JAY, Vermont ??вЂќ On Friday, June 30th, as stormy skies parted, pipers from the Catamount Pipe Band played Northland the Brave as they marched their way from the first green toward the tee decks of the new Jay Peak Championship Golf Course. New England’s newest mountain course officially opened to the public with its front nine on Saturday, July 1.
Speaking about a course built across 300 acres by award-winning architect Graham Cooke, and more than 15 years in the making, Jay Peak Resort President Bill Stenger addressed an opening day crowd of more than 50 people with both excitement and heart-felt reflection.
“This is a day I’ve longed for and anticipated for many, many years,” said Stenger. “We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the vision and commitment to this project by many, including Louis Dufour, Cooke and Jacques G. H?В©bert.”
H?В©bert, founder of Mont Saint Sauveur and former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Mont Saint Sauveur International (MSSI), passed away this winter after a brief illness. Pipers ended the morning’s opening remarks with Amazing Grace, as a tribute to H?В©bert’s remarkable vision for Jay Peak and for his dedication to its growth, all the while being a steward to the resort’s surrounding environment. Dufour is the current president of MSSI.
In a shotgun start, Stenger led 14 foursomes out for inaugural play. Golfers included Vermont Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing Bruce Hyde, Vermont Senator Bobby Starr, Vermont Representative John Morley, and Cooke.
When the course opened to the public on Saturday, 15-year-old Adrian Ireland, a five-handicapper from nearby Essex Junction, set the course record, shooting a 77 (playing through the front nine twice). Ireland earned himself a free golf membership for the summer. Bob Abbott, 16, from Virginia, nailed a hole-in-one on Hole 2.
Players ranged in ability and enjoyed the variety of tees, which allowed players to adjust the angle and length of the course from 5,000 to nearly 7,000 yards. Golfers found breathtaking views of Jay Peak and the northern range of the Green Mountains, mature trees, lush, bent-grass fairways, stone features, creeks, and bunkers. The front nine sets out to the east of the base area of the ski resort and extends down the valley over the Jay Branch Brook. The back nine, scheduled to open with the new Clubhouse Spring 2007, will run up into the West Bowl Area and open up views of the mountain, which have never been seen before.
Cooke, who has been designing golf courses for more than 30 years, is best known for Owl’s Head (Quebec), Le Maitre de Mont-Tremblant (Quebec), and The Country Club of Vermont. He is currently overseeing the construction of 10 courses worldwide, including the Jay Peak course plus courses in Canada, Finland, Italy, and India.
Stay and Play packages from $79 are available and include a round of golf, course-side lodging, meals, range balls, and excursions on Jay’s 60-passenger Aerial Tramway to the top of Jay Peak. Here players can look back and admire the new course set out at the base.
For tee times, reservations or more information visit jaypeakresort.com or call toll-free 800.451.4449 (or 802.988.2611 in VT). Daily rates and membership packages are available by calling 802.988.2611.