• By Geoffrey Norman

    Photography by Hubert Schriebl

    Summer 2012

    Say you are on your way from Pawlet (or Danby) to Middletown Springs on highway 133. You’re making the drive to pick up some cheddar cheese straws from Sissy’s Kitchen, and to talk to Sissy, herself, about catering your next party… but I digress.

    Golf in the Back Forty

    “I could see exactly what he was talking about and I said, ‘In the spring, let’s do it.’” Over the next two years, the course was built and refined. It was done without much alteration of the existing landscape. “We wanted it to look as natural as possible,” Gary says. “So most of the construction was in building up the greens and digging out the bunkers.” He bought the sand for his bunkers from the same New Hampshire source that supplies the Equinox because he “couldn’t find bright, white sand in Vermont.”

    In 2000, it occurred to Gary and April’s uncle (who is designer of record) that they had overlooked the natural site for another green. They built it and it became, more or less, the signature feature of Honey Pond. What ‘Amen Corner’ is to Augusta; the ‘Island Green at 17’ is to Sawgrass, and the majestic 18th is to Pebble, that is what the ‘Diabolical West Green’ is at Honey Pond.

    “What makes it so tough?” I said.

    “You’ll see, “ Gary said.

    Actually, I was finding the course plenty tough enough. And when I mentioned this, Gary said, “ It’s more difficult than it appears. It’s only about 5,200 yards but there is water on 14 holes and the greens are relatively small.”

    “I’ve noticed both of those things.”

    “And, we have one hole with an island green. I’m pretty sure that makes us unique in Vermont. And we have another where you hit from an elevated tee and the drop is about 150 feet. We’ve even added a feature that came to me after I went to the Masters last year and saw Amen Corner. I extended the putting surface on one green to the edge of a stream we call ‘Snake Brook.’ So a player approaching from a narrow fairway is sort of tempted to hit over a front bunker and risk rolling into Snake Brook. But play safe to the right and you risk a wood line and a large bunker right.”

    “So what kind of score would a good player shoot.”

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