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The state of Massachusetts comes with some incredible golf courses that anyone can play. While the best courses are mostly private, there are some public gems that offers great conditioning, affordable prices and all the amenities you can imagine.
We have created a list of the top-ten public courses of the Bay State, in order for you to find the one which suits you best. Let’s start with it!
Best Golf Courses in Massachusetts
Taconic is our choice for the best public golf course of all Massachusetts. Probably the best college golf facility of all America, this track is located on the Williams College campus, in the town of Williamstown, situated in the northwest corner of the state, almost touching the adjacent states of New York and Vermont.
Designed by Wayne E. Stiles and John van Kleek, the course opened in 1896 with only 9 holes, and in 1928 another 9 were added. Finally, in 2009 was renovated by the great architect Gil Hanse, who that same year was awarded as the Architect of the Year by Golf Magazine. He made sure the course was up to date and offered the best possible conditions to players: he widened the fairways, eliminated some trees,
This stunning course offers a spectacular location in the Berkshire Mountains, a challenging design and fantastic conditioning. Its first nine holes, although short, are extremely beautiful, and are the ones in which is more likely to improve your scorecard; while the back nine offers astonishing views of the mountains and great elevation changes, adding some challenge to the mix.
This course has also being host of some big tournaments, such as the U.S. Junior, the NCAA Championship and the Women’s and Senior Amateur Championships. In the 14th hole, an engraved stone pays homage to Jack Nicklaus, for his hole-in-one at the Junior Amateur Championship in 1956 played here. (Top 100 Golf Courses, s.f.)
It also counts with a fantastic clubhouse, where you can enjoy some rest after the game, while watching the other golfers ending their rounds in the 18th.
In relation to the price, as you may imagine, students have a great discount. While unaccompanied guests have to pay around $160, the fee for Williams students is only $20 for 18 holes (Taconic Golf Website, s.f.). Don’t be too envious!
The Red Tail course was built in an old army base in the city of Devens, only a one hour-drive from the capital, Boston, which closed in 1996. This is something we can intuit when we see the names of some holes: for example, the 2nd, called “Tanks Crossing”, is located in an area where tanks used to cross; or the 17th, “Bunkers”, plays with the fact that it counts with some great sand hazards, but also that there were actual ammunition bunkers situated there.
There’s also a reason for the name of the course, which is answered when we look to the sky while playing, if we are lucky: normally there are some Red Tail Hawks soaring the surroundings of the track.
The designer was Brian Silva, who made sure that the course was perfectly in tune with the environment. Proof of this is the distinctive Audubon International Cooperative Signature the course has, the first one in New England.
The course is as fun as challenging. Its typical New England landscape gives great variety to it, while enjoying the company of numerous oaks, pines and maple trees (Golf Advisor, s.f.). The par 3 11th and the par 4 17th have some distinctive sand bunkers; the par 4 4th and par 5 18th, some dramatic elevation changes; the pars 4 14th and 16th, some blind shots…
Other characteristic of this course is the incredible greenish and well maintained greens, with some fantastic designs which make them melt with the natural surroundings in a great way.
In their website you have all the information you need, from all the holes one by one, to other amenities such as golf courses, leagues, the pro shop and the course restaurant (Red Tail Golf Website, s.f.). Its rates range from $60 to $90, depending on the season.
Farm Neck counts with the privileged location of Martha’s Vineyard Island, in the city of Oak Bluffs. The club opened in 1979, and since then has been aimed at being a sensitive and unique place, for people and for nature.
Its designers were Geoffrey Cornish, Bill Robinson (front nine) and Patrick Mulligan (back nine), who did a great job crafting a track with great variety, where you can find open meadows, woodlands, and some holes playing along the sea, such as the 4th, the 8th or the 14th.
The signature here can be the 14th, a par 4 that plays along the sea, with six bunkers coming into play. However, there are some other contenders, such as the 3rd or the 8th. You can see all of them in their website, with graphics and real photos to not miss any detail.
Apart from golf, this facility counts with 6 hard outdoor tennis courts, where you can play or even take some lessons; and a nice restaurant, called Farm Neck Café. (Farm Neck Website, s.f.)
Rates are not cheap here, ranging between $90 and $175 per round. However, the experience of crossing to the island by ferry, playing a perfect golf round and enjoying a beautiful sunset in the island is something difficult to find anywhere else!
Located in the town of Bernardston, only 45 minutes north from Springfield, and bordering with the state of New Hampshire, Crumpin-Fox is one of these courses which stay in your mind for a long time.
Opened in 1979 with only 9 holes, it wasn’t until 1989 that another 9 were added, creating a great championship course. Both of the nines were designed by Roger Rulewich, under the supervision of Robert Trent Jones Sr.
The original nine holes, which are the back nine, possess some narrow fairways lined by trees, making you feel the power of nature and as if you were inside a huge forest. The front nine, however, plays mainly in open meadows. Apart from this visual difference, both nines have some common ground: small, well-protected, two-tiered greens, which make accuracy on the short game essential to be able to score well (Cognizant Golf, s.f.).
Our favourite hole, the 15th: a par 3 which plays over water, to a large two-tiered green that makes the out a total challenge to the player.
The Pinehills Golf Club is a 36-hole golf facility situated in the coastal city of Plymouth. As its name indicates, the course was designed by the great Rees Jones, offering some of its signature characteristics: challenging, but enjoyable holes for everyone, and land-respectful but unique designs.
The course conditions are impeccable, something that should be expected for a round which costs between $80 and $120. However, not all the courses deliver as this one.
The signature hole is the 15th, a stunning par 5 which can be difficult but forgiving, with a dramatic and intimidating tee shot. However, the par 3 14th and the par 4 16th are also two fantastic holes. (World Golfer, s.f.)
The Oaks Course at the International Golf Club of Bolton is one of the three courses in New England designed by the renowned architect Tom Fazio, and opened its doors to the public in 2001. Apart from this course, the club counts with another 18-hole layout, the Pines, which is only playable for guests from the resort.
Its best holes are the 10th and the 17th. The former is a downhill par 4 which plays to a green protected by a cool designed central bunker, while the latter is a par 3 with one of the distinctive waste bunkers of this course.
Here also lies one of the largest practice facilities of New England, including a great short game area to practice a huge variety of shots.
But not everything is going to be about golf! The resort also hosts weddings and corporate events, and has a fine restaurant called “The Fireplace Room”.
Situated at the feet of the Berkshire Mountains, The Ranch opened in 2001 and was designed by Damian Pascuzzo. This course has some wide fairways, rolling and undulating greens and a great variety of holes, making it enjoyable for every player, no matter the handicap.
This fun course counts with some memorable holes, such as the 16th: a downhill par 5, adequately called “Ski Hill”, plays from an elevated tee that calls for a legendary drive shot. But be careful: if you miss too much to the left, the ball may be missing in the deep forest. (Golf Community Reviews, s.f.)
To say some drawbacks of the course, the thickness of the fescue may be one of them, making it difficult to find the ball in some situations. If we talk about the prices, the green fees are not cheap, but also not too expensive, ranging from $60 to $80 per round.
Going back to Pinehills, the 8th position of our list goes for the second course of the facility, the Nicklaus. The companion to the Jones Course opened in 2002, and was obviously designed by Jack Nicklaus Jr.
As its sister Jones, the Nicklaus course offers a challenging round but quite playable for any kind of player, no matter their skills. The best hole can be the 14th, a short par 4 with some decisions to make from the tee, and a multi-tied green to make it more difficult to score well.
Rates here are the same that in the Jones course, ranging between $80 and $120. Another great option if visiting Pinehills!
The name Granite Links does not come by chance. This golf club, located in the coastal city of Quincy, which is only 40 minutes south of Boston, was built near an old quarry, which you can see from some holes. Another great characteristics are the splendid views of the Boston skyline, and that it has the links-style course.
Here lie three 9-hole courses, the Milton, the Granite, and the Quincy, all of them designed by John Sanford, in 2003, 2004 and 2006 respectively. To form your 18-hole round, we recommend the two oldest ones, the Milton and the Granite.
These two courses offers some opportunities for the long hitters, and have some sloping greens, bowl-shaped, that are quite difficult to par, because of the many ridges around them, which make the ball roll and roll down the pin. This make the course quite a challenge for most of players.
There are some great holes, such as the Granite 5th: a short par 4 with granite rock formations and a water hazard coming into play.
Rates here are not cheap, oscillating between $125 and $150.
Miacomet opened in 2003 and was designed by Howard Maurer, who also renovated it in 2008. This course offers an authentic Scottish links style, with rolling terrain, few trees, undulating greens and wind.
Its greens and fairways are perfectly maintained, and their greens offer some challenging situations. Take a look also at its bunkers: they are everywhere, and their shapes and contours are amazing to see. Some of the best are in the 1st, 2nd, 10th, 11th, 12th and 14th holes.
The rates vary depending on the season. While during winter the green fee is of $50, in summer season prices can go up to even $175. Make sure of checking the availability beforehand and contact the club for more info about the tee times.
So there is our list of the best tracks anyone can play in Massachusetts. However, there are probably many more out there, so don’t stop searching! Get all the information you can from the internet, people who live there and friends and family; and compare.
Have fun and… game on!