Built on land purchased from the Pearl S. Buck estate, Stratton Mountain Country Club in southern Vermont is one of the loveliest resort spreads in New England. The three nines-Forest, Lake and Mountain-are routed at the base of the ski mountain. Some holes could be dismissed as too plain or easy, but others give pause for strategy.
Stratton, site of six LPGA events over the years, asks for more in the way of accuracy and course management than raw power. Late afternoon, when white-tailed deer wander into long shadows cast across the fairways, is the best time to play. Purchase a three-night package, and you can also tee it up on the fabulous Gleneagles course at The Equinox resort in nearby Manchester. Struggling with your game? Enroll in the Stratton Golf School. Its low student-to-pro ratio, trouble-shot improvement areas and video swing analysis are designed to get you back on track.
Golf and flyfishing have always enjoyed an easy marriage. And for those who seek a classic, old-school experience, Stratton is the place. Orvis-endorsed guides who have been pursuing the art for decades will lead you to the best sections of the area's best rivers, notably the fabled Battenkill, where the rainbows and brownies are nearly as smart as the people trying to catch them. Instruction is available for advanced anglers as well as beginners. The program is offered through the First Run outdoors shop in Stratton Village.
Northern Michigan:At Boyne USA Resorts in northern Michigan, you can find 162 holes under one umbrella. Boyne Mountain boasts a pair of fine resort spreads, the Alpine and Monument, that drop from its summit to the shores of Deer Lake. (A third layout by Pete Dye will open in summer 2006). Boyne Highlands lists four excellent and varied courses: Ross, Moor, Hills and Heather. But Boyne USA's trump card is Bay Harbor, a 27-hole course with three distinct nines, notably the Quarry (set in a gorge walled in by 40-foot cliffs) and the Links (propped up on bluffs high above Lake Michigan). Across the street from Bay Harbor is Crooked Tree, its holes sculpted from an old farmstead.
The local fishing is a match for the golf. Not far from the resort is the Boyne River, its waters brimming with browns and rainbows. Steelhead and salmon arrive in spring and fall, respectively, making Boyne one of the nation's finest all-around flyfishing venues. Purists can arrange to fish the Everett F. Kircher Private Trout Preserve, a pristine three-mile stretch of the Boyne named for the ski resort's late founder. These waters, which hold native brook and brown trout as well as stocked rainbows, offer some of the best catch-and-release flyfishing in the state. Haven't mastered the art of fly casting? Angle for perch, bluegill and northern pike in Deer Lake. Guided float trips are available, as are Walk & Wade trips-popularized by Ernest Hemingway, who fished in northern Michigan as a kid and later featured the region in his Nick Adams stories.