Tater Hill Golf Club in VT by Christine Lynn Harvey

Okemo Valley Golf Club's sister golf course, Tater Hill, is about a 1/2 hour drive from Okemo Valley in the town of Windham, VT. Six newly renovated holes, an improved golf cart path, a new irrigation system and meticulously manicured greens make it a real pleasure to play. Named after a potato farm that once operated here, Tater Hill is a real nature paradise with plenty of bird houses, vegetation and ponds to attracts birds surrounding many of the holes. The most challenging holes are the innocent-looking 7th hole because of it's deceptively narrow and long fairway, the 10th with a long par 5 with a water hazard to the left that leaves you betwixt and between laying up or mustering enough wallop to go for the green. Another challenging hole is the 16th with a dogleg and water hazard to the left. The 13th is a pretty birch lined hole with vistas of the Green Mountains in the background. Women definitely have an advantage on the forward tees at Tater Hill.

Not enough can be said about Tater Hill's maintenance staff that is absolutely passionate about their job. The course has been resurrected after a period of decline and disrepair that its former owners left it in before it was bought by the Muellers who also own Okemo Mountain Resort and other ski resorts throughout the country. Diane Mueller's personal decorating touch can be found throughout the clubhouse from the golfer themed place mats in the clubhouse's restaurant to the curtains and bric brac on the shelves. But Mrs. Mueller is not a micromanager; she lets the staff do their job and many of them are year-round employees who switch off to running Okemo Mountain Resort when the golf season winds down and snow sports season starts.

Tater Hill has a nice private country club feel that is open to the public while Okemo Valley offers more of a resort atmosphere. John Pawlak, head pro and club manager has started a great junior golf clinic for kids. "Tater Tots" is geared to any child who can swing a golf club. "If they can swing a club, they're welcome to participate," says Pawlak. For only $15, a child gets 2 hours of short game, long game and putting instruction and a free club rental. The golf instructor takes children out on the course and parents are invited to watch. "We want to make it more of a family affair," he says. Getting children involved early with golf makes a lifetime player. "More women are playing and we're seeing Mom and Dad take their kids out on the course."

Sunday Brunch is a tradition at Tater Hill and the food is really quite excellent. The pro shop offers a really nice and diverse selection of women's golf apparel that is very reasonably priced. Both Tater Hill and Okemo Valley Golf Club offer facilities and catering for weddings and conferences. There is an excellent Golf Stay and Play 2-Day packages for $98 pp that includes accommodations, greens fees and cart at both Okemo Valley and Tater Hill. One of the best times to play golf in Vermont is during the fall. The last week of September through the third week in October is the best time to see the foliage change. For more info contact Tater Hill Golf Club, 6802 Popple Dungeon Road, Windham, VT, 05143 call 802-875-2517; email John Pawlak at jpawlak@okemo.com or visit www.okemo.com

“The Three Scoring Clubs: How to Raise the Level of Your Driving, Pitching, and Putting” by Jim McLean (Gotham Books; 2005; $30) is sure to turn you into a scratch golfer if you now have a 10 handicap. McLean offers invaluable advice on the three clubs that have the greatest impact on your score: the driver, the wedge and the putter. After all, an accurate drive, an on-target wedge shot, and a good finish with the putter are the factors that make all the difference.

McLean devotes a section to each club, and then customizes his instructions for each skill level - high handicaps, intermediate golfers, and scratch players. The 3 Scoring Clubs has guidelines on every aspect of golf, including equipment and shot-making tips, advice on fixing faults, on-course strategies, how-to tips to lower scores and innovative practice methods. Just a few examples of McLean's expert advice include: The driver and the Eight-Step Swing, with nuances designed to add even more power and accuracy from the tee; the fundamentals of the wedge's "knockdown" shot; The secrets of playing the sand wedge from a bunker; a foolproof pendulum putting motion that shaves crucial strokes from a round; how to use the long putter and deal with breaking greens. McLean is director of golf at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa, home of the legendary Blue Monster Course; a regular contributor to Golf Digest and a featured instructor on The Golf Channel's popular show Trouble Shooters. He is the author of The Eight-Step Swing and Gotham's Golf Digest's Ultimate Drill Book. He operates seven world-class golf schools around the country and lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL. For more info, visit: www.JimMcLean.com

Tater Hill, sister golf course of Okemo Valley Golf Club, was built on the former site of a potato farm in Vermont