We all have one—that special place. Just the thought of it can bring back great nostalgia and bring your mind peace. For me, that place is Stowe, Vermont. There are many reasons I love it, but when I thought about the true “why” it became pretty simple. It is where I shared my fondest memories with my family. Second to that, is the fact, it is home to my favorite golf course.

Growing up, between the hectic schedules of four kids, I knew there was always one thing that would remain constant… our summer trip to Stowe. My grandparents’ good friends, The Fisher’s, owned Boulder Springs Farm that sat beautifully on top of Edson Hill. On the property, there were four ponds, a barn, a farmhouse, and one quaint wood cottage. The cottage sat directly in front of the largest pond which was outfitted with a dock and a canoe that we spent hours using. Every summer, the eight hour drive was full of anticipation and sometimes a few tickets (dad was excited to get there too!). I usually fell asleep with about an hour to go, but what woke me up every time was hearing the gravel road as we pulled onto the farm. I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. Every time it felt like the gates of heaven had just opened. For those of you who know us, Walker family vacations aren’t exactly refreshing. Usually, we try to see how many activities we can fit in, so we leave knowing we took advantage of every opportunity. However, even though we were highly active, every time we left Stowe, we felt relaxed and full of energy.

My parents relaxing on the porch of the cottage.

On the porch of the cottage is the one place we knew my dad would be able to sit and read for hours while we raced in the pond. While all the kids (except me) were asleep, my mom was able to drive 2 minutes to the Harvest Market to pick up some muffins or sandwiches, and her cooking duties were over. Those early mornings were the times I snuck out the screen door to get a head start on catching frogs. I’m not sure what started the obsession, but I was in love with catching as many frogs as I could and then racing them. My record was 50 in one day! Nothing compares to laying on the porch beside my three siblings, looking at the starlit sky, realizing that we are just so small.

Me and my frogs!

As I got older and golf became a bigger part of my life, the farm became my way of channeling my inner course architect. My brother, my dad, and I would carry three clubs and a few balls and make our way around the farm playing to different trees. This was probably Mr. Fisher’s biggest nightmare, but we always made sure to replace our divots and find all the balls. He didn’t believe it, especially when the tractor would stop because it was chopping up a golf ball instead of a clump of grass. I believe he knew the great joy it brought us, so he let us continue anyway. I was in heaven. I pretty much had my own personal golf course.

While I was lost in shaping shots over the ponds and around the trees, a few miles down the road, they were building a new world-class course, Stowe Mountain Club. The course was being carved into the Green Mountains of Vermont with elevations reaching 1,800 feet. It included breathtaking views of Spruce Peak and Mount Mansfield (the tallest mountain in Vermont that we always made sure to climb before our trip was over). As they were building it, I remember driving up there with my family and looking at the course in complete awe. I dreamt of hitting the purest wedge off of the par-3 seventh hole that dropped over 100 feet in elevation from the tee box to green.

One day, that dream became a reality. After a few years of begging, my dad treated my brother and me to a round at Stowe Mountain Club. To this day, it is one of the most enjoyable rounds of golf I’ve ever played. I can’t even remember what I shot because I enamored by the views and the opportunity to play some of the most spectacular holes I had ever seen.

In 2015, the Fisher’s sold the farm. I remember sitting on the couch in the living room when we got the phone call from them telling us this would be our last summer. It felt like a death in the family to me. I sat on the couch crying thinking about the amazing memories I had there and how this was my last chance to make a few more. In July, we traveled north and I savored every moment. As we pulled out of the driveway and I heard the sound of the tires roll over the gravel one last time I was stuck thinking back to the impact that place had on my life. I was grateful for times my family and the Fisher’s shared and that I could carry them with me for the rest of my life.

When I am sad, nervous, or need to gain some perspective, I think back to Stowe. Before golf rounds, I try to take myself back to hitting shots on the farm and laughing with my brother and dad at the fact we were happy to hear the ball make contact with a tree. To this day, I say my favorite course is Stowe Mountain Club, but in my heart, there are two of those. The one full of perfectly mown fairways and the one I forged on my own as I let my imagination create the hole on the wide-open ankle height grass of the farm. In my dreams, it’s where I go, and maybe one day I’ll return.

I venture to guess that as you read through this blog, you thought back to the place that holds the same significance to you. I hope it brought back great memories for you. Besides taking a trip to Vermont, the best advice I can offer is to harness those memories and think of them when you need it most. Like how I think about hitting wedges to trees before rounds to bring back my purest form of love for the game. Or when I need perspective, I reflect on the memory of looking at the stars with my siblings and saying, “we are a speck of a speck.” Whatever it may be, I hope this served as a reminder, and you can channel those thoughts when you need them most.

My mom and her daughters in the cottage.