Woodchuck Golf in Waitsfield is a Backyard Labor of Love
June 14, 2023
On a clear spring day, you can see the top of Jay Peak from Spencer Potter’s backyard in Waitsfield. Just steps away from his house on Palmer Lane are a patio, a pond, a burn pile, and a six-hole golf course named Woodchuck Golf that Potter built 19 years ago.
Woodchuck Golf began on a lark after a friend suggested it over beers on Potter’s patio. Nearly two decades later, the course is a big part of Potter’s life as golfers from near and far arrive to play in his backyard. The course is more difficult than it looks: The greens are small, flat areas are scarce, and the pond is smack in the middle of the course, where many balls end up (Potter hires a local kid to fish them out).
“We’ve had people say this is the hardest course they’ve ever played,” says Potter, who’s lived in Waitsfield for 47 years. “It’s called unforgiving. Some people won’t play here. For a lot of players, water is intimidating.”
But plenty of people do come to play—and love it. And Potter, who wasn’t a golfer when he opened the course in 2004, enjoys playing golf and meeting people from all over. He mostly enjoys maintaining the course, although he jokingly admits he didn’t know what he was getting himself into 19 years ago. Still, he thinks Woodchuck Golf adds a little something special to the Mad River Valley.
“The Mad River Valley is in the business of hospitality, and I think we add a little funkiness and hospitality. I don’t believe anyone has ever come to the Mad River Valley just because of Woodchuck Golf, but it’s like the cherry on top.”
Woodchuck Golf runs on donations (cash or non-perishable items that he donates to the local food shelf). For details or to book a tee time, visit woodchuckgolf.com.
Happy Vermont Podcast
Woodchuck Golf attracts golfers looking for an offbeat and challenging experience. In this podcast episode of Happy Vermont, Erica Houskeeper talks with Potter to find out what motivates him about running a public golf course in his backyard.