Swingers' Clubs


If you play golf in Greater Boston, hearing that the best golfer in the world will be visiting us soon only confirms what you already know: Despite the lousy climate, New England sets a high standard as a place to play and follow golf. That makes choosing its best courses, public and private, a difficult if pleasant task. Inspired in part by Tiger Woods's upcoming appearance at the new Tournament Players Club of Boston over Labor Day weekend, we've decided to meet the challenge.

Our search for the finest is guided by several obvious principles — integrity of design, excellence of conditioning, quality of ambiance — and by informed, expert opinion gathered over a long period of dogged research. We've talked with greenskeepers, architects, and other players — including one of the state's top amateurs, Alistair Catto of South Hadley — and the finest professional golfer New England has produced, Brad Faxon of Barrington, Rhode Island.

To appropriate a metaphor inspired by golf's 19th hole, one wine-lover's cabernet may be another's grape juice. Still, there are standards, and these courses set the bar in and around Boston.

THE PRIVATE COURSES

[10] Ferncroft Country Club One of four Robert Trent Jones Sr. courses in the state (the Ipswich Country Club is another), this is one of only two private courses on our list that you can play without being a member or a guest of a member; you just have to stay at the adjacent resort. [50 Ferncroft Road, Danvers, 978-777-2500]

[9] Tournament Players Club of Boston Only a year old and now the site of a new PGA Tour event, this Arnold Palmer-designed course will host Tiger and company on Labor Day weekend. [400 Arnold Palmer Boulevard, Norton, 508-285-3200]

[8] The International Golf Club The International's original 18, now called the Pines, has the longest tees of any course in the Western Hemisphere. The green on the par-6 fifth is almost as long as a football field. The Pines now has a Tom Fazio-designed second course — the Oaks. [159 Ballville Road, Bolton, 978-779-6910]

[7] Cape Cod National Golf Course A scenic course designed by Brian Silva across Pleasant Bay from the venerable Eastward Ho! Country Club — and, if truth be told, a tougher test. Guests at the nearby Wequassett Inn are eligible to play. [74 South Orleans Road, Brewster, 508-240-6800]

[6] Brae Burn Country Club One of the Boston area's grand old clubs, Brae Burn boasts a beautifully conditioned Donald Ross course dating back to 1912. On a warm summer evening, there may be no better spot for refreshment than the sprawling clubhouse's veranda overlooking the 18th hole. [326 Fuller Street, West Newton, 617-244-0680]

[5] Nantucket Golf Club The kind of place Michael Jordan can play without getting hassled. Though just five years old, this expensive playground at the far end of Nantucket is a Rees Jones-designed throwback; there are no carts (unless you have a doctor's note), no tennis courts, no pool — just golf in its purest form. [250 Milestone Road, Siasconset, Nantucket, 508-257-8600]

[4] Myopia Hunt Club Myopia is a golf wonder, the late 19th-century creation of Herbert Leeds, who'd never before built a course. It's also the only course we know where you'll see horses ridden along the fairways, which are framed by tall grass. [435 Bay Road, Hamilton, 978-468-1402]

[3] Salem Country Club Former Bruins great Ray Bourque waited a decade to become a member here. This is classic golf without gimmicks. Its last green was the scene of several three-putts when the U.S. Golf Association(USGA) held the Senior Open at Salem two years back. [133 Forest Street, Peabody, 978-538-5400]

[2] Essex County Club Designed by Donald Ross, the Scotsman who designed such masterpieces as Pinehurst No. 2, everything here is of a piece, elegant without pretension, and surrounded by beauty. Extensive but unobtrusive bunkering and elevated greens contribute to the overall golf experience. [123 School Street, Manchester, 978-526-7691]

[1] The Country Club This landmark hosted the 1999 Ryder Cup, which the Americans won in dramatic come-from-behind fashion. There have been many such events here, none larger than the victory by former caddy Francis Ouimet in the 1913 U.S. Open, but headlines aren't what makes this one of the best golf courses in the world. Bring an appetite: At the Country Club, even the potato chips are made from scratch. [191 Clyde Street, Brookline, 617-566-0240]

THE PUBLIC COURSES

[10] Franklin Park Golf Course This is one you won't find in a Golf Digest guide, but we've included this course because of its location right in the heart of the inner city. It's one of the oldest public courses in the nation. [One Circuit Drive, Dorchester, 617-265-4084]

[9] Highland Links Golf Course This nine-hole layout overlooks the Atlantic, where a lighthouse has stood for two centuries. While it's not notable from a technical standpoint, it's the most spectacularly sited course in New England. [10 Lighthouse Road, North Truro, 508-487-9201]

[8] George Wright Golf Course Another course right in the city (it's in Hyde Park). This municipal facility may not be in the most pristine condition, but it claims a pedigree of the highest rank: It was laid out by Donald Ross. [420 West Street, Hyde Park, 617-361-8313]

[7] Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club A quintessential resort course, Ocean Edge is also the location of one of the best and longest-running golf schools around. [832 Villages Drive, Brewster, 508-896-5911]

[6] Waverly Oaks Golf Club Five-year-old Waverly Oaks sports a nine-hole short course, but its championship 18 is one of the finest daily-fee courses in the state. [444 Long Pond Road, Plymouth, 508-224-6016]

[5] Stow Acres Country Club (North) This popular property comprises two Geoffrey Cornish courses. (The second is called the South.) Among its distinctions, the North course has hosted the Amateur Public Links championship run by the USGA. [58 Randall Road, Stow, 978-568-8690]

[4] Shattuck Golf Club This wilderness design by Brian Silva is breathtakingly beautiful and fiendishly difficult. [53 Dublin Road, Jaffrey, New Hampshire, 603-532-4300]

[3] Country Club at New Seabury (Ocean) The seaside course becomes private in the summer unless you're staying at the resort. There's an excellent second course (called Dunes), but the Ocean's front side is to die for. [95 Shore Drive West, Mashpee, 508-539-8322]

[2] Pinehills Golf Club (Jones) A terrific Rees Jones high-end daily-fee course, open just two years and already a must-play. A second 18 by Nicklaus Design is also worthwhile. [54 Clubhouse Drive, Plymouth, 508-209-3000]

[1] Farm Neck Golf Club This great Geoffrey Cornish creation on Martha's Vineyard is so good, many people make the trip across the water just to play it. There's nothing not to like, from the shingled clubhouse to the expansive range to the glory of the golf itself, especially the holes that border the adjacent bay. [Farm Neck Way off Country Road, Oak Bluffs, 508-693-3057]

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