily-fee course, Townsend Ridge creates the feel of a private club with a driving range hemmed by 35 hitting stations and a pro shop that hosts two swing simulators. These let players keep in shape during wintery months by tackling digital recreations of the links at Pebble Beach and St. Andrews. For more structured practice sessions, golfers can join lessons and get professional answers as to what’s the best grip for hitting out of the sand and what kind of bird lays golf balls.
Course at a Glance:
Nestled within 164 acres of mature pine trees and hardwood forest, the secluded golf course at Quail Ridge Country Club surrounds visitors in natural splendor. Course architect Mark Mungeam of Cornish, Silva, and Mungeam, Inc., designed the fairways to harmonize with the naturally rolling terrain, where occasional stone walls line the edges of what were once farmers’ fields. After teeing off, players choose carefully among their bag’s fairway woods, long irons, and golf-ball-sized blowguns as they confront a number-one handicap first hole whose fairway unfurls over nearly 600 uphill yards. The course doesn’t let up, keeping golfers on their toes right up to the end of each round.
Off the course, players gain the skills needed to meet such challenges by frequenting the chipping area or practice putting green. During lessons held in these practice spots, head teaching pro John Carco harnesses more than 15 years of experience to help students eliminate slice and perfect their swing. The country club’s family center hosts a snack bar where golfers can fuel up for a round, stash their belongings in lockers, or build ball-driving muscles at the fitness center.
Just a hop and a skip from the family center, the club’s 3,200-square-foot outdoor pool entices visitors of all stripes with its widely varied facilities. Athletes zip down 75-foot swim lanes, parents and kids splash in a baby pool with zero-grade entry, and sunbathers bask on more than 4,500 square feet of deck. On four adjacent tennis courts, serves rebound off of Har-Tru clay surfaces, and windscreens keep out distracting breezes and lost pool-goers murmuring "Marco?"
Course at a Glance:
Sculpted into tree-studded mountain slopes, Ragged Mountain Golf Club's 18-hole course plots a winding path over dramatic elevation changes. When played from the double black diamond tees—the club borrows skiing terminology in an homage to the winter activities hosted at the same site—club pros compare the layout to a U.S. Open course and advise only scratch golfers or those with remote-controlled golf balls to brave the tips. Along with tight tree lines and rolling terrain up and down the mountain, the course runs over streams that come into play on 14 holes. With onsite lodging and golf-and-stay packages, Ragged Mountain invites golfers to set aside a weekend amid the mountain air. In the winter, Ragged Mountain activates a high-speed, six-person chairlift, from which skiers, snowboarders, and snow-angel enthusiasts gain access to two mountains with 50 trails, including 11 glades and three terrain parks. Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Course rating of 74.9 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 149 from the farthest tees * Four tee options