Founded in 1923, Cochecho Country Club is a private country club in Dover, New Hampshire featuring a traditional 18 hole, championship golf course, uniquely designed and built by two different architects from two differing eras – Messrs. Wayne Stiles and Phil Wogan. The layout is challenging, enjoyable to play and effusing elements typical of a classic layout – routing wherein greens and tees are set on high ground, strategic lines of play, features executed in harmony with the natural environment and subtle challenging greens.
Described by restoration architect Ron Forse as a “hidden-gem”, the front-nine at Cochecho is an excellent classic course designed in the early 1920s by visionary architect Nr. Wayne Stiles. Whereas the majority of classic era architects were Scottish or English immigrants who honed their craft as apprentice green keepers, club makers, golf pros and finally as architects, Stiles entered the field of golf architecture through landscape architecture as a draftsman for a prominent Boston landscape architect. By the end of his career, Stiles was influential in both the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Society of Golf Course Architects. In 1923, he formed a partnership with Mr. John Van Kleek; and the majority of subsequent work was completed with Van Kleek. The solo work at Cochecho shows the genius of Stiles’ work.
The second of Cochecho’s architect’s, Mr. Phil Wogan from the prominent New England golfing family, was the son of Skip Wogan who worked with Donald Ross at the Essex Country Club in Manchester, Massachusetts and was instrumental in founding the New England PGA. Subsequent to working with his father until his death in 1957, Phil took over the family design business and continued to practice for a number of years. His background in biology and education served him well. An authority within the industry regarding golf and the environment, his work on A White Paper on behalf of the American Society of Golf Course Architects was the standard for defending the industry against those believing golf to be a detriment to the environment for many years. The majority of his work involved designing nine hole course and adding nine holes to existing courses, as he did at Cochecho.
Cochecho is a shot maker’s course that tests the golfer’s wit as well as his ball striking ability. Each hole has its own character, not only in the look of the hole, but the types of the shots required and the lie of the ball on the terrain. It is a course where shorter hitting golfers can be just as skillful as their longer hitting counterparts and where strategy requires a golfer to put varying values on successive shots. The beauty of this strategic design is twofold; the bogey golfer can enjoy his round just as much as the scratch golfer and the course is forever enjoyable for golfers of all abilities.
Historical information from “The Architects of Golf” by Cornish & Whitten and Ron Forse, Forse Designs, Inc.