Bretwood course inviting and a river runs thru it

If you’re a golfer who is tired of the same old routine and you want to explore a new course, try Bretwood Golf Course in Keene.

It was a beautiful morning as I headed to Bretwood. The drive is easy; just straight down Route 101 toward Vermont and a couple of turns once you reach Keene’s Main Street.

Bretwood is a 36-hole public golf course where you have the choice to play the North or South courses – or both, if you please. The course was built by Geoffrey Cornish and Hugh Barrett, the superintendent is Tom Barrett, and the head professional is Matt Barrett, so needless to say it’s a family business.

The course is in a spot in southwestern New Hampshire that most people don’t consider traveling to for a round of golf. But it is a hidden gem known for covered bridges, ponds and double greens.

Bretwood contains all sorts of obstacles. The Ashuelot River runs throughout both courses and alongside a good majority of the fairways and greens. While the sound of the running water is soothing, the river makes some shots challenging and will have you playing smarter.

The driving range is somewhat small and elevated. The practice green is fairly large and has some flat areas as well as some slopes, so you can get a variety of putts. There is also another practice green for chipping and pitching with a practice bunker adjacent.

Both courses have the first holes leading out on either side of the clubhouse. And both of the 18th-hole greens sit outside the clubhouse balcony and deck, where golfers can enjoy a cold beverage as they watch groups come in. The pro shop is downstairs and is fully stocked with equipment. The snack bar is upstairs where you have access to the balcony and deck, as well as the restrooms.

I headed to the first tee on the North course, the favorite of players. There are four sets of tees from which to play. The gold tees are almost tipped out, playing at 6,976 yards; the blue tees are 6,434 yards; the whites are 5,827 yards; and the reds are 5,140 yards. The course has some long holes that carry some danger, such as a pond, bunkers or the river.

Those who favor hitting their driver a lot don’t have to leave it in the car when playing at Bretwood. You need the length of the driver on most of the holes, and the fairways are somewhat wide, so you don’t have to worry about losing too many balls if your swing goes awry. Your approach shots need to be consistent, otherwise you will find yourself hitting out of a bunker or watching your ball land in the river.

There are a handful of holes that are pretty straightforward, with only the challenge of bunkers around the green.

The smart play for this course is knowing where to hit your ball and where you want to be hitting your next shot from. One of the toughest holes is the No. 7, a par 5; it’s a double dogleg. The signature hole is No. 13, a par three. The hole might only be 130 yards from the blue tees, but it is intimidating when standing at the tee box.

The par 5, apart from No. 7, give a good golfer a chance to reach the green in two if you land the ball in a good spot. Most of the greens are guarded by bunkers of all sizes and depths waiting to bury your ball if it strays away from your projected line.

No. 14, a 380-yard par 4, is a hole to keep in mind when getting ready to tee it up. With the river along the left side, you must keep the ball to the right.

No. 18, a 373-yard par 4, is a great finishing hole. The fairway is wide open when teeing off, with only the clubhouse and green in sight. It is only when you get to your approach shot that you notice the pond to the front right of the green.

The greens at Bretwood were slow, incredibly slow, In fact. You couldn’t hit a putt without swinging outside your comfort zone. This is because the greens were to be cut short for the Men’s NH State Amateur Qualifier, which was held there this week.

Despite the fact that I was swinging out of my shoes on my lag putts, I still enjoyed this course. I’m surprised it’s not more popular.

On weekdays, it costs $36 to play 18 holes, $20 for nine holes and $48 to play all day on either course. On weekends and holidays, the cost is $44 for 18 holes, $25 for nine and $54 to play all day. Carts are $9 for nine holes and $14 for 18 holes. These are some of the cheapest rates that you’ll find.

Bretwood only has tee times on the weekends, so during the week it’s first come, first served.

Chelsea Demers can be reached at cdemers@nashuatelegraph.com or 594-6448. She is the current New Hampshire Women’s State Amateur Champion.