This is a short course in yardage, but the 5-iron, wedge that delivers you to the slick 10th green is long forgotten when the time comes to bang driver, 4-iron uphill to No. 13 green and once again to No. 14. Besides being well-bunkered and interesting to putt, these two greens sit on promontories offering postcard views of Pico Peak and Mt. Killington. It's a point in the round to stop thinking about golf for a minute and remember the season. Once you've putted out at No. 15 you'll spend about 20 more minutes in the high ground, negotiating a downhill par-3 then stalking the wild, upslope 16th. The turn for home is a lusty drive off an eagle's nest of a tee down the 17th fair way. When the round ends, you find yourself back in the Midwestern pragmatism of Rutland, but your senses remain somewhere up on the high ridge.
After a fall excursion from one of the coastal-plane cities up through the Berkshires and points north, you'll probably return to find your own neighborhood still awaiting its peak foliage weeks. Days will still be warm, ideal for finishing out the local golf season. On top of that you've got your maple syrup, your block of strong cheddar and that country-store welcome mat to remind you of the trip. Thus the melancholy that sank in as you rolled back toward the flatlands presents a bit of a mystery. It turns out there is something on the other side of autumn's call to action, the unquenchable doubt about a year that needed reclaiming and provisions for winter that may or may not be enough.
New England's Top Twenty
The best public-access courses, based on a survey of the New England PGA professionals
1. Crumpin-Fox Club
Location Bernardston, Mass.
Par & Yardage 72, 7,007
Rating & Slope 73.8, 141
Architect (Year Opened) Roger Rulewich (1978)
Best Nearby Inn Deerfield Inn (413-774-5587)
Best Nearby Meal Andiamo (413-648-9107)
For A Tee Time Call... 413-648-9101
2. Yale Golf Course
Location New Haven, Conn.
Par & Yardage 70, 6,749
Rating & Slope 72.9, 132
Architect (Year Opened) C. B. Macdonald (1926)
Best Nearby Inn Three Chimneys Inn (203-789-1201)
Best Nearby Meal Union League Café (203-562-4299)
For A Tee Time Call... 203-432-0895
3. Taconic Golf Club
Location Williamstown, Mass.
Par & Yardage 71, 6,640
Rating & Slope 71.7, 127
Architect (Year Opened) Stiles/Van Kleek (1896)
Best Nearby Inn The Orchards (800-225-1517)
Best Nearby Meal Mill on the Floss (413-458-9123)
For A Tee Time Call... 413-458-3997